South Downs Way 5 : Amberley to Shoreham By Sea or Lancing walk

A ridge walk along the South Downs Way, passing Chanctonbury Ring.


This is a list of previous times this walk has been done by the club (since Jan 2010). For more recent events (since April 2015), full details are shown.

Date Post # Weather
Sat, 28-Aug-21 Saturday walk - Amberley to Shoreham-by-Sea - South Downs and a swim in the sea 13 sometimes sunny sometimes not
Sat, 25-Jan-20 Saturday Walk - South Downs Way: Amberley to Shoreham-by-Sea 10 low clouds that never truely lifted
Sat, 27-May-17 Along the South Downs to the sea 12 cloudy and windy but dry
Sun, 19-Jul-15 South Downs Ridge walk to the sea
Sun, 15-Jun-14 Amberley to Shoreham 14
Sun, 06-Oct-13 Amberley to Bramber 9
Sat, 11-Aug-12 Amberley to Bramber
Sat, 11-Aug-12 Amberley to Shoreham
Sat, 17-Mar-12 Amberley to Lancing
Mon, 19-Jul-10 Amberley to Shoreham
Sun, 11-Jul-10 Amberley to Shoreham
Sat, 01-May-10 Bramber to Amberley
Sat, 12-Sep-09 South Downs Way 5 : Amberley to Shoreham By Sea or Lancing
Sun, 17-May-09 South Downs Way 5 : Amberley to Shoreham By Sea or Lancing
Sat, 28-Jun-08 South Downs Way 5 : Amberley to Shoreham By Sea or Lancing
Sat, 08-Sep-07 South Downs Way 5 : Amberley to Shoreham By Sea or Lancing
Sat, 28-Aug-21
Saturday walk - Amberley to Shoreham-by-Sea - South Downs and a swim in the sea
Length: 19.4km (12.1 miles) to Upper Beeding or 25km (15.5 miles) to Shoreham
9.35 train from Victoria (9.42 Clapham Junction, 9.53 East Croydon) to Amberley, arriving 10.57.
Buy a day return to Ford (two stops beyond Arundel and also on the coastal route, so valid for return from Shoreham)

For walk directions click here, for GPX click here, for a map of the route click here.
Experience has taught me that if trains to the coast are busy on bank holiday weekends, the lines to Amberley and Shoreham-by-Sea generally are not. But this is an unusual year, so no guarantees.... There could be longer than usual ticket queues at Victoria.
This is a simple but very scenic walk along the crest of the South Downs, with fine views. Pub lunchers can descend after about six miles to the Frankland Arms in Washington ("Our Nation's Capital" as the National Geographic magazine used to say in my youth...), whose website seems to suggest it is open and serving food all afternoon: but you might want to phone 01903 891 405 to check before you commit yourself. Sandwiches can save themselves 1km of walking and stay on the ridge.
Just after lunch the walk passes the ancient hill fort of Chanctonbury Ring. A little while later you can choose to descend to the pretty twin villages of Bramber and Upper Beeding (the 12.1 mile version of the walk), where there are a couple of pubs for tea. Buses to Shoreham-by-Sea station go from here at 44 past the hour till 18.44 and then at 19.38 (etc), taking 19 minutes.
Otherwise, the main (15.5 mile) walk - recommended - continues down to Shoreham-by-Sea, ending up along the Adur river. I would personally diverge slightly from the official route here, by crossing Old Shoreham Bridge and walking down the east bank of the river - a pleasant and flowery walkway (on the west bank you are walking along the edge of the airport...)
Shoreham itself has a pretty pedestrianised area with various tea options, if you can get there before they close at 5-5.30pm. After that there are pubs. For a swim in the sea, cross the footbridge over the harbour and walk straight through the modern housing area beyond. Shoreham beach is gently-shelving shingle and so a great place for an early evening dip, if the weather/sea conditions are amenable.
Trains back from Shoreham are at 12 and 42 past, taking 1 hour 16 minutes
  • 28-Aug-21

    13 on this walk. An early blow was the information that the Frankland Arms was fully booked by a biker event. Two walkers headed off to the Riverside Tea Rooms as a result in the hope of buying lunch items. They were never seen again….

