There are few dates in British history as well known as 1066 — the year of the Battle of Hastings. This decisive event changed the course of English history, heralding the start of the Norman conquest. On this fascinating hike, you pass through majestic landscapes as you visit significant historical sites, following in the footsteps of kings.
Upon the death of King Edward in January 1066, his successor was contended. The Anglo-Saxon court crowned the nobleman Harold Godwinson as king, but his brother Tostig, the Norwegian ruler Harald Hardrada and Duke William of Normandy all had other ideas. This started a string of sieges upon King Harold in the south east of England, where landfall was easiest. When William invaded at Pevensey in September of the same year, building wooden fortifications in the settlement and at Hastings, Harold’s forces were weakened.
What ensued was the famous battle just northwest of Hastings, at the now-named town of Battle. William’s forces defeated Harold, who was killed in the fight. When William became king later that year, he founded Battle Abbey on the site of the conflict.
While hiking through this landscape, you follow in William’s footsteps and pass through the battle site and abbey grounds. This medieval route is one of flat marshlands, rolling hills, old villages with oast houses and ancient windmills. It passes through the southern edge of the High Weald AONB and whilst you ramble about gentle undulations, there are no challenging climbs.
Some of the fantastic highlights on this walk are Pevensey Castles, Herstmonceux Castle, Battle Abbey and the beautiful medieval village of Winchelsea. As you hike, keep an eye out for the 10 sculptures on this trail, each linked to the 1066 battle. They’re artistic reminders of this area’s tumultuous history.
The South East has fairly mild winter weather but I recommend hiking this route between late spring and early autumn. This allows you to make the most of longer days and flourishing landscapes. Each stage ends in a place where you can find food and accommodation but it’s much more scarce at the end of the first stage, so I have included specific recommendations in the Tour description.
To reach the beginning, you can catch a train to Pevensey station, mere moments from the castle. At the end, you can take the train from Rye, which is on the same line as Pevensey. It’s easy to reach London from either station.
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Last updated: April 18, 2023
Plan your own version of this adventure in the multi-day planner based on the stages suggested in this Collection.
This first stage takes you from Pevensey, where William the Conqueror landed his troops, across the Pevensey Levels and into the south of the High Weald’s low hills. The first half is flat and you ascend gently out of the levels at Herstmonceux Castle to reach the Roman settlements of Boreham Street…
by Kit P
This hike leads you through the most important area in the history of 1066. In the landscapes where you walk, the respective kings would have amassed their troops before finally meeting at the battle site, which you reach in the middle of this stage. This walk is gently undulating throughout and has…
by Kit P
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The final stage whisks you through the very edge of the High Weald AONB and along the edge of Brede Vale. You explore the gorgeous town of Winchelsea before hiking across the marshes to the historic town of Rye. This hike is filled with intriguing sites, both natural and human, with fortifications, churches…
by Kit P
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