The best dog walks in Sussex

From National Trust properties to award-winning nature reserves, Sussex offers plenty for you and your dog to explore.

1. Rye Harbour Nature Reserve

Rye Harbour Nature Reserve

Rye Harbour Nature Reserve is a glorious spot to visit. Offering everything from bird watching to beach walking, the area is one of the country’s most important conservation sites, having been made a Site of Special Scientific Interest, a Special Protection Area for Birds (species here included the Common Sandwich, Little Tern, Ringed Plover and Red Shank) and a Special Area of Conservation.

Wildlife-lovers can navigate the Nature Reserve’s extensive network of footpaths at a leisurely pace, taking in miles of extraordinary birdlife, flora and fauna (don’t worry about keeping your dog on the lead, as there’s fencing to protect the birds). Alternatively, the long sandy beach has plenty of space for walks, games of fetch and paddles in the sea. For a moment of quiet reflection, visit the nearby Church of the Holy Spirit, where you’ll find a large memorial commemorating the local Mary Stanford Lifeboat tragedy of 1928.

This stunning stretch of coastline is also where the Normans landed in 1066, so the perfect start or finish to your walk has to be a bite to eat at the aptly-named William The Conqueror pub (car park nearby). Here dogs are warmly welcomed and the sticky toffee pudding is an absolute must.

2. Sheffield Park and Garden

Sheffield Park and Garden

One of Sussex’s most iconic attractions is National Trust property Sheffield Park and Garden, which was mentioned in the Domesday Book and boasts acres of gardens, parkland and woodland. Featuring landscape design by the great Capability Brown, the site is famous for its beautiful lakes, rare trees and shrubs and is particularly worth a visit during spring or autumn, when the display of colours is quite spectacular.

The site is divided into separate areas, which have different rules and opening times when it comes to dog walking. Dogs on a lead aren’t allowed in the garden until after 1.30pm, but the wait is more than worth it. A horticultural work of art, the Grade I garden holds the National Collection of Ghent Azaleas and is overspilling with scents, sights and sounds.

Dogs should be kept on a lead in the parkland to protect the estate’s livestock, but you can let them off the lead in the East Park, which provides lovely views across the lake to the garden. The charming Coach House tea room welcomes dogs in its garden room and there’s a water bowl situated outside the reception building.

3. The Slindon Estate

The Slindon Estate

Previously owned by the Archbishops of Canterbury, the Slindon Estate is situated on the South Downs, Britain’s newest National Park. The 1400-hectare estate is a fantastic destination for walkers and cyclists, featuring miles of footpaths and bridleways.

After a bite to eat at the dog-friendly Slindon Forge Village Shop & Cafe – which is also home to a handy information centre – you can embark on a variety of different walking routes traversing downland, farmland and woodland.

Following a steady climb, you’ll be treated to wonderful views of the coastline, Chichester Cathedral and the Isle of Wight. Another highlight en route is the interesting World War Two building at Gumber Farm, which was built to deflect enemy bombing from RAF Tangmere and is surrounded by carpets of bluebells every spring.

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