    The rest of us climbed up onto the broad downs with their fine views and only the irregular passing of cyclists to disturb us. The weather was sometimes sunny sometimes not . As the afternoon wore on dark clouds built up but it never actually rained.

    The towering eminence of Chanctonbury Ring seemed the obvious picnic place, even though we did not get there till 2pm or so, and several of us lunched there as dragonflies flew overhead. Down in the valley there was a vast rock festival, whose geography was interesting to observe. Thankfully the bands had either not started playing or their efforts were inaudible.

    The afternoon of this walk seemed long - great rolling landscapes of harvested wheat and low hills. Some may have taken the shorter route to Upper Beeding.

    The rest of us passed Lancing College and took the east river path into Shoreham. Two went for drinks here, two or three for tea, one for the train, and two for a swim. The sun broke though for this, casting a silvery trail on the slatey-blue sea. The water was colder than it ought to be in late August but we stayed in for 15 minutes. Then we joined the other two in the pub and got the 18.43 train, where another SWC-er who had been on a nature walk joined us: we had a pleasant run back to London, fortified by “supplies”.

Sat, 25-Jan-20
Saturday Walk - South Downs Way: Amberley to Shoreham-by-Sea
Length: 24.1 km (15.0 mi) [Shorter Walks possible, see below]
Ascent/Descent: 458/461m
Net Walking Time: ca. 6 hours (add 10 mins for diverting to the lunch pub)
Toughness: 6 out of 10
Take the 08.36 Southampton Central & Bognor Regis train from Victoria (CJ 08.43, EC 08.53), arrives Amberley 09.57. You have to be in the rear part of the train, which splits at Horsham.
Thameslink-ites: take the 08.35 train from London Bridge (all stations from Bedford) and change at Gatwick Airport (09.04/09.09).
Return trains from Shoreham-by-Sea: xx.12, xx.43 (both direct) & xx.47 (change Brighton)
Buy a Ford return! (that’s where the two lines meet).
From the webpage:
This walk, which can be done in either direction, follows the South Downs Way (SDW). The route follows the crest of the South Downs Ridge with good views in both directions. It passes Chanctonbury Ring, a ring of trees planted on the remains of an ancient Hill Fort. This spot has a beautiful 360° views, and is the recommended picnic spot.
Apart from the endings in Shoreham or Lancing, the route is very well way-marked. All the paths are wide, easy to walk on, and easy to follow. The route is almost entirely over an open and treeless chalk ridge, which is very exposed in wet or windy weather. [But the prevailing wind is from behind, of course.]
At the half-way point, there is a break in the ridge, where the route crosses the A24 dual carriageway. There is a slightly longer 'via Washington alternative' which avoids this crossing, and passes a walker-friendly pub (re-opened March 2019).
Walk Options (for details see webpage and map):
· Finish in Bramber for a bus to Shoreham
· Finish at Lancing station (walk 15 minutes through suburbia)
Lunch: The Frankland Arms (11.0 km/6.9 mi, food all day) in Washington. It looks like “Mat and Yan” have taken on a 20-year lease on this formerly shut Enterprise Inn pub, so let’s support them by spending loads…
Tea: several options on beach and river, near the station.
For walk directions, map, height profile, some photos and gpx/kml files click here. T=swc.26
  • 25-Jan-20

    Massive numbers of walkers alighted at Amberley, 29 of whom were on a Meetup walk doing exactly our route, but without turning left to the pub in Washington (as it turned out). They paid £28 (inc. the train ticket, mind you) each for the privilege of being led by someone from Outdooraholics, or some such outfit.

