1 - If coming by bus, alight in the High Street and turn down Station Road by Union Church (eastern end of the High Street). The Cuckoo Trail car park is on the right, 200 yards past Sainsbury’s.
The Cuckoo Trail is a shared-use route for walkers, horse riders and cyclists along the trackbed of the old Cuckoo Line railway, which closed in 1965, so-called because of the legend that the first cuckoo of spring is released at the annual Heffle (Heathfield) Cuckoo Fair in April.
From the car park exit turn right along Station Road until coming to a crossroads by the Price Of Wales pub on the left. Cross at the traffic lights and continue up Upper Station Road past St Richard’s Church on the left.
At the top of the hill bear right into Park Road and in just over 100 yards turn right by a board fence on a footpath between houses. Continue along this for about 700 yards, crossing two estate roads until emerging on to Sandy Cross Lane, with a 30mph sign to the right.
Turn left along this lane with care for about 600 yards until coming to the junction with Park Road and Weavers Rock Lane. There is a seat on the left if a rest is desired at this point.
2 - Go straight ahead along a surfaced track (by a heritage sign). On reaching a gate marked Walnuts Farm: Private continue straight ahead (right-of-way on foot) past the house then downhill. Where the track bears right, go straight ahead and over a stile into woodland.
Continue ahead, ignoring a footpath on the right, bearing left and keeping close to a lake on the left. After about 300 yards, on approaching a gate, turn right; then, in a few paces bear left, soon to cross a driveway. Enter the strip of woodland opposite and follow the footpath which runs parallel to the driveway until coming to a road.
Cross and continue on the path along the right-hand edge of the field. Go over a stile bearing slightly left across the next field, in the direction of the church spire, to go through a kissing-gate.
Cross a driveway continuing in the same direction to go over a stile. Turn left up the lane past the Star Inn and straight on into the churchyard.
3 - Follow the path around to the right of All Saints’ Church (take a look in, if open) and, if doing the whole walk, go out through the main gate. Continue for just over half a mile along the roadside path, which is on the right at first, then the left, then back over again.
There are a few seats on which to rest by the play area on the right. On reaching the T-junction at Cade Street by the Half Moon Inn, cross the road and turn right.
4 - After 200 yards, see the Jack Cade Monument on the left. This commemorates the notorious 15th-century rebel leader who was reputedly captured here, and so gave his name to this hamlet.
Continue for another 100 yards, then cross the road to go on a footpath marked by a plinth at ground level. Go through a metal gate and follow this farm track for about 700 yards. On coming to a gate marked Private, go over a stile on the right and diagonally across a field just to the left of the church spire seen ahead.
Cross a stile into woodland and over a substantial footbridge with a plaque in memory of Sylvia Burgess of Wealden Cuckoo Ramblers. Go up into a field and cross to go through a metal kissing-gate back into the churchyard (point 3).
Retrace the walk past the Star Inn, over the stile and though the kissing-gate, but now turn left along the field edge and over a stile. Continue on through a wooden kissing-gate and turn right along the field edge. Cross a stile and through the middle of the next field and, at the bottom, over another stile into woodland.
Follow the path to the road (opposite New Sapperton Farm) and turn left. In a few paces turn right through a gate, along a track, continuing over a stream straight ahead on a concrete track to Sapperton Manor Farm.
5 - Pass to the left of the house and then bear right through a stable yard and metal gate to cross a field. On coming to a crossways of paths, go over the stile ahead and across another field, then over a small footbridge into the next field.
In a few paces turn right over a stile then left up the left-hand edge of the field, over another stile continuing along the field edge. After crossing the next stile bear right along the left-hand field edge to cross a stile, then through the middle of the next field to cross another stile.
On entering this large field go straight ahead, aiming for the largest oak tree in the middle of the opposite field edge to find a stile and cross into the next field. Continue to the top of the field, go over a stile and then down a driveway to cross a road.
6 - Go down the driveway opposite, under a barrier, and turn right on the Cuckoo Trail. Follow this well-marked trail, noticing an obvious rail enthusiast’s garden on the right along the way, for just over half a mile back to the car park.
- Distance/Time: Six miles/three hours; extra half-mile/15 minutes if coming from and returning to High Street. Shorter option: four and a half miles/two and a quarter hours
- By Car: Cuckoo Trail car park (free) off Station Road, Heathfield
- By Public Transport: Heathfield is well served by buses from all directions. Timetable information from Traveline: 0871 200 2233 or www.traveline.info
- What’s underfoot: A mixture of roadside and other surfaced paths, also field and woodland paths which can be muddy at this time of year, if wet
- Thirsty Work: Prince Of Wales pub near the start/finish of walk; Star Inn at Old Heathfield; Half Moon Inn at Cade Street; otherwise use facilities in Heathfield before or after the walk
- So you don’t get lost: OS Explorer Map 123