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Cuckoo Trail is an 11-mile (17-km) surfaced track through the East Sussex countryside. It follows the path of the old Tunbridge Wells to Eastbourne railway from Heathfield (although it is possible to cycle to Tunbridge wells from Heathfield using local roads (the route is well signposted).


The Cuckoo Trail at Cowden Wood, between Horam and Hailsham.

The railway line closed to passengers in 1965 and to freight in 1968; along the route there are various station buildings, signals and other infrastructure left behind.

The route also links up with The Forest Way and forms part of the cycle route from London to Paris via Newhaven.

It is so named from the tradition that the first cuckoo in Spring was heard at the Heathfield Fair.

Along the route of the trail are six original sculptures which act as mileposts. In 1993, a dozen wooden benches were installed which had been hand-carved by a local artist from trees felled during the Great Storm of 1987.


Have a well-maintained bike and a puncture repair kit; since there are few bike shops and at certain times of the day and certain sections of the route, traffic can be a bit sparse.

  • Cycle Revival, Oxford House, Hailsham Rd, Heathfield, +44 1435 866118. M-Sa 9AM-5:30PM. Service and sales for bicycles and e-bikes.


Map of Cuckoo Trail

The Cuckoo Trail is a safe route for walkers, cyclists and horse-riders of all ages. An extension runs south from Polegate to Hampden Park in Eastbourne forming part of a National Cycle Network route. Benches and picnic tables along the way offer plenty of places to stop for a break. All the towns and villages that the route passes through have at least a pub.

It runs from

  • 1 through:
  • 2 Horam on Wikipedia
  • 3 Hellingly on Wikipedia
  • 4 and
  • 5 Polegate on Wikipedia to
  • 6 Hampden Park, Eastbourne on Wikipedia

Depending on your fitness and speed, cycling it will take about 55 minutes, and walking will take 3 hours 40 minutes. There is a 300-m section in Hailsham on a minor residential road.

Get in[edit]

  • Train: Stations at Polegate and Hampden Park.
  • Bus: Eastbourne Bus Service +44 1323 416416
  • Car parking: at Heathfield, Horam, Hellingly, Hailsham, Polegate and Hampden Park
  • Horsebox parking: Hellingly Cuckoo Trail Car Park
  • Events: Sussex Country Information Centre +44 1323 442667.

Stay safe[edit]

  • Cycle carefully: many people have been hurt by 'speeding' cyclists
  • Avoid walking along the path at night without good lights: many areas of the path have steep sides and are near to roads
  • Keep dogs on leads or at least under control

Go next[edit]


Accommodation: Sussex Country Information Centre +44 1323 442667

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