In 2014 MSABG donated £1,000 toward funding a section (phase 2) of a one-mile path alongside the River Ouse called the Egrets Way, linking Rodmell village (bridleway Rodmell 7) and Southease (the South Downs Way) at the Southease bridge. Other local groups and organisations also made donations.
The Egrets Way project got underway in 2011 and can be found in our previous post in the MSABG website’s news section (Egrets Way – phase 2 official opening).
Group committee members were hot on the trail making sure that equestrians were included in the past and forthcoming plans making sure that the routes became multi-user paths (Ref: October 2013 Newsletter page 7 & Spring 2021 Newsletter page 6).
One of the first jobs was to identify the route, which meant obtaining landowners and planning consent as well as getting funding for most sections of the path.
The route has been constructed in phases; phase 1 was opened officially in September 2012/13 and phase 2 was officially opened in June 2014. Three more phases of construction comprising five miles of path costing £2 million have now been completed.
The latest development will complete the Lewes to Newhaven part of the Egrets Way and will finally create connectively between the two towns and allows a safe and easily accessible route for people of all mobility to travel between the two towns.
The route of the Egrets Way goes from Newhaven’s Riverside Park and following the course of the River Ouse it travels north to Lewes. It passes close to the villages of Piddinghoe and Southease where it loops inland to link up with the villages of Kingston on to Swanborough and Iford and then to Rodmell. At various different locations it joins up with the South Downs Way (SDW), Bridleways, Permissive Bridleways and Quiet Lanes.
This multi-user path measuring 8.8 km in length is between 2.5 – 3 metres in width and is finished in a gravel dressing. There were about 600 users in 2016 but during last year the number increased to 2,400 showing just how useful it has become.
The distance takes the user on a journey through landscapes that are as archaeologically fascinating as well as captivating. There are sites of special scientific interest, pubs, medieval waterways, working farms, lots of wildlife and not forgetting the little Egret, the namesake of the route.
The surrounding topography is generally flat and has a network of fields divided by ditches with few fences in the landscape. Along the route there are views towards Mount Caburn and Lewes.
There is support for the Egrets Way from the following:
- The South Downs Society who support a shared user path, a link between Newhaven and Lewes.
- Mid Sussex Area Bridleways Group said it should be a designated bridleway, equestrians need safe off road access and this path now links it with the South Downs Way.
- South Downs Local Access Forum support Paths for Communities, a link to Lewes and Newhaven and a path for bridleway users.
- Cycle Lewes will encourage more cycling within the local area, it would boost tourism and open access to the SDNP.
- Cycle Seahaven said it opens up the area for the public and gives access for walkers, cyclists, horse riders, families and people of all abilities.
- Kingston Road and Cranedown Residents Association said the path is a huge success and gives benefits to other communities in the Lower Ouse Valley.
There is an Egrets Way committee which meets every few months which looks after the path e.g. wear and tear, signage, storm damage, and monitoring of users.
Hopefully riders will soon be able to use the last remaining part of the Egrets Way, (phase 6) stretching right into Newhaven, scheduled to be completed in 2022.
A useful map showing the full extent of the Egrets Way and the connecting paths that join up to it, can be accessed by clicking on the following link: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5ba210db4611a09b277396f5/t/6079676ddadf1639287fc484/1618569072508/Egrets+Way+Overview+EWP+FINAL+draft.pdf