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5 autumn walks in Sussex suitable for wheelchairs, pushbikes and buggies

PUBLISHED: 10:08 25 September 2018 | UPDATED: 10:08 25 September 2018

Rye Harbour (Photo by Hazel Sillver)

Rye Harbour (Photo by Hazel Sillver)

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We pick five scenic routes across Sussex that are suitable for wheelchairs, pushbikes and buggies

Chichester Canal

This beautiful waterway runs for 7km (4.5 miles) from the city to the sea at Birdham. Completed in 1822, it was immortalised in oils by JMW Turner in 1828. The towpath is part of the New Lipchis Way and is suitable for buggies, pushbikes and wheelchairs between the Canal Basin at Chichester and Hunston – a stretch of about 4km (2.5 miles).

Look out for herons, water voles and woodpeckers and the blue flash of kingfishers over the water. Boat trips are available throughout the year, with the Kingfisher boat providing disabled access and a disabled toilet; there are also disabled toilets at the Canal Basin. Rowing boats can be hired from the Canal Centre and allow calm dogs. For cyclists, the canal path connects to the Bill Way at Hunston and the Salterns Way at Birdham.

Where to refuel: The Canal Centre café is wheelchair accessible. For a pub lunch, head to The Blacksmiths Arms at Donnington , which has disabled access, a disabled toilet and welcomes dogs in the front bar, or The Spotted Cow at Hunston, which has disabled access, an accessible toilet and allows dogs in the bar. 


Rye Harbour

This 465-hectare nature reserve is composed of shingle ridges, saltmarsh and scrub, which provide a vital habitat for wildlife, including 300 rare or endangered species. In autumn, some birds (including large numbers of swallows) gather before migrating south and others (such as Brent geese) arrive in the UK for the winter. From the car park, a quiet tarmac road leads alongside the River Rother down to the sea and then along the coast for almost three miles to Winchelsea Beach where there is a disabled toilet. There are several walk routes, including a circular two-miler (3.3km) suitable for buggies and wheelchairs. Of the five hides, two are fully accessible with the rest accessible to electric wheelchairs and scooters.

Manual and electric chairs are available to hire from the information centre and can be delivered to the car park. Bikes and wheelchairs can be hired from Rye Hire. Dogs are welcome in the nature reserve and will love the vast beach at low tide. There is a disabled toilet 80m from the Rye Harbour car park that can be accessed with a RADAR key.

Where to refuel: The William the Conqueror pub in Rye Harbour has disabled access, a disabled toilet and allows dogs. 


Brighton-to-Saltdean Undercliff

This accessible promenade runs for three miles (5km) along the bottom of chalk cliffs from Brighton Marina to Saltdean. At first narrow, the way widens as it passes the pretty marina and then runs alongside the sea to Ovingdean and on to Rottingdean and then Saltdean. The route is suitable for wheelchairs, pushbikes and buggies and is an exhilarating walk with the sea breeze in your hair. There are RADAR accessible toilets on the Undercliff at Saltdean, Rottingdean and Ovingdean, and at Brighton Marina.

On very windy days when the tide is in, waves can spray water over the Undercliff. Those in lower wheelchairs may not be able to see over the sea wall in places. Do not take wheelchairs onto the sea ramps. Pedestrians and wheelchairs have priority so cyclists must keep to a reasonable speed.

Sheffield Park, near Uckfield

The gorgeous garden at Sheffield Park is at its best in autumn when the leaves blush fiery colours. Pushchairs and wheelchairs can access the garden, but it is not suitable for cycling. The autumn leaves (especially those of the acer and tupelo trees) are usually at their best in October, but it’s best to phone in advance to ensure you get the leaf timing right. There are five manual wheelchairs (which don’t require booking) and three double powered mobility vehicles (which require booking) available to hire.

There are three accessible toilets and the tearoom has disabled access. Wheelchair users will be given a map of accessible garden routes at the entrance. Entry is £11.90, but free for RHS and National Trust members.

Where to refuel: There is a tearoom at Sheffield Park or the nearby Sloop Inn is a relaxed dog-friendly country pub with disabled access and a disabled toilet. 


Cuckmere Haven, near Seaford

The Seven Sisters Country Park encompasses the beautiful Cuckmere River, which meanders to the sea and the Seven Sisters chalk cliffs. The Easy Access Trail is a hard track suitable for wheelchairs, pushbikes and buggies, which runs along the valley towards the river mouth.

The route is easy wheeling for almost a mile and then forks into two: the left-hand route soon becomes a grass path and the straight-on option is a stony flat track, which may require manual wheelchairs to be pushed. There is a short pebbly incline before the pebble beach at the end. The visitor centre at Exceat has an accessible toilet. Use the car park on the south side of the A259 if you don’t want to cross the main road.

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