South Downs Winter (Berwick to Birling Gap)

Downs in winter afternoon light.

06-Dec-14 • anon_e on Flickr

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December Sunset (Berwick to Birling)

06-Dec-14 • anon_e on Flickr

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Top of the downs

Berwick to Birling Gap walk

23-Mar-16 • Saturdaywalker on Flickr

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The ridge to Friston

Berwick to Birling Gap walk

19-May-12 • Saturdaywalker on Flickr

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The last section to Birling Gap

19-May-12 • Saturdaywalker on Flickr

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On the Seven Sisters

Berwick to Birling Gap walk

19-May-12 • Saturdaywalker on Flickr

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Flax field

Berwick to Birling Gap

19-May-12 • moontiger on Flickr

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Berwick to Birling Gap walk

via Wilmington, Jevington and Flagstaff point


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
Sun, 14-May-17 15

Over the South Downs to the sea

SWC Walk 129, Berwick to Birling Gap T=SWC.129
Length: 18.7km (11.6 miles) Toughness: 5/10

10:06 Brighton train from Victoria (Clapham Junction 10:12, East Croydon 10:22), changing at Brighton (arr 11:03, dep 11:12) to arrive at Berwick at 11:35.

Trains back from Eastbourne are at xx:59 (journey time 1h 27 mins).

An Off-Peak Day Return to Eastbourne will cover both the outward and return journeys. But you’ll probably find it considerably cheaper to buy separate Advance tickets for each journey, provided you’re willing to commit yourself to getting a particular train back.

The regular 13X bus from Birling Gap to Eastbourne station at 40 minutes past the hour inconveniently arrives there 7 minutes after the hourly London train has departed. There is an extra bus at 17:15 that connects reasonably well with the train. Or you could catch the Eastbourne Sightseeing bus at 17 minutes past the hour, which takes you to the seafront, a 10-minute walk from the station, and connects well with the trains. An alternative is to walk (or take a bus) inland to East Dean (with its refreshment options) from where the frequent no. 12A or 12X buses run to Eastbourne station.

This walk is a variation of the Book 2 Berwick to Eastbourne walk. It visits the Long Man of Wilmington but then takes a different route across the South Downs to Jevington, before following a long ridge towards the coast, arriving in the middle of the Seven Sisters and ending at Birling Gap, where you take a bus into Eastbourne. Those with energy to spare can extend the walk by about 5 miles by continuing over Beachy Head and along the Eastbourne seafront.
An early lunch can be taken at The Giant’s Rest in Wilmington (01323 870207) after 3 miles, or a late lunch at the Eight Bells in Jevington (01323 484442) after 6.6 miles. There are tea options at Birling Gap, East Dean or in Eastbourne.

You will need to download the Walk Directions.
Thanks for posting this lovely walk chris, does this one avoid that horrible sheer vertigo inducing coastal path bit to Eastbourne ?
Anyone going on this walk as I am very interested. Interested in extending walk to Eastbourne via Royal Eastbourne Golf course?

On Sunday there are celebrations and a parade in Brighton for the football team's successful promotion to the Premiership and trains and the station are likely to be busier than usual. I will catch the 09.47 from Victoria to Lewes arriving 10.51 and then pick up the 11.23 from there to arrive in Berwick at 11.35. You have a longer wait at Lewes than Brighton but this could prove less stressful than arriving at a packed and "rowdy" Brighton station. Also if you are at Lewes and anything goes pear shaped with connections to Berwick you can easily improvise a lovely walk from Lewes.
Hi Pete B,

Many thanks for the update about trains and football etc. Like you I will also take the 09.47 train and change at Lewes.

See you at Victoria tomorrow.

15 on this lovely walk with the weather sunny and breezy. An ideal day for walking with the group fragmenting by the time we reached Wilmington where I had lunch in the churchyard by the ancient yew tree whilst others walked on to Jevington after booking a table at the 8 Bells. After my sandwich and walking alone I took a more circuitous ridge path with fine views to Jevington via the village of Folkington.
Most of us met up at Jevington and continued on to Birling Gap with one taking the short SDW route to Eastbourne after the long climb. We reached Birling Gap in good time to catch the 5.20pm bus to Eastbourne but sadly the journey did not work out as planned. Just beyond the car park at the Beachy Head pub there had been an horrendous multi vehicle crash so all traffic including our bus had to turn round and return to Eastbourne via the main road route. Most of us got off the bus and walked to Eastbourne station with one staying on in the hope of catching the 6pm train which she just missed by 6 mins. We all met up to catch the 7pm train to Victoria. A mixed bag of a day, further marred by some walkers witnessing a dog attacking a sheep after the incompetent owners had failed to secure a lead on the animal before entering a field!
I'd like to express the view that a walk that ...
doesn't start walking until after 1130
has lunch as 1415
has most participants on a 1900 train and doesn't get them back to London until 2030
had me on the 1800 but only because I cut out Birling Gap and walked to Eastbourne

