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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Berwick to Birling Gap with SWC

Rough seas at Birling Gap, Sussex

01-Jun-10 • magyardave2002 on Flickr

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Jevington Tea Gardens

Berwick to Birling Gap walk

19-May-12 • 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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On Flagstaff Point

19-May-12 • Saturdaywalker on Flickr

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Berwick to Birling Gap walk

via Wilmington, Jevington and Flagstaff point

History

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
Sat, 16-Jun-18 29

Saturday walk - Berwick to Birling Gap - to coincide with the Jevington Fete

Length: 15.2km (9.4 miles) to 21.3km (13.2 miles)
Toughness: 5 out of 10

9.16 train from Victoria (9.23 Clapham Junction, 9.33 East Croydon) to Lewes, arriving 10.25, changing there for the 10.47 train to Berwick, arriving 10.56.

Buy a day return to Eastbourne, though it is possible to return from Seaford from which a Berwick (Sussex) return would usually be accepted

For walk directions click here. For GPX click here. T=3.129

I am picking this walk in response to a request for something to coincide with the Jevington Village Fete, a village passed 6.1 miles into this walk. Even if you are not interested in that, this is a fine walk for this time of year, starting on the flat, passing through the pretty village of Wilmington, whose churchyard has an extremely ancient yew, and then up past the chalk cut figure of the Long Man of Wilmington. After this you walk over the South Downs to Jevington.

An early lunch is possible at the Giant's Rest in Wilmington, though it has to be said that this favourite SWC pub was under new management last time we visited and disappointed us considerably compared to former days. Whether the Eight Bells in Jevington will be busier than usual due to the fete, I do not know, but presumably the fete itself will have some food options.

After Jevington the walk climbs up onto the downs again and then follows a level route to Friston, 9.4 miles into the walk, from where you can take very regular (every ten minutes or so) number 12 buses to Eastbourne (slightly nearer) or Seaford. If you want a tea stop, it is a very short walk down the hill to East Dean, which has both the Hiker's Rest cafe and the popular Tiger Inn.

Alternatively you can extend the walk down onto the chalk cliffs of the Seven Sisters. Here there are two options, both making walks of 21km (13 miles), ie just under four miles further on from Friston:

- You can walk to Birling Gap, but we are sadly just one week too early for the (in any case very limited) summer bus service, so if you do this you will then need to walk back up to East Dean to get a number 12 bus to Eastbourne or Seaford.

- Or you can turn right along the Seven Sisters (walking over half of them) and end up at Exceat, also getting the number 12 bus to Seaford.

- SEA SWIMMING: We are getting to that time of year when a dip in the sea becomes possible (albeit that the water is still rather chilly), but tides at Birling Gap are a bit awkward today, with low tide at 8pm. These means concealed underwater rocks could make it tricky to swim. Eastbourne (near the pier) or Seaford can be swum at any state of the tide, however, and the east side of Cuckmere Haven (on the Exceat ending) can usually be swum after picking one's way across stones a bit...

Trains back from Eastbourne are at 00 and 25 past until 22.00 (ie trains are now half hourly all evening, whereas before they were hourly after 7pm).

Trains back from Seaford are at 25 and 53 past until 21.53, changing at Lewes (once again, the requirement to change at Brighton on two of the evening trains has now gone and all trains now have Lewes connections).
The early part of this walk was quite overgrown a few weeks ago. You may want to wear long trousers.
29 on this walk: 27 at the start and two late starters who drove to Jevington and then walked with us in the afternoon before walking back to their car. The weather.... Well, there was some dispute about this in the train home. One view was that it was mostly sunny and only cloudy at the end. But that is not what I saw. As far as I am concerned we had some sun at the start and it was then largely cloudy and quite windy: this was definitely the case after Wilmington. In two months’ time I would have said “a bit autumnal”.

Notwithstanding, this was a grand walk. The amazing yew in Wilmington churchyard was as awe inspiring as ever and up on the downs there were hundreds of common spotted orchids (and good flowers in general). The Jevington fete was...nice, but a fairly ordinary village event. A nice tea tent. A big queue for the burgers. “Ferret roulette” (bet on which hole the hapless critter will energe from). Most of us soon went on to the Eight Bells, eschewing the “funny dog show”, whatever that was.

It is the first time (that I remember, at least) that I have eaten at the Eight Bells. Walker friendly. An efficient bar. A good varied menu. But hit and miss dishes. The fish pie won high praise, the swordfish was drowned in a questionable sauce and was soggy from defrosting. My “mushroom tagliatelle” was a thick cream and cheese soup (enough cholesterol to clog a main sewer) with a couple of sliced mushrooms and some pasta swimming in it. I felt queasy all afternoon.

The fete (or perhaps just fate) inevitably split the group up. I presume all walked on to Friston and some to East Dean but only know for definite that five of us went on to the Seven Sisters, then on to Birling Gap and up to East Dean. It was grand to see the sea and the cliffs and think of swims to come, but today was not the day for it. We repaired to the cosy interior of the Tiger Inn instead.
More info about who walked where: three of us walked to Birling Gap and then followed the coast path into Eastbourne, and two of the three caught the 7.25pm train, chips in hand! At least two people were ahead of us and caught the 6.25pm train. One walker went to Birling Gap and then turned the other way, to Exceat, saying she'd get the bus from there. It was a great walk and the wildflowers were a delight, especially the very red poppies, the pink orchids, and the little downland flowers which make a carpet of purple and yellow.
A small clarification: this walker turned right for Exceat at Flagstaff Point not Birling Gap. As views about 8 Bells seem to be mixed it may be worth noting that I was quite happy with an (admittedly undemanding) lunch at the Giant's Rest.
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.
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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 ?
Ta
Anyone going on this walk as I am very interested. Interested in extending walk to Eastbourne via Royal Eastbourne Golf course?

Monica
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.

Monica.
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