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Battle - Britain's Most Famous Battlefield

Take a walk into history and visit the field where two men famously fought each other for the English crown.

Distance 6 miles (9.7km)

Minimum time 3hrs

Ascent/gradient 230ft (70m)

Level of difficulty Easy

Paths Field and woodland paths, some road walking, 23 stiles

Landscape Gently undulating farmland and extensive woodland

Suggested map aqua3 OS Explorer 124 Hastings & Bexhill

Start/finish TQ 747161

Dog friendliness Enclosed woodland paths and stretches of 1066 Country Walk suitable for dogs off lead

Parking Pay-and-display car park in Mount Street, Battle

Public toilets Mount Street car park, Brede Lane in Sedlescombe and Battle Abbey

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1 Look for a path and a bungalow called Little Twitten. Turn right after a few paces and follow the Malfosse Walk. As it branches off to the left, continue for a few steps and then veer right.

2 Cross a stile and then follow the waymarked path across several pastures to a gate. Pass through the railway tunnel and veer left, following the woodland path. Cross a track, make for a stile and continue ahead across the field to a stile by the road.

3 Turn left and as you approach the car park at Battle Great Wood, look for a gap in the hedge by the entrance. Cross the field towards woodland. Head for a footbridge and stile and go half right across the field to two stiles. Follow the path as it crosses eight stiles and then keep alongside the trees to two footbridges. Take the right-hand bridge, turn left after several paces, then immediately right. Continue on the path as it runs alongside a stream. Once over the next stile, cross a field to a stile by the A21.

4 Cross to a stile and follow the path across the fields. On reaching a gate and footbridge, follow the path into Sedlescombe, passing the recreation ground. Turn left at the road and walk up into the village.

5 Return to the footbridge and go straight ahead. After about 120yds (109m) look for several stiles over to the left. Turn right to a footbridge and stile and cross some rough ground. Make for two stiles in the field corner and go straight across the next pasture to a stile by the road. Cross over and join the track opposite. Keep left when the track forks. Go through a gate at Beanford Farm and bear right.

6 Pass through a second gate and follow the sunken path curving left through a belt of trees. On reaching a broad grassy ride, continue for a few paces and then veer right at the fork. Turn left at the next ride and follow it to a major junction of tracks. Bear right for several steps, then swing left up the hill.

7 Turn right at a crossroads of tracks and follow the 1066 Country Walk down through the trees. The ride gradually narrows before reaching Marley Lane. Go straight on towards Battle, cross the railway and turn right at the main road. Walk along to Battle Abbey and continue to Mount Street.

If one date from England's glorious past stands out more than any other, it is surely 1066. One of the most important and significant events of the last millennium, the Battle of Hastings represents a defining moment in British history.

Visit the battlefield and you can still sense something of that momentous day when William, Duke of Normandy defeated Harold and his Saxon army and became William the Conqueror of England. See the spot where Harold is believed to have fallen and, by exercising a little imagination, you can picture the bloody events that led to his defeat.

William began by occupying a position on a hill about 400yds (365m) to the south of the English army, massed on a higher hilltop. Harold and his men fortified their formidable position and following abortive uphill charges on the English shield-wall, the Normans withdrew, unable to breach the defences. It looked for a time as if victory was within Harold's grasp until William rallied his men and executed two successful strategies. One was to instruct his bowmen to shoot their arrows indiscriminately into the air, though William had no idea that one of them would hit Harold in the eye, fatally wounding him. William's other plan was to create the impression that his armies were fleeing the battlefield. Sensing victory, the English gave chase but this was to be their downfall. The Normans rounded on them and won the battle. William marched victoriously to London where, on Christmas Day, in Westminster Abbey, he was crowned King of England.

Before the Battle of Hastings, William vowed that if God gave him victory that day, he would build an abbey on the site of the battle at Senlac Field. This he did, with the high altar set up on the spot where Harold died. Little of the church remains today. The abbey, thought to have been completed before William died, was enlarged and improved over the years.However, after the Dissolution of the Monasteries, much of it was converted into a private house by Sir Anthony Browne, Henry VIII's Master of Horse. Today, Battle Abbey is in the care of English Heritage and an immensely popular tourist attraction.

Although it begins in the centre of picturesque Battle, which grew up around the abbey, this attractive walk does not visit Battle Abbey and its historic battlefield until the end, in so doing saving the best until last. Along the way, the walk captures the rural character of East Sussex, stopping off at Sedlescombe, one of the county's prettiest villages, midway round.

Where to eat and drink

There are several pubs, restaurants and tea rooms in Battle, including the 15th-century Kings Head, the Pilgrims Rest tea room and the Almonry Coffee Shop. The Queens Head at Sedlescombe offers snacks, and the Clock House restaurant and tea room opposite serves Sussex cream teas.

What to look for

Sedlescombe is a pretty village with many 16th- and 17th-century houses, which line the main street. Have a look at the old pump under a gable-roofed shelter on the green in Sedlescombe, which dates from 1900.

While you're there

Visit the Church of St Mary the Virgin, built on the battlefield site. The church includes a magnificent Romanesque nave, a Norman font, rare 14th-century wall paintings and the gilded alabaster tomb of Sir Anthony Browne.

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