Walking is a great way to improve or maintain your overall health. To mention just a few, it burns calories, strengthens the heart, eases joint pain, boots immunity, pumps you with energy, improves mood…the list goes on.
Moreover, walking gets you out into nature and brings you in contact with awe-inspiring views of natural beauty.
Why Visit Walking Trails in South-East England?
Picking the 5 best walking trails in South-East England was a tough call. There are loads of trails for ramblers of all levels.
Also, fun fact, south-east England is the sunniest region in the UK with its entire section of coastline averaging more than 1600 sunshine hours per year and more than seven hours per day during summer month”.
Let’s hit the road… This is our pick of the best five walking trails in South- East England.
The Isle of Wight Coastal Path
The Isle of Wight Coastal Path is an adrenalin-charged 70 miles route around the island’s coastline. The trail is rated “moderate to demanding/ strenuous” and it involves a long, challenging waking days with some prolonged ascents/ descents.
The terrain is varied and tough underfoot in places so make sure you’re wearing appropriate walking shoes. A strong level of fitness and previous mountain walking experience is essential.
As you ramble along the coast, you will encounter a variety of sites; natural wonders, historic landmarks and thriving settlements. You will admire the view of the cliffs, the spectacular stacks of “The Needles”, rich bird and plant life, many species of wildlife, (including the Glanville fritillary butterfly, not found anywhere else in Britain).
The Coastal Path was designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). If you’re not pressed for time and would like to leave no stone unturned, you could explore it for weeks and still stumble upon mind-blowing sights every single day.
On the other hand, if you prefer group organised walks, there are companies that offer, year-round, circular walking tours that cover the whole route in 3 to 8 nights (or more).
Seven Sisters Walk
Seven Sisters walk starts from Seaford to Eastbourne counting 13 miles long trail. You can also do it from the other end. Depending on how experienced you are as a hiker, it can take between 4 to 7 hours to complete.
Time will also depend on how many breaks you take along the way. There are plenty of mesmerising views to admire so it is easy to get sidetracked. For scenery, this is arguable one of the best walking trails in south-east England.
The terrain is mixed: grass, trails, shingle. It’s also very hilly and it may be slightly challenging if you’re not a regular hiker. Shoes with a good grip are recommended for this hike. Another idea, if doing this walk during the summer, is to bring your swimwear as it brings you right down to the shoreline.
Seven Sisters Country Park is situated in the South Downs National Park. It covers 280 hectares of chalk cliffs, meandering river valley and open chalk grassland. The country park was named after the famous Seven Sisters that form part of the chalk cliffs, on the Sussex Heritage Coast, one of Britain’s finest unspoilt coastlines.
The Seven Sisters walk involves climbing seven hills (the sisters). There is a steep drop so make sure to keep away from the cliff’s edge – you don’t want to push your luck due to an erosive terrain and cracks in the chalk cliffs.
The path will take you over the Seven Sisters cliffs and presents spectacular views of Cuckmere Haven, Belle Tout and Beachy Head lighthouse.
Leith Hill Walk Trail
This is a challenging 4-miles circular set within the beautiful Surrey Hills that climbs to the highest point in the South East. Expect some moderate climbs on the way.
Leith Hill is located near Dorking and reaches 294 meters (965 ft) above sea level. On the summit, there’s an 18th century Gothic tower. It rises above the hill to display sweeping views across 14 counties. London landmarks to the north and the English Channel to the south, are visible through the free telescope at the top.
There are a few route options:
Woodland trail is graded medium, 2.5 miles hike and with some steep gradients. It can be completed in 2 hours. The trail is particularly stunning in autumn when nature goes through the colour change. This is the longest trail and passes through parts of the original Leith Hill Place estate and woodlands.
Etherley loop is an additional 1.5 miles to the Woodland trail, through the farmland and parkland landscape. Graded as easy, this 1-hour long walk can become muddy underfoot, if wet.
Heathland trail, graded as easy, 1.75-mile-long route has some steep parts through the high, sandy, open heath of Duke’s Warren. It’s around an hour to complete. Along the way, you’ll discover landscape of heather, bracken, bilberry, gorse, pine and birch.
Frank’s walk is graded medium, 1-mile-long and only half an hour to complete, taking you to the historic arboretum, through a conifer avenue and into Frank’s Wood.
Thames Path is a long-distance walking trail, following England’s best-known river for 184 miles from its source in the Cotswolds, through several rural countries, and on into the heart of London. This is a gentle trail able to be walked by people of all ages and abilities and can be completed in 2 weeks. The best months to visit are spring through to the end of autumn.
Let’s stay in London’s area where the Thames stretches from Putney to Tower Bridge. The south bank route is 10.5 miles while the north bank is 0.2 miles shorter. Along this section, there are 16 bridges, some quite magnificent.
This part is definitely the most visited one, along the river in the centre of London. The south bank went through great change in the past 10 years and new developments of contemporary architecture changed it forever.
As we stroll along the South bank passing by the galleries and theatre venues, a wonderful view of the House of Parliament and Big Ben presents itself on the other side of the river. Why not hop on the London Eye and immerge into a spectacular view of the city? Further down the river, you’ll reach the City of London and Tower Bridge.
Devil’s Dyke is not only one of the best walking trails in South-East England, but also the longest, widest and deepest dry chalk valley in the country. It will lead you to the alleged burial site of the Devil and his wife.
Legend has it that if you run backwards 7 times around these humps, whilst holding your breath, the Devil will appear. Willing to try? (Let us know how it went.)
Devil’s Dyke Chasm Explorer is a moderate 3 miles and dog-friendly walk that will take you through beautiful views of the West Sussex countryside. You will discover the incredible diversity of countryside site across the South Downs, from chalk grassland to river valleys, beech hangars and chalk cliffs.
Further along the way, you will visit Saddlescombe Farm and the Donkey Wheel. It’s a wooden wellhouse containing a large, broad wheel. For centuries the wheel was turned by a donkey, to draw water for the farm from 150ft below the downs.
As you continue along the route, you will walk through the kissing gates that will lead you to a steep incline of 63 steps. Reaching the top, you’ll see it’s worth it. If you’re lucky you can spot birds soaring above you. This is the site where the funicular railway used to be.
Devil’s Dyke is a must visit if you are someone who appreciates the wonders of nature.
If you do plan to enjoy any of the best walking trails in South-East England, let us know about your experience. And don’t forget to activate the sweatcoin app and clock up your SWCs.