The Cuckoo Trail is one of the most popular family cycle rides in the South East. It got its name from an old Sussex tradition of releasing a cuckoo at the Heathfield Fair. Once a railway line, this trail offers a superb, peaceful, traffic-free route ideal for cyclists and walkers of all ages. Horse riding is also permitted along some rural sections of the route. There is a gentle 122m (400ft) climb over 11 miles (17.5km) from Polegate to Heathfield.
The trail runs through a mixture of broadleaf woodland, open grassland, arable farmland, and pasture with verges that are often thick with seasonal wildflowers like vetch and willowherb. Listen for the laughing call of the green woodpecker and a host of other birds. There's also wild garlic at several places between Hellingly and Horam with its pungent aroma. In early summer, orchids grow near path edges and under trees.
Along the way there are dramatic sculptures and carved wooden seats which were designed and made by Steve Geliot from oaks felled by the great storm of 1987. Look out for the metal sculptures by local artist Hamish Black too.
Along the route you will ride through a number of quaint little villages and near Hailsham you'll find Michelham Priory - a historic house and the remains of an Augustinian Priory set in seven acres of beautiful gardens, surrounded by the longest water-filled medieval moat in England.
If you want to extend the ride, head to Hampden Park in Eastbourne. Here you'll find a large park which has a lovely lake with ducks and swans and a large grassland area for picnics. In spring Hampden Park is awash with flowers including daffodils, crocuses and bluebells.
We have taken all responsible steps to ensure that these routes are safe and achievable by people with a reasonable level of fitness. However, all outdoor activities involve a degree of risk. To the extent permitted by law, Sustrans accepts no responsibility for any accidents or injury resulting from following these routes. Walking and cycling routes change over time. Weather conditions may also affect path surfaces. Please use your own judgement when using the routes based upon the weather and the ability, experience and confidence levels of those in your group.