In 1066 William the Conqueror and his Norman army landed in Pevensey and marched up through Hastings to meet the doomed Saxon army of King Harold at a place called Senlac Ridge, now known simply as Battle.
A great way of learning about the Norman invasion and taking in some of our countries most beautiful countryside and coast is to follow the 1066 Country Walk, where the tread of William the conqueror is still fresh as you take in the key historic sights, starting at Pevensey Castle and finishing 31 miles later at the medieval cinque port of Rye.
Following the red circular waymark discs will take you from the ruins of Pevensey Castle through ancient villages, woodland and orchards before you come to an area that witnessed the most celebrated battle on English soil – the Battle of Hastings. An event so significant it completely changed the course of English history. Now marked by the atmospheric Battle Abbey, built by the Conqueror on the orders of the Pope as penance for the blood that was shed during the conquest.
Battle marks the half way mark as you meander through East Sussex’s breath taking countryside, pretty villages with lovely country pubs (well, you need to eat and drink and an army marches on it’s stomach!) The trail will take you through the Brede Valley, a wonderfully tranquil area, an ancient landscape full of history and rich in wildlife, look out for barn owls!
As you enter the valley near Westfield, the trail follows a gently undulating route along the slopes of the Icklesham ridge, with it’s spectacular views of Rye and Romney Marsh. The trail leads you on to one of Kiplings ‘ports of stranded pride’ historic Winchelsea, and what a port this town was, and follows a lane across the lower valley, before finally reaching Rye, Englands best preserved medieval town, by a bridle path along the foot of a line of old sea cliffs.
East Sussex has an amazing diversity of landscapes and habitats and there is no doubt that the best way to see and experience this natural beauty is to explore on foot just as King William did almost a thousand years ago!
If you book a hiking break with us you will receive a complimentary guide
The 1066 Country Walk by Brian Smailes. The illustrated guide describes the route, giving instructions together with appendices providing practical information.
The author Brian Smailes says ‘Come with me on a walk back in time as you step into what could be the actual footsteps of William The Conqueror on a journey of imagination and discovery of the beautiful East Sussex countryside’.