There’s nothing better than an autumnal walk amidst England’s green and pleasant lands… but where to head? These five glorious autumn walks, as recommended by the team at Best of England, are all just an hour or so from London. Oh and they all end at a pub!
Lead image: Beachy Head by Xavier Coiffic on Unsplash
1 Firle Beacon to The Ram Inn, South Downs Way
Starting point: Firle Beacon
Distance: 5 miles
Firle Beacon sits at 217 metres high and offers incredible views in all directions. The Beacon is situated behind the pretty village of Firle and is partway along the South Downs Way, which stretches for 100 miles from Eastbourne to Winchester through the beautiful South Downs Natural Park. This particular stretch has some of the best views. Surprisingly you are able to drive up to this part of the walk, which is fantastic if you are wanting to enjoy the heights without the hike. Otherwise park at The Ram pub and walk up the hill to the Firle Beacon. Paragliders often use this as a jumping point and on a clear day you can often see them soaring through the skies. Views out to the sea and inland of the patchwork fields are unbeatable and well worth taking in.
The Ram Inn has been at the heart of Firle village life for over 500 years. The rambling old brick and flint building has three main rooms, each with its own open fire, lit every day between October and April. The old stable and coach house have been converted into a private dining room and an outside ‘farmers bar’. There’s also a lovely flint-walled garden that’s ideal for sitting under the greengage trees in Summer. Family-friendly, the Ram has a thriving following with the locals but it’s also ideally situated for hikers as the South Downs Way is nearby. The Inn has an enviable reputation for very good food as well as locally produced cask ales. With four beautiful bedrooms, bed & breakfast can be enjoyed in the Ram all year round.
2 Along the River Ouse to Anchor Inn, Barcombe
Starting point: Barcombe Mills along the River Ouse
Distance: 4 miles
If you’d rather enjoy the river from water level, why not hire a canoe from The Anchor and carry on upstream? The views are idyllic; you’ll pass sheep and cows grazing in the fields, an old Weir which is a favourite local fishing spot and there are plenty of opportunities to hop off and enjoy a picnic on the banks of the river.
3 Bosham Harbour to The Anchor Bleu
Starting point: Bosham Village
Distance: 4 miles
The quaint attractive town of Bosham is well worth a visit, nestled against the waters edge at the eastern end of Chichester Harbour it’s a haven for wildlife and sailing. The small village has an ancient church dating back to the 800’s and the small pretty lanes are full of attractive buildings, flowers and character. There are plenty of places around the area of Bosham for a nice walk. Why not take a stroll around the basin and marvel at the boats and nature, before stopping in one of the village pubs or café’s? When visiting Bosham be wary of the tide times as the road and car park flood twice daily! Walk from Bosham Sailing Club around the quay and back via the church and sailing club.
The Anchor Bleu in Bosham is located on the water’s edge with glorious views overlooking the boats and harbour. The locally sourced menu features a mix of pub classics and seasonal specials with three cosy rooms to dine in and a waterside terrace to enjoy when the weather is fine. It is also mentioned in the Bayeux Tapestry, with a reference to a meeting between Harold and Edward the Confessor at Bosham church in 1064. The pub is a great stop off when visiting Chichester or the beaches at West Wittering.
4 De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-Sea, to The Crown Pub, Hastings
Starting point: De La Warr
Distance: 6 miles
The De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill-on-Sea has become a modernist icon on the South Coast and provides a fantastic program of contemporary arts, renowned musicians and learning activities. The building was the result of an architectural competition held in 1934; it uses minimalist lines and shapes to make it a very interesting space. At the mid-point of this walk, you’ll reach the impressive Hastings Pier, which is worth an amble.
Towards the end of the walk you’ll find Hastings Contemporary (formerly the Jerwood Gallery), a modern building located in the historic old town of Hastings. With a focus on painting and on Modern British art, the gallery hosts regular exhibitions celebrating the best of contemporary and British art. An interesting place for art fanatics, it is also suitable for less experienced visitors and families visiting with younger children. There’s even a children’s trail to help you explore the gallery, its collection and exhibitions.
The Crown is an independent pub in Hastings old town between East Hill country park and the beach. It offers a welcoming environment with friendly staff and plenty of local regulars. They serve Hastings brewed real ale and a delicious selection of home-cooked meals.
5 Beachy Head and the 7 Sisters to the Tiger Inn, East Dean
Starting Point: Seven Sisters Country Park
Distance: 5 miles
Not far from Eastbourne you’ll find, from west to east, Haven Brow, Short Brow, Rough Brow, Bran Point, Flagstaff Point, Bailey’s Hill and West Hill Brow; these are the very unfeminine names of the Seven Sisters, pristine white chalk cliffs that line along the Sussex coast between the River Cuckmere and the dizzying height of Beachy Head. The undulating path atop the cliffs is part of the South Downs Way.
The views out to sea at Birling Gap, the mid-point, are sensational. But there’s a fascinating environment down at the base of the cliffs where the wild forces of the sea create unusual chalk platforms; erosion sees the cliffs retreat by an average of one metre a year. It’s possible to access the beach at Cow Gap. The cliffs and grasslands are home to ravens, kestrels and peregrine falcons.
At the end of the walk head for the Tiger Inn. Set in the heart of picturesque East Dean, the Tiger Inn is a great 16th-century pub is a popular spot offering local real ales including Beachy Head, which is brewed within walking distance of the pub. On warm days you can sit outside and relax on the peaceful village green and enjoy the view. There are five rooms for those wishing to stay.
For more great guides to places to visit in England, see bestofengland.com
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