I’m pretty sure I won’t be alone when I say that this year, more than others it comes as such a massive relief to see signs of spring and warmer days. For us, longer days and more favourable weather goes hand in hand with more family times spent outdoors. I’m thrilled to be teaming up with Hannah who organises pushchair and baby carrier friendly hikes across East Sussex on behalf of Blaze Trails. Together we’ve put together our favourite local family walks suitable for all ages.
Hannah had her daughter at the start the pandemic and after finding her maternity plans had taken a she started walking with her baby on a daily basis. In turn, she discovered Blaze Trails organisation who empower parents and carers to get outside with their babies. With traditional baby groups unable to take place Hannah started a BlazeTrails group for East Sussex. You can find them on Facebook, all babies and their carers are welcome. Here are Hannah’s recommendations for baby friendly walks:
Abbots wood is a Forestry England site, located near Polegate this, woodland is great for taking babies and children. With two different length well-marked trails (Abbots Amble – 2.5km and Oak Walk – 1.25km) the trails are great for carriers, all terrain buggies or toddlers. There is plenty of parking, toilet facilities and plenty of seating for picnics and feeds.
Ashdown Forest offers a huge variety of walks for everyone to enjoy, a favourite is Chelwood Vachery, starting from Long Car Park, this walk takes you through the forest down to Chelwood Vachery Forest Garden, passing The Folly Bridge and Braberry Lower Pond, this walk also offers plenty of opportunity to pause for refreshment and take in the surroundings. A 4.5km route with detailed directions is available on the Ashdown Forest website.
And here are my personal recommendations for families older children. I’ve chosen places that offer a little more than just a walk to keep little folk engaged and to explore.
Tucked down Hollow Lane, just across from the Blackboys Inn is Kiln Wood. Perfect for den making, paddling and picnics Kiln Wood has a magical feel thanks to its pretty winding streams and ancient trees. Pack your wellies and wet weather gear ready for dam building, pooh sticks and rope swing mishaps! Visit at the right time of year and you’ll also see a stunning display of woodland bluebells.
Just on the outskirts of Newhaven heading towards Seaford you’ll discover Tide Mills. This fascinating site makes for a visually stimulating walk through history for all ages. Tide Mills is a derelict village which was abandoned at the start of the Second World War. Constructed in 1761 the village originally contained a 3 storey mill, cottages for workers, a school and a mill dam. The village also had its own railway for transporting flour to Newhaven and London. You can still see the original platform. Once deserted in 1939 the site was used as a practise area for troops heading to war.
Part of the Seven Sisters Country Park, a walk along the meanders of the river Cuckmere will lead you to the stunning white cliffs and wild seas at Cuckmere Haven. The walk is partly paved leading to a natural trail snaking along the river as it reaches the coast. It can become very waterlogged during wet times of the year so make sure your bring suitable footwear. As well as offering a perfect example of river meanders and flood plain features this walk will also bring you across a number of World War II coastal defences such as machine gun emplacements and anti-tank ditches. So much more than just a pretty walk!