18.7km (11.7 miles)
15km (9.4 miles) ending in Friston, or 16km (10 miles) ending in East Dean
5 out of 10: some steep hill climbs, but mainly flat or undulating
OS Landranger 199; Explorer OL25 (formerly 123).
You could call this a variation on the Berwick to Eastbourne walk in Time Out Country Walks Volume 2. Like that walk, it passes through Wilmington and Jevington, visiting the Long Man of Wilmington en route. This walk, however, takes the more direct Wealdway route to Wilmington (borrowed from Free Walk 90 Berwick to Seaford on this site) and then goes across the top of the South Downs to Jevington. After that, the walk follows a long ridge with fine views to the village of Friston, from where you can walk down onto Flagstaff Point, one of the Seven Sisters, to end the walk at Birling Gap.
Note that the ending at Birling Gap only works when the 13X bus is running. This runs throughout the year on Sundays, at weekends and on bank holidays from April to June and daily from late June to late September. If the 13X is not running, you can finish the walk at Friston, taking the number 12 bus to Eastbourne or Seaford to return home, or walk from Flagstaff point to Exceat to catch the number 12 from there (a route 2.4km/1.5 miles longer than the one to Birling Gap).
An alternative idea is to walk the short distance from Friston to East Dean, where there are various tea options: see walk directions and the Tea section below for details
|Points of interest||
The Long Man of Wilmington is one of those ancient chalk figures that may not in fact be that ancient. Certainly if you get up close to it, as you do on this walk, you will see that it is not a chalk-cut figure at all, but outlined by white stones, cemented together. These date from 1874, and before they were put in place the figure was only visible in certain lights.
The earliest known drawing of the figure dates from 1766, but in that it is holding a rake and a scythe, not the long poles it now has. How much earlier than that the figure was created, no one knows.
Whoever did create it understood perspective – it is elongated so that it looks in proportion when viewed from below. It is also special in depicting a human figure at all – though there are several white horses dotted around the country, the only other human chalk cut figure in England is the Cerne Abbas giant near Dorchester.
To reach Berwick, take a train to Lewes from Victoria, and change there for hourly trains to Berwick. The online rail timetable often suggests changing at Polegate, but there is no advantage in this. Catch the first train after 9am to get to Berwick in time (currently the 9.47). Buy a day return to Eastbourne.
For buses at the end of the walk, see Walk Notes above
The Giant’s Rest in Wilmington (01323 870207) www.giantsrest.co.uk 4.8km/3 miles into the walk, is a deservedly popular pub with a Bohemian atmosphere and a very creative menu. It serves food all day Saturdays and Sundays, and from 12-3pm and 7-9pm on weekdays.
The Eight Bells in Jevington (see Tea below) is also a possible late lunch stop 10.6km (6.6 miles) into the walk
If it is open, Jevington Tea Garden (01323 489692) 10.4km (6.5 miles) into the walk is the ideal tea stop, set in the garden of a private house, with some outside tables. It is open Mother’s Day-late Oct 11am-5pm Wed-Sun.
Otherwise, 200 metres up the road is the Eight Bells pub (01323 484442, www.8bellsonline.co.uk ) , which is open all afternoon for drinks, but only serves food till 3pm.
If you can reach it in time, the National Trust café at Birling Gap (01323 423197) is open until 5pm in summer or 4pm in winter.
If ending in East Dean, refreshment options include the Tiger Inn, the Hikers Rest café which is open until 4.30pm in winter and 5.30pm in summer and – surprisingly – a delicatessen open till 5pm Monday to Saturday and 4pm Sunday, which serves hot drinks and cakes. All are grouped around the village green
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Out: (not a train station)
National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Travelline SE (bus times): 0871 200 2233 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234
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Full directions for this walk are in a PDF file (link above) which you can print, or download on to a Kindle, tablet, or smartphone.
This is just the introduction. This walk's detailed directions are in a PDF available from wwww.walkingclub.org.uk