Egrets Way – unsurfaced section


Phase Two of Egrets Way (Southease to Rodmell) still has only half the river bank section surfaced, at the request of the landowner. This makes the full route unsuitable for the young, less experienced and less able unless the ground is hard and worn smooth. Cycle Seahaven contacted the Egrets Way project to see if this was likely to be remedied.

Below is a copy of our letter and the reply.


Dear Sir,
We are disappointed to see that the northern half of the section between Southease and Rodmell remains ‘unsurfaced at the request of the landowner’. This is unfortunate because the unsurfaced section is unsuitable for the inexperienced, young or less able. As an fully inclusive club Cycle Seahaven are unable to recommend this section of Egrets Way to our members or in response to public requests for route guidance. This is a real shame as it renders the surfaced section much less appealing.
Do you know the reasons for not surfacing this part of the new bridleway, and whether there is something the public can do to help make the entire section rideable for everyone?
We would be grateful for your permission to publish your response on our website.
Cycle Seahaven remains strong supporters for OVCN and Egrets Way and we look forward to the opening of a  shared route between Lewes and Newhaven.
Thanks and regards,
Andy Lock
Cycle Seahaven


From the Egrets Way Project Committee
The Egrets Way Project seeks to create a safe shared path linking Newhaven and Lewes alongside the river with connections to communities in the Ouse Valley and to other paths and cycle routes. We have made remarkable progress in just three years with the Kingston to Lewes link opened last September and a bridleway section between Rodmell and Southease opened in June. Last month we were granted planning permission for the whole of the remaining riverside path and, if discussions with landowners to secure the necessary agreements are successful, there is a real prospect of completing further sections in the foreseeable. This is thanks to a government grant awarded to the South Downs National Park to improve cycling in the Park illustrating how the mix of a local community group and a National body working in partnership is critical to success. However even with planning permission granted and funding available the Egrets Way vision can only become reality with the good-will and agreement of landowners.
You ask about the section of the Southease-Rodmell bridleway that remains unsurfaced. We had the funds for this but the landowner involved, whilst agreeing to the creation of a new bridleway, did not want a constructed path. Although a disappointment we should gratefully accept what has been achieved: a new path that cyclists and horse riders can legitimately use where previously there was none. We recognise this may limit its use to summer months for some, but not all, users. For family cycling there is still the opportunity to enjoy a safe cycle ride in tranquil and beautiful countryside using the half mile surfaced section running from Southease Bridge with options of riding on the South Downs Way lane to Southease village or in the other direction to the nearby South Downs YHA with its Courtyard café open to all.
So let’s celebrate and enjoy what’s been achieved, anticipate the completion of further sections in the foreseeable future and hope for the upgrading of any unsurfaced sections in the longer term.
Neville Harrison
Chair Egrets Way Project

4 replies
  1. Rosemary Collict
    Rosemary Collict says:

    I read the Egrets Way reply with interest as we walked the Rodmell to Southease section on the weekend it opened and found it to be, even on foot, very uncomfortable walking. In the winter months the quality not the walking will decrease still further, particularly when used by horseriders. No reply has been given to Cycle Seahaven’s question as to whether the public can do anything as far as bringing pressure to bear on the landowner is concerned. If his/her name and contact details were known, people would be able to approach the landowner directly. It would be helpful if this information were available to the public.

  2. Clive Aberdour
    Clive Aberdour says:

    Is it anticipated that the Egrets Way will ever be suitable for road bikes, ie it will have a hard surface such as tarmac. Obviously if part of it is unsurfaced then it’s useless as a link between Lewes and Newhaven for road bikes such as tourers even if the rest of it has a good surface.

  3. Rod Lambert
    Rod Lambert says:

    This looks like a fundamental stumbling block to the whole route. As Clive points out, if the route is unsuitable for road/touring bikes it makes the route much less valuable as a transport link because it will be limited to mountain bikes and horse riders.
    What’s needed is a safe alternative to the C7 for commuters and tourers to fully realise the benefits from such a route.
    However, once the route is established and landowners realise that cyclists are nice people who don’t burn and pillage the land, it might then be easier to persuade them to allow a better surface.
    Yes the route is half finished but maybe the glass is half full? Fingers crossed!

  4. Andy Lock
    Andy Lock says:

    The surface options for Egrets Way are listed in the planning application. Sustrans’ favoured dressing is chippings on tarmac (Page 17, Specifications) as used on the Ouse Estuary Trail – it’s about the same price as most other surfaces but lasts twice as long. There have been a few objections to the possible installation of a black-top highway though the Lower Ouse, so public opinion may force the use of a less ‘industrial’ finish to be more in keeping in the National Park. Type 1 or cinder dressings could be used, but in turn make the route less suitable for everybody.
    The other issue is speed. Egrets Way will be a shared route, meaning it is open to walkers, mobility vehicles, child scooters and bicycles (and likely horses on some of the route, if not all). Smooth surfaces enable faster cycling which may increase the risk of harm in an incident.

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