Long Man of Wilmington, Walks, Hiking, Pub

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PHONE: +44 (0)1273 487188

The Long Man of Wilmington
Windover Hill, Wilmington
Near Eastbourne
East Sussex
BN26 5SW

Phone: +44 (0)1273 487188
Rating: Good exercise, healthy, fun.
Prices: Free access to the Long Man
Info: Walking, hiking, cycling, dog friendly, things to do with kids, pub, parking, horse riding

The famous Long Man of Wilmington is highly recommended if you are seeking an enjoyable and varied walk within the surrounding countryside, or up the Long Man himself. The Long Man lies on the slopes of Windover Hill, 9 miles from Eastbourne and is thought to date back to the 16th century. A climb to the top will give you outstanding views of the East Sussex countryside (and may leave you short of breath if you are a smoker!).

Depicted as an outline of a man holding two poles, the Long Man of Wilmington is 230 feet tall, and 235 feet wide. Windover hill makes an ideal canvass for this interesting figure, as the angle of the slope is roughly 40 degrees, propping him up for all to see.

The difficulty level of the walk is medium. Hiking along downland paths and tracks is to be expected, plus a stretch of country road, and a stile. The landscape is dramatically beautiful at certain times of year, and it is well worth making the effort for the view on the east side of the Cuckmere Valley.

Following sunken tracks, your descent will lead you to Folkington, a small hamlet featuring a 13th century church which can be admired. Following the route will take you to the bottom of the Downs by lovely field paths to a tea garden on the outskirts of Wilmington and then a gentle stroll through the village back to the start.

If you are looking for new places to walk the dogs, try the Long Man as it is dog friendly, with some tracks being enclosed and thus suitable for dogs off the lead. Parking is also available (a long-stay free car park at Wilmington) as well as public toilets (at the car park). There is also a tea shop and pub, if you fancy a refreshing cup of tea or a nice glass of wine.

The narrow village of Wilmington has changed very little over the centuries, which makes this location such an exquisite place to enjoy the country, in this conventionally picturesque part of Sussex. Even the names of the cottages tell stories about the folk who lived there in years gone by: Butchers, Bakers, Candle Stick Makers and Blacksmiths, too!

A drainage ditch runs alongside the houses, which many years ago, would have been used to discard unwanted waste. Little comes close to the magic of Wilmington, and strolling casually down the street in the shade of the trees on a calm summers day, admiring the buildings as you pass them by. It is quaint. And ever so charming. Horse riding can also be enjoyed in Wilmington.

The Long Man figure is looked after by the East Sussex County Council, for the Sussex Archaeological Society. The giant figure remains in good condition, being made from concrete blocks.

Trivia: The Long Man of Wilmington was painted green during the second world war, enabling it to blend in with the hillside, preventing German pilots from using it as a navigational aid.

History: The history of the Long Man of Wilmington dates back to a sketch, a drawing made by a surveyor in 1710, although this drawing was not particularly accurate.

“Optical dating” (or Optically Stimulated Luminescence dating, OSL dating for short) is a method of determining how long ago minerals were last exposed to daylight. It is useful to both archaeologists and geologists as it helps them learn when an event occurred. Using OSL, the University of Reading gave a construction date for the Long Man figure of around 1545, making him nearly 500 years old.

Initially constructed as a chalk outline, the Long Man was renewed with yellow bricks in 1874, and these bricks were then replaced with concrete blocks in 1969, in a slightly different outline.

Animals graze on the slopes, meaning little maintenance is required. Surveyors (measuring the resistance in the soil) believe that one of the poles was originally a rake, and the other pole a scythe, and that the Long Man of Wilmington also wore a head plume.

Some say the figure is from the Roman era, others argue the giant figure dates back to the Bronze Age. Some insist the figure illustrates a companion of King Harold (11th century) and some believe the Long Man depicts a monk, the founder the nearby church priory (early 15th century). It is likely that the truth and origins may never be known.

Much to the amusement of many local residents, a giant 6 meter penis was painted on the Long Man of Wilmington by pranksters. Where else can you find an enormous TWENTY foot erect penis in the English countryside? Why, at the Long Man of Wilmington, of course! The image was more Neolithic than Pornographic, but the pranksters were branded as vandals.

The Long Man of Wilmington, with a 20 foot chalk penis!

We firmly believe someone will rise to the challenge of painting another big willy at some point in time. It would be hard to imagine it never happening again. We’re betting someone has the balls to do it. (Sorry!)

Trinny and Susannah have also transform the Long Man of Wilmington, into a more curvacious woman of Wilmington, by persuading 100 women to dress in white and lie on the figure, giving him/her busty breasts, long curly hair and more curvacious hips.

This of course caused much controversy, and mirth, after the Sussex Archaeological Society was forced to apologise to pagan protesters (who believe the site is sacred) as the society allowed the sex-change to go ahead.

Long Man of Wilmington, Trinny and Susannah

Whether you are hoping to discover a new tea room or a country pub in the heart of the East Sussex countryside, if you would like to discover an exciting new walk, to enjoy bird watching or hiking, the Long Man in Wilmington is a beautiful and pleasurable place the whole family can enjoy, including children and dogs - and is well worth visiting.

Directions to the Long Man of Wilmington: From Eastbourne, follow the signs for the A27, heading towards Brighton to find the Long Man of Wilmington on your left. The Long Man is well signposted from the A27, two miles west of the junction of the A22 (A2270) at Polegate and 10 miles east of Lewes.

Nearby railway stations include Berwick and Polegate, both of which are approximately three miles away.

A Downlander bus and rail ticket will let you explore the South Downs by public transport.