Route of the Egrets Way
Starting at Newhaven’s Riverside Park the Egrets Way follows the course of the River Ouse north to Lewes passing close to the villages of Piddinghoe and Southease. At Lewes it loops inland to link up with the villages of Kingston, on to Swanborough and Iford and then to Rodmell where it joins up again with the Ouse. With a distance of around 7 miles the route takes the user on a journey through landscapes that are as archaeologically fascinating as they are naturally captivating. Ancient villages, sites of special scientific interest, pubs, medieval waterways, working farms…….and a host of wildlife, not forgetting the little Egret, namesake of the routeway.
Places on the route:
Lewes is an ancient town with a sizeable population serviced by a wide selection of amenities – a good range of pubs catering for all tastes, lots of boutique shops and the usual selection of grocery shops and supermarkets. Accommodation wise, there are 3 or 4 hotels and a number of BnB’s.
Lewes is well worth a visit to soak in some of the history. With its castle, saxon twittens, ruined priory and architecture from the Normans onwards, its really worth spending time there.
Kingston is a couple of miles from Lewes and sits nestled in the South Downs of England. The village comprises fewer than 1000 inhabitants, a 13th century church, Iford and Kingston Primary School and a pub called 'The Juggs' all of which provide focal points for the village.
Iford and Swanborough
Two small vilages separated by the C7 but linked by the Parish Church, St Nicholas in Iford.
Swanbrough can be accessed from the Egrets Way and provides good access, following old droving routes, up onto the Downs.
Iford can be accessed from the GMT footpath which links to the Egrets Way at Swanborough holiday lodges. Iford is very much a working village with the south side dominated by the Iford Estate farm. This does not mean though that the village is unpeaceful, on the contrary the existence of a number of fine manor houses testify to the serenity of the village.
Southease Village is where the national route of The South Downs Way winds its way through the village towards the nearby River Ouse and the railway station. The village boasts a population of approximately 50 and a church whose history can be traced back over 1000 years – the church possessing one of only three round towers in Sussex, all of which are located in the Ouse Valley and all three built in the first half of the 12th century.
Rodmell is a small, quiet and charming village nestling in some of the finest scenery of the South Downs. It is four miles south of Lewes and a similar distance north of the port of Newhaven, home of the Dieppe ferry. There has been a village here since at least the time of William the Conqueror. Famous for being the home of author Virginia Woolf, Rodmell is a must see place for many fans of the Bloomsbury set. Also home to the pub the Abergavenny Arms, Rodmell is a convenient place to stop off and take rest whilst on the Egrets Way journey
With its ferry port, fishing berths and industrial estates Newhaven appears to be the opposite to Lewes in terms of culture and heritage but it has its own set of characteristics that make it, for some, an appealing place to visit. Most notably is the fort, as well as the museum and its focus on the maritime and wartime history of the town.
Today Piddinghoe is a quiet picturesque village in the South Downs National Park close to Newhaven. The tidal river Ouse runs alongside the village and gives PIddinghoe villagers sailing and rowing opportunities as well as beautiful views of the South Downs. It is a fast flowing river and without local knowledge it is easy to get swept out to sea, or up to Lewes, or even marooned in the mud as the tide sweeps in and out. St. John's church is one of only three round tower churches in Sussex.
‘ESCAPE ROUTE’ Egrets Way Video 2013
When the Egrets Way project got underway in 2011, our time was largely devoted to identifying the route, obtaining landowner and planning consent and securing funding for the first sections of path to be constructed. We also spent considerable time engaging with local people to make them aware of the project and secure their support.
One of the early project supporters, Roger Ordish, a retired BBC television producer, offered to make a video about the project which could be used to inform members of the public and potential funders. The original video was updated in 2013 and this is the version you see here. While now dated, it remains a useful reminder of the original thinking behind the ongoing Egrets Way project.