1 - From Polegate Station, exit on to High Street and turn right. At the top of the road, cross at the traffic lights and turn right along Station Road. (Bus users and car drivers follow the route from either of these roads.)

Until the coming of the railway in the 1840s, Polegate – originally known as Powlegate – was just a small settlement. The name was simplified with the naming of the station which is now not in Station Road, as its original location was to the east of its present one.

In less than 100 yards, turn left into School Lane. Where the road bends around to the left, continue straight ahead along a tarmac path to the right of the school fence.

Our route now is on part of the Cuckoo Trail (CT), a picturesque and popular surfaced path for cyclists and walkers along the former Eastbourne to Heathfield railway track which was closed in the 1960s. The name is derived from the local legend that the first cuckoo of spring is released at the annual Heffle (Heathfield) Cuckoo Fair in April.

2 - In about 250 yards, go under a metal archway and, at the junction where a restricted byway crosses, continue straight ahead along the tarmac bridleway. Notice the rather unusual National Cycle Network (NCN) sign on the right which is also a reminder to watch out for cyclists.

Within a short distance the trail rises to cross a bridge with high wire fences over the Polegate bypass (A27); then descends to cross Otham Court Lane. Notice the unusual abstract designs on the metal barriers at the road crossings along this trail. There are also a number of carved wooden seats on which to take a rest, if desired.

The next road crossing is at Sayerland Lane. For much of the trail there is an unsurfaced track on the right; sometimes running adjacent to the tarmac path and at other times behind the trees.

3 - In about three quarters of a mile on the right, there is an entrance to The Old Loom Mill (Craft Centre and Tea Room). This is worth a visit, if only to browse or have a rest and some refreshments. It is open seven days a week from 10am until 5pm (4pm on Sundays). If doing the whole walk, there will be a further opportunity to call in on the return journey.

On leaving, those desiring a shorter option without using public transport should turn left (south) and retrace the route back to Polegate.

Otherwise, if continuing to Hailsham, turn right (north) for a further 250 yards. At the next road junction, leave the CT and turn left along Summerhill Lane. As the road rises to a T-junction, the impressive house of Stockhall Farm is directly ahead.

Turn right here along Coldthorn Lane and follow this for the next half a mile. At the junction with Ersham Road (B2104), cross with care and turn left along the footway opposite.

In a short distance, pass the cemetery on the right and then the entrance to Ersham Farm. Notice the decorative wrought-iron coach and horses on the weather vane.

4 - In a few more paces, cross over The Avenue and then immediately turn right along Nursery Path. This is a twitten of around 550 yards between the back garden fences through the housing estate. On the way, go across three estate roads before reaching Station Road at Hailsham.

This town has a long history and is mentioned as Hamelsham in the 11th-century Domesday Book. A Market Charter was granted in the 13th century and a weekly livestock market continues to this day. The town has also been famed for its rope-making industry since the beginning of the 19th century.

Directly opposite is Common Pond, which is a rather modest name for this picturesque lake with islands. There are seats here, providing an ideal place to rest, have a picnic or just watch the water fowl.

5 - From here, turn left (north) for a quarter of a mile to reach the town with its ample facilities. Also, for those doing this as a linear walk, buses leave from George Street or South Road (A295) to Polegate.

To return to Polegate on foot, go back along Station Road, following the Cuckoo Trail signs. Passing the southern end of Common Pond, turn right, as indicated by a CT sign, then almost immediately turn left into Freshfield Close.

At the end of the Close, go through metal barriers on to the tarmac CT heading south.

6 - In around three quarters of a mile, go across Ersham Road (B2104) with care, using the pedestrian- controlled traffic lights here. In a short distance, go across Summerhill Lane (this was point 3 on the outward journey.) A little way beyond there is a further opportunity to visit The Old Loom Mill.

From here, continue in a southerly direction to retrace the route back along the CT. Cross in sequence: Sayerland Lane, Otham Court Lane and the bridge over the Polegate bypass.

Continue past the NCN sign on the left, then under the metal arch and along the path by the school fence. At the end, continue straight along School Lane to Station Road and return to a parked car, bus stop or the rail station.

Distance/Time: Six and a half miles/three hours (from Polegate Station); only three and a half miles if turning back at point 3 or doing a linear walk
and returning from Hailsham by bus.

By Car: Car park off Polegate High Street, or on-street parking off Station Road

By Public Transport: Trains to Polegate (on the Coastway line). Buses from all directions to Polegate (alight near junction of Station Road and High Street). Timetable information from Traveline: 0871 2002233 or www.traveline.info

What’s underfoot: Surfaced paths and footways, also minor roads; no stiles. Suitable for baby and mobility buggies

Thirsty Work: Pubs and restaurants in Hailsham and Polegate; The Old Loom Mill Tea Room at point 3

So you don’t get lost: OS Explorer Map 123 or Landranger 199. A compass would be useful for general direction

Click here for a full-sized map of the Polegate walk