This remarkable and idiosyncratic walking route was set up in 1981 by the Vanguards Rambling Club, which takes its name from their being established in the guard’s van of a ramblers’ excursion train – see Rambling Away From ‘The Smoke’ on this website.
Mostly using public rights of way, it runs for 66 miles (107 km) from Croydon through lovely scenery in areas of outstanding natural beauty and a national park: North Downs, Weald, Ashdown Forest, South Downs and Sussex Heritage Coast. Some of the finest views in England greet the walker, especially the heather moorland of the Ashdown Forest, the awe-inspiring meanders of the River Cuckmere and the brilliant white cliffs of the Seven Sisters.
The route passes many places of cultural and historical interest, such as Farleigh Church, Titsey House, Haxted Mill, Dry Hill Fort, Winnie-the-Pooh country, Berwick Church, Charleston Manor, Seaford Head and the abandoned village of Tide Mills. It’s nearly all in open countryside, but goes through a few settlements where refreshments and provisions can be obtained, including Forest Row, Alfriston and Seaford.
The route is divided into ten sections of around 4 to 8 miles, and is well provided with public transport – links are described between the route and stations at Oxted, Edenbridge, East Grinstead, Buxted, Berwick and Seaford, while buses serve other points.
There’s no printed book now, but you can download HERE from the Vanguard Way website free route descriptions written by Colin Saunders. As well as a step-by-step guide and maps, they provide details about items of interest and other useful stuff, and there’s a Companion that provides information about accommodation, refreshments and other facilities along the route.
The spectacular route badge shown here was designed by Colin’s brother Barry, and details of how to get one can be found on the same website (under the ‘Completed Route’ button).