At the end of the Ice Age, some 10,000 years ago, sea levels began to rise, flooding the land dramatically. The map below will give you some idea of what the coastline was like during that period. Over thousands of years, however, the sea and rivers began to deposit sediment and shingle, which were slowly shaped by tides, wave action, currents and man-made sea defences, to produce the coastline we know today.

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The River Brede gently meanders through the south east corner of East Sussex. In the part of its valley shown on the next map over 25 miles of footpaths crisscross this rural landscape, rich in wildlife.

The best way to experience the valley's distinctive peace and tranquillity is to explore it on foot. At several points along the narrow lanes that traverse parts of the valley, look out for signs to the public footpaths marked on this map.

These include the eastern section of the 1066 Country Walk, a path that extends all 31 miles from Pevensey to Rye. Entering the valley near Westfield, it follows a gently undulating route along the northern slopes of the Icklesham ridge, offering spectacular views of Rye and Romney Marsh. Continuing through historic Winchelsea, it follows a lane across the lower valley, before finally reaching Rye by a bridle path along the foot of a line of old sea cliffs. Other public footpaths link the Plough Inn at Cock Marling with the Queen's Head at Icklesham, and Udimore Church with Broad Street Icklesham (from the bridge where this path crosses the Brede another path leads downstream along the right bank of the river all the way to Winchelsea). From Three Oaks one can walk down into the valley and follow the river upstream as far as Brede Bridge.

Another good way to explore the valley is by bicycle, via any of the lanes, or the section of National Cycle Route number 2 which links Winchelsea and Rye.

For information on exploring the nearby Rye Harbour Nature Reserve, visit the Reserve’s informative website www.wildrye.info.

If you’re planning to spend a few days enjoying the sights and sounds of the valley, you’ll find plenty of accommodation in and around the Rye area. The following websites may help you to find what you need, anything from family-run B&Bs to small but luxurious boutique hotels: www.visitrye.co.uk, www.rye-tourism.co.uk and www.highweald.org.

For a detailed overview of the Brede Valley area we recommend Ordnance Survey ‘Explorer’ 1:25,000 maps numbers 124 & 125. Click on Map to enlarge or download your quick guide to the Brede Valley.

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