    Us 10 humble SWCers strode past them as they were getting their briefing and thought we'd left the masses behind with that, only to soon hear frantically barking dogs in the near distance (this is still on the main road just outside the station). I expected the West Sussex Hunt in full action, about to chase the odd fox. Then suddenly hundreds of runners (lots of them with dogs) erupted onto the road out of the old chalk pit (now Amberley Museum) and ran up the road and turned right up 'our' lane (High Titten). Most of them we never saw again, but their backmarkers overtook us later, when their (a little wider) route had re-joined the SDW. [MaverickRace were the organisers.]

    The uphill track was a little slippery, so we were glad to accept the option of the grassy Access Land to the left for a long stretch and then for another. Views were practically non-existing, as the low cloud (or was it fog?) turned everything into a grey mush, and there was a cold wind about. The weather did not really change at all to lunch in Washington, where the pub has re-opened and has potential, but the food was a bit average if we're honest, although it came in large portions. The beers were well-kept though (Old Red Ale anyone?). The front of the Meetup lot had caught us just before the village (I thought they were a led group? But maybe their fast walkers just followed us, as to the pub they certainly did not go?), but that was all we saw of them for the rest of the day.

    Back up the ridge steeply, emerging by Chanctonbury Ring. Further along, there were glimpses of views and even some blue sky for seconds, but in summary, it was low clouds that never truely lifted . A pheasant shoot passed us (in their 4x4s, with the dead beasts in the back).

    No one took any shortcuts or official alternative endings, so we all (bar the gpx-led backmarker) descended towards Shoreham together, but 2 then crossed the first bridge over the Adur and followed a dismantled railway line into town, rather than turning right along the seawall. The seawall route is quite enjoyable (especially after the demoralising A27 dual-carriageway) and then everyone of us headed straight to the station despite a plethora of tea options (bar the 2 with the alternative route into town and the backmarker). 16.43 train.

    The gpx route diverges from the text in quite a few places.

Sat, 27-May-17
Along the South Downs to the sea
Extra Walk 26 – Amberley to Shoreham-by-Sea
Length: 24.1km (15 miles) Toughness: 5/10 T=SWC.26b

09:36 Chichester and Bognor Regis train from Victoria (Clapham Junction 09:42, East Croydon 09:53) arriving at Amberley at 10:55. The train divides at Horsham, so make sure you are in the back half of the train.

Return trains direct from Shoreham-by-Sea to Victoria are at xx:17 and xx:42 (journey time 70-75 mins). Don’t bother taking the alternative route at xx:04 and xx:34, changing at Brighton, as this would save 3 minutes at most.

Buy an off-peak day return to Ford, which will be valid for both the outward and return journeys. Separate Advance tickets for each journey will be a bit cheaper if you buy them now and are prepared to commit yourself to getting a particular train back.

This glorious long walk along the crest of the South Downs ridge hasn’t been done on a Saturday for five years, so it’s due for an outing, especially as fine weather is forecast. There are splendid views to both sides, but little shade along the way, so don’t forget the sun cream. Most of the route follows the South Downs Way, only diverting from it to get to a lunchtime pub (the Frankland Arms (01903 892220) in Washington), which adds one mile to the length. However, this is an ideal walk for a picnic, so there’s no need to divert unless you particularly want a pub lunch. Chanctonbury Ring hill fort is passed in the early afternoon.

For tea, there are plentiful cafes in Shoreham. Tom Foolery in the High Street has been recommended and seems to stay open quite late.

The walk can be shortened to 12 miles by descending into Bramber (as described in the walk directions), where you can catch bus no. 2 for a 20-minute journey to Shoreham-by-Sea, departing at 15:43, 16:45, 17:39, 18:40 and 19:33. Later in the walk there’s a slightly shorter ending at Lancing, but this finishes with a mile along suburban roads.

You will need to download the Walk Directions.
  • 28-May-17

    12 cloudy and windy but dry

    General relief that we weren't doing this shadeless walk in baking sunshine. Two of the Five who detoured to the Frankland Arms for lunch met the picnickers for tea in the Crown and Anchor in Shoreham.

