Berwick to Birling Gap walk

via Wilmington, Jevington and Flagstaff point

Sunset at Birling Gap Berwick to Birling Gap walk
Sunset at Birling Gap

Berwick to Birling Gap walk

Aug-19 • Saturdaywalker on Flickr

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Sheep on South Downs Way (Berwick to Birling Gap)
Sheep on South Downs Way (Berwick to Birling Gap)

Dec-14 • anon_e on Flickr

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South Downs Winter (Berwick to Birling Gap) Downs in winter afternoon light.
South Downs Winter (Berwick to Birling Gap)

Downs in winter afternoon light.

Dec-14 • anon_e on Flickr

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December Sunset (Berwick to Birling)
December Sunset (Berwick to Birling)

Dec-14 • anon_e on Flickr

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Top of the downs Berwick to Birling Gap walk
Top of the downs

Berwick to Birling Gap walk

Mar-16 • Saturdaywalker on Flickr

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Berwick to Birling Gap with SWC Rough seas at Birling Gap, Sussex
Berwick to Birling Gap with SWC

Rough seas at Birling Gap, Sussex

Jun-10 • magyardave2002 on Flickr

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Jevington Tea Gardens Berwick to Birling Gap walk
Jevington Tea Gardens

Berwick to Birling Gap walk

May-12 • Saturdaywalker on Flickr

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Length

Berwick to Birling Gap: 18.9km (11.8 miles)

Berwick to Friston: 15.2km (9.4 miles)

Berwick to East Dean: 16.2km (10.4 miles)

Berwick to Birling Gap and back again to East Dean: 21.3km (13.3 miles)

Berwick to Exceat via Flagstaff Point: 21.1km (13.1 miles)

Toughness

5 out of 10: two well-graded climbs up onto the South Downs, and three short steep climbs onto the Seven Sisters at the end, but otherwise flat or undulating

Maps

OS Landranger 199; Explorer OL25 (formerly 123).

Features

This walk uses the same start as the Berwick to Seaford walk also on this site, following a relatively flat route across fields to the village of Wilmington at the base of the downs, with fine views of its famous chalk cut figure, the Long Man of Wilmington. After Wilmington you go right to the base of the Long Man and climb up onto the downs, crossing their lonely centre to the picturesque village of Jevington, with stunning views en route. After that you climb onto long ridge, with more fine views, to the village of Friston, and descend to the sea at Flagstaff Point, the central point in the Seven Sisters chalk cliffs, walking over three of the Sisters to Birling Gap.

Walk options

Finishing the walk at Birling Gap depends on the 13X bus being in operation: see Transport below. However, if the 13X is not running, you can do this walk in a slightly modified form using the very frequent 12/12A/12X route (also on www.buses.co.uk) which runs daily and year round along the main road from Friston and East Dean to Eastbourne till late in the evening. Using this you can:

finish the walk at Friston after 15km (9.4 miles) or at East Dean (where there are various tea options) after 16.2km (10.4 miles).

walk to Birling Gap and then inland to East Dean, making a total walk of 21.3km (13.3 miles).

walk from Flagstaff Point to Exceat and get the 12 bus from there, making a total walk of 21.2km (13.1 miles) .

Transport

Take a train from London Victoria to Lewes, and change there for hourly trains to Berwick. The online rail timetable usually 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.

At the end of the walk you need to catch a bus to get to Eastbourne railway station. Ideally this should be the 13X, which serves Birling Gap, Beachy Head and Eastbourne in one direction, and Seaford in the other. It operates year round on Sundays, with frequencies of up to every half hour in the summer months. From June to August it also operates hourly on Saturdays, and six times a day on weekdays. The last bus is about 7pm. Check the latest on www.buses.co.uk.

If the 13X is not running, or if you end the walk at Friston or East Dean, the 12, 12A and 12X buses run very frequently to both Eastbourne. There can be buses as often as every ten minutes in the day: later in the evening the service is half hourly but continues till very late. From Exceat it is quicker to get the bus to Seaford rather than Eastbourne and get the train from there. Again see www.buses.co.uk for details.

Trains back from Eastbourne are every half hour until late. A return train ticket to Eastbourne is usually accepted from Seaford if you end up there: trains from this station are half hourly, changing at Lewes for London.

Lunch

An early lunch option is the Long Man Inn in Wilmington (01323 368 525), 4.8km (3 miles) into the walk. I have not tried this pub since it reopened, but it has received good reviews. It serves food all afternoon and evening daily from 11am.

More centrally located on the walk is the very characterful Eight Bells in Jevington (01323 484442), 9.8km (6.1 miles) into the walk, which serves food to 3pm and from 6pm to 9pm Monday to Saturday (plus drinks all afternoon) and all afternoon to 8pm on Sundays. In 2022 it also had a barbecue kiosk serving food to 5pm in the summer months.

Tea

The Jevington Tea Garden (01323 489 692) offers excellent tea and cakes in a tranquil house garden. It is open from 11-5pm Friday to Sunday and bank holidays - in summer at least.

Otherwise in Jevington, the Eight Bells pub 200 metres up the road (see Lunch) serves drinks all afternoon and apparently also offers cakes.

If ending in East Dean, refreshment options include the Tiger Inn on the village green and the adjacent Hikers Rest café which is open until 4.30pm in winter and 5pm in summer.

Otherwise, 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 finishing the walk at Exceat, the Cafe round the Corner by the Seven Sisters Visitor Centre is open daily till 5pm in summer, Thursdays to Sundays till 4pm in winter. Nearby is the Grab and Go kiosk cafe, open till 4pm daily and serving hot drinks, sandwiches and light lunches. Alternatively, 400 metres along the main road, by Exceat Bridge, is the Cuckmere Inn, which has a fine outside terrace and serves hot drinks and food all afternoon and evening.

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By Train

Out (not a train station)

By Car

Start BN26 6TB Map Directions

Finish Birling Gap, East Dean, East Sussex, BN20 0AB Map Directions

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Help

National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Traveline (bus times): 0871 200 22 33 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234

Version

Jul-24 Peter

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Walk Directions

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