Cuckoo Trail Traffic-free Cycle Route

Cuckoo Trail Cycle Route Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

The Cuckoo Trail runs from Heathfield to Polegate, passing through Hellingly, Horam, and Hailsham. The trail got its name from an old tradition of releasing a cuckoo at the Heathfield Fair, and offers 14 miles of traffic-free bliss in East Sussex.

This is a disused railway, and so is mainly flat, with gentle gradients. It forms part of NCN 21.

Be aware that the entire route isn’t traffic-free. When it reaches Hailsham, there are two fairly short on-road sections, but the roads are mainly quiet.

There are no cafés directly on the trail, which is a huge missed opportunity.


The surface is almost entirely tarred, and mostly smooth. Be aware that there are some bumpy bits, though they are the exception.


The cuckoo trail can be cycled using basically any type of standard bicycle.


Toilets aren’t directly on the trail. However, in Heathfield there are toilets in the Waitrose. The next toilets are in the Asda, in Hailsham – that’s slightly off the trail.


Safety: ⭐⭐⭐
Hilliness: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Refreshment stops: ⭐
Barriers: ⭐⭐
Surface: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Overall: ⭐⭐⭐

The grading system I use is explained here.

Forecast for the Cuckoo Trail

What it looks like

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DayCycle routes are routes can can easily be cycled by most people in a day, or part of a day. Do have a look at all the other DayCycle routes available on WillCycle. Many contain detailed route guides, as well as embedded maps (like the one below) from which you can download the GPX file for the route.

1 thought on “Cuckoo Trail Traffic-free Cycle Route”

  1. I cycled this today (from Horam down to Polegate) and it was a very pleasant ride (and surprisingly free of people/bikes in most parts – possibly due to the weather). I agree about the barriers and Heathfield road section – which really could use better signing. Something to consider in wet weather is that a few sections can get rather flooded (only inches, but enough to slow you down).


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