Winchelsea - Pett Level - Winchelsea
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This is a walk of splendid variety, offering ample opportunities to brush up on your history, wave your binoculars at wading birds, or simply to stand and stare and let life pass you by unremarkably!
It begins in Winchelsea, a town of some charm, planned under the patronage of Edward 1 and one of the Cinque Ports – surprisingly, since the sea has receded, leaving it a mile from the coast. At its peak, it boasted a harbour which exported timber and more importantly some might think, allowed the wine to flow in, making it a favoured place for smuggling. However, my advice would be to save your exploration of the town until the end of the walk, when you might like to visit the museum or the church, or drop into the pub or local tea shop.
The early part of the route passes through National Trust land and close to medieval Wickham Manor. William Penn, founder of the state of Pensylvania, lived here once. The organically reared herd you may encounter provides produce for the farm shop here. Keep an eye open behind you for New Gate (actually, rather old gate!) which marked the southern boundary to the town.
In due course you will descend the cliff which marks the ancient shoreline, but just pause a moment at the top, because there's a glorious vista to be seen from this point. To your right, notice the ponds which form part of the Pannel Valley Nature Reserve, a haven for wading birds and reed dwellers. To your left a thin line of houses trots from the Town of Winchelsea to the secondary settlement of Winchelsea Beach and straight ahead is the sea!
Walking the sea wall gives another dimension to this walk. You can march briskly along with the wind on your face and enjoy treading that thin line between reclaimed marsh and sea. (If you're a fan of the TV programme Grand Designs, look out for the house known as The Big White Box, which was featured on it. It's a chance to make up your own mind as to whether it looks out of place in the landscape or not!) Or if you prefer, or have children with you, you can dabble your way along the shoreline. (At low tide, be aware that there is soft mud here). A little beyond the end of the wall there is supposed to be the fossilized footprint of an iguanadon. I confess I've never found it – but you might!
The final stretch is an easy trundle beside The Royal Military Canal, built to discourage Napoleon's desire for an Awayday Break (or longer) on the English side of La Minche. On a summer evening, this is the most peaceful place on earth, where bright dragonflies dip and skim, herons roost in trees, (yes, really!) and the laughing marsh frogs (who unlike Napoleon, did manage to invade Britain from the Continent) can occasionally be spotted.
England - South England - East Sussex - Countryside
Ancient Monument, Birds, Butterflies, Cafe, Church, Flowers, Food Shop, Good for Kids, Great Views, Lake/Loch, Mostly Flat, Museum, National Trust, Pub, Public Transport, River, Tea Shop, Toilets, Wildlife
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