The Cuckoo Trail is built on part of the route of the former Eastbourne to Tunbridge Wells railway, known locally as the Cuckoo Line. The line took its name from the Cuckoo Fair, held in Heathfield in April to mark the start of summer.
The complete line opened on 1st September 1880, the section of line between Eastbourne and Hailsham having opened on 14th May 1849. Horam’s station was initially named Horeham Road for Waldron, after the village of Waldron and nearby Horeham Manor. The passenger service between Hailsham and Tunbridge Wells was withdrawn in 1965, and the line closed completely on the 8th September 1968.
The Trail – The railway track bed between Heathfield and Polegate was purchased by the local authority after closure, and opened as a footpath called the Cuckoo Walk. During the early 1990s this path was developed into a surfaced, all-weather track. This was a partnership between the local authorities and Sustrans, a charity promoting safe cycle routes. The trail was officially opened on 20th May 1995 by Gladiator “Jet”. Sculptures alongside the trail mark crossing points, and there are trailside seats carved from Oak trees blown down during the 1987 storm. On the edge of Polegate, an extension from the Cuckoo Trail links with a new cycle route into Eastbourne. A northern extension to the Cuckoo Trail is also planned for the future.
The Cuckoo Trail is suitable for cyclists and walkers of all abilities. Horse riders may use the section between Maynards Green and Hellingly, and also a section on the edge of Polegate. Alternative routes are provided for horse riders and these are shown on leaflets available from Wealden District Council