  • David Colver

    From the top of the Downs there was clearly visible to the north some kind of festival, with many cars and tents and suchlike. And we came to a slightly tatty van, parked with a couple of dishes, one pointing towards said event and the other towards the sea, clearly marked as a temporary broadband relay for the festival.

    Anyone know what that festival might be? From the map the most plausible location is Parham House, but I can't see any major event listed there in late May.

Sun, 19-Jul-15
South Downs Ridge walk to the sea
Free walk 26b Amberley to Shoreham on Sea (via Washington for pub lunch)
25.6km (16m); toughness 5/10
Trains: London Victoria 10:02 (Clapham Junction 10:07 and East Croydon 10:17) to Amberley 11:26.
Return trains direct from Shoreham to London Victoria are at xx:48. You can however get a train from Shoreham to Brighton at 17:07 and thereafter at xx:03 to pick up a frequent fast train from Brighton to London Victoria.
Because Amberley and Shoreham are on different lines you will need to buy a day return to Ford where the two lines converge. This ticket is also valid for Lancing if you wish to cut the walk short.
This is a superb South Downs Way ridge walk on a very well marked route. There are panoramic views throughout.
I have suggested the Frankland Arms in Washington for your pub lunch (01903 892220) but this makes the walk 25.6km (16m).
This is an excellent picnic walk and if you do not want a pub lunch or a drink you can have your sandwiches/picnic at Chanctonbury Ring – the site of an ancient hill fort. This makes the walk 24.1km (15m).
Shortening the walk
1. Finish in Upper Beeding and take a bus to Brighton. About 19km (12m)
2. Finish in Lancing where there are two trains an hour to Brighton. Distance is 21.8km (13.5m)
You can find walk instructions here but it is a good idea to either print off the maps on the walks page, or bring your own maps or a gps device.

There are swimming opportunities in Lancing and Shoreham
  • Anonymous

    Bus from Upper Beeding (The Rising Sun) are 42 mins past the hour until 5.46 pm and the last bus is 6.46 pm to Brighton. Great walk. Picnic recommended. LM.

  • Anonymous

    Watch out for sharks peeps! Smooth-hounds! Unlike basking sharks these eat crustaceans so where that leaves walkers' ankles I don't know.

  • 20-Jul-15

    Six on this walk, setting out about 30 mins late because of signal problems near Gatwick, but enjoying warm sunny weather with a cooling breeze. At the start of the walk I prefer to walk through fields and along narrow tracks adjacent to the SDW so avoiding a fair bit of "traffic" near Amberley. We split up and reformed along the panoramic route with most having a late lunch at Chanctonbury Ring. Two then went to Upper Beeding for a bus to Shoreham whilst 4 of us walked on to Shoreham which now has a couple of nice cafes in the "gentrified quarter" near the church where at one we had a much needed cuppa and other refreshments before heading to the station and gettinga train to Brighton for a fast return to London. A terrific day's walking and quite tiring in the heat. In the future it may be best to have an early 9.00 am train start for this walk as this gives you a better chance of arriving at Shoreham's cafes in good time. A marvellous day out in great company.

    Towards the end of the walk the gpx map route does not follow the written instructions in a couple of places and I took the opportunity to take a different estuary route into Shoreham on the opposite side to the one running close to the airfield. This mainly follows a cycle route but you can walk on a clear track right next to the estuary edge. You also pass a fine looking pub - the Red Lion - early on.

  • Anonymous

    Avoid walking in to Upper Beeding on relentless Cement and Tarmac along the Monarch's Way. Completely poitless. Stay on the SDW until you hit the main road: is it the A286, Shoreham Road. The bus stops where the SDW crosses the road. Alternatively, circle round from Cissbury Ring leaving the SDW and decend past Chactonbury Ring to Findon and get a bus there.