... all for just a dozen miles is a walk that would have been better starting earlier.
Wed, 23-Mar-16 8

Midweek Werewolf Walk -- Walk 3:129 Berwick 2 East Dean

Extra Walk 129: Berwick to Birling Gap – East Dean ending – via the Long Man of Wilmington and the former smugglers enclave of Jevington with an optional moonlight extension along the South Downs

Distance: 10 Miles
Difficulty: 5 out of 10
Train: Take the 10:47 Southern service to Ore from London Victoria (11:03 from East Croydon), arriving at Berwick at 12:20 (changing at Lewes arriving at 11:47 and departing at 12:09). To return, you will need to catch one of the frequent number 12 or 12A buses from East Dean to either Seaford (15-20 minutes) or Eastbourne (10 minutes). The buses run in either direction every 10 or 15 minutes – until about 7pm in the Eastbourne direction when they run at 5, 21 and 51 past the hour until 8:51; then 9:21 and 9:46 and 8pm in the Seaford direction after which they stop at East Dean at 8:01; 8:21; 8:41; 9:01; 9:21 and 9:46. Return trains from Eastbourne to Victoria are at 18:31; 18:59; 19:31; 20:31; 21:31; and 22:16. Return trains from Seaford to Victoria (changing at Lewes or Brighton) are at 18:24; 18:59; 19:17; 19:37; 19:57; 20:28; 20:57; 21:28 and 22:20. Buy a day return to Eastbourne. Note: There is no weekday bus service to Birling Gap at this time of year – so unless you plan to push on all the way to Eastbourne – you will need stop in East Dean.
Although a slightly later than ideal start given the restrictions on the Network Rail Card, there should be plenty of time for people to complete this delightful downland walk in daylight. The walk takes a direct route from Berwick to Wilmington for lunch; then, launches up on the South Downs near the Long Man and follows a downland ridge to Jevington, an atmospheric former smugglers enclave. From Jevington, the route again ascends to a downland ridge and follows it to Friston and East Dean with fine views to the sea. For the more adventurous, there should hopefully be an opportunity to extend the walk from East Dean to Beachy Head in the light of the last full moon before the clocks spring forward next weekend. We have had good luck with this in the past on this walk – so fingers crossed for reasonably clear skies…. More information and the walk instructions can be found here.
The recommended lunchtime pub is the Giant’s Rest in Wilmington (tel 01323 870 207), about 3 miles into the walk. Late afternoon refreshments could be had at the Eight Bells in Jevington and post walk libations can be had at the atmospheric Tiger Inn in East Dean.
Many thanks to Arthur Dent for letting Stargazer post this week to cater for an arguably minority interest in moonlight walks…..
Enjoy the walk, beware of the werewolves and don’t forget to bring the silver bullets!
8 on this walk, including one late starter who caught us at lunch, proving that even a 10.47 train is too early for some (actually, to be fair, be had bus problems). The weather was cloudy which was a disappointment after the warm spring sunshine of the day before. But less cold than of late and increasing signs of spring willow catkins, celandines, daffodils at their best.

Lunch at the Giant's Rest was as delightful as ever. We then had the glorious scenery of the downs almost to ourselves. All but one of us stopped for tea at the Three Bells in Jevington (the exception being the late starter, who thought we had carried on).

Most got the bus from Friston, but the late starter completed the glorious triangle from Friston to Flagstaff Point, along to Birling Gap and back to East Dean. Two more of us walked down to Flagstaff Point and back, but had not enough daylight left to do more: a pity as it was just wonderful on the Seven Sisters at dusk utterly quiet, no other walkers whatsoever, and a fabulously low tide (due to the full moon). The remainder of the triangle would have made a wonderful moonlight walk, but it was not to be: for the umpteenth time this winter clouds thwarted us.

The three of us then drowned our sorrows with two bottles of wine (+ dinner) in the Tiger Inn, and ended up rather sleepy on the last train back from Eastbourne.
Sat, 06-Dec-14 16 Berwick to East Dean
Wed, 18-Jun-14 Berwick to Birling Gap
Sat, 14-Dec-13 9 Berwick to East Dean
Sat, 15-Jun-13 22 Berwick to Birling Gap
Wed, 18-Jul-12 Berwick to Birling Gap
Sat, 19-May-12 Berwick to Birling Gap
Sat, 19-Mar-11 Berwick to Birling Gap, via Alfriston - withdrawn
Mon, 30-Aug-10 Berwick to Birling Gap, via Alfriston - withdrawn
Sat, 10-Jul-10 Berwick to Friston