Berwick to Seaford walk

The South Downs : Windover and 'High and Over' Hills, and picturesque Alfriston. Can be extended with a chalk cliff coastal walk to Seaford.


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, 14-May-22 Berwick to Seaford - A South Downs classic 14 a perfect sunny day
Sat, 12-Mar-22 Saturday Walk Berwick to Seaford - Alciston, Berwick Church, Alfriston, Cuckmere River, High and Over Hill, Exceat, Seaford Head and on to Seaford 10 sunny breezy
Mon, 31-May-21 Whit Bank Holiday Walk - Berwick to Seaford - Alciston, Berwick Church, Alfriston, High and Over Hill, Exceat, Cuckmere Haven and along the cliff-tops to Seaford 16 hot day in glorious sunshine
Mon, 27-May-19 Bank Holiday Walk - Berwick to Seaford via Alciston, Alfriston, Cuckmere River, High & Over, Exceat and Cuckmere Haven 8 sunny in the morning then colder in the afternoon with wind
Wed, 13-Mar-19 Wednesday walk Berwick to Seaford - Berwick church, Alfriston, High and Over, Exceat and Seaford Head 11 breezy sun and cloud
Mon, 28-May-18 Spring Bank Holiday Walk - Berwick to Seaford via Alciston and Alfriston, or Berwick Circular 14 hot dry and sunny
Wed, 14-Mar-18 Wednesday walk Berwick to Seaford - via Alciston, Berwick Church, Alfriston, High-and-Over and Seaford Head 15 lovely Spring sunshine
Sat, 24-Feb-18 Saturday walk - Berwick to Seaford - Over the South Downs, possibly with a moonlight walk 18 another crisp sunny Saturday
Sat, 17-Jun-17 Newhaven Harbour to Alfriston or Berwick - from the sea to the downs 25 blazing hot sun
Tue, 21-Mar-17 Tuesday Walk: Berwick Church, Alfriston, High & Over, Exceat and on to Seaford 6 lovely sunshine all day
Sat, 11-Feb-17 Saturday Walk -- Berwick Church, High and Over Hill, the Sea and a Full Moon (hopefully) 12 a bleak and cold day with sleety drizzle
Sun, 17-Jul-16 Superb South Downs excursion 12
Sat, 01-Aug-15 Second Saturday Walk 20 sunny
Sat, 15-Mar-14 Berwick to Seaford (alternative route, via Alciston) 29
Sat, 15-Mar-14 Berwick to Exceat (alternative route, via Alciston)
Sun, 13-Oct-13 Berwick to Seaford 0
Sat, 27-Jul-13 Berwick to Seaford 7
Sat, 28-Jul-12 Berwick to Seaford
Sat, 28-Jul-12 Berwick to Exceat
Sat, 22-Oct-11 Seaford to Berwick
Sat, 14-May-11 Berwick to Seaford
Sat, 26-Feb-11 Berwick Circular
Sun, 22-Aug-10 Berwick to Exceat
Sun, 02-May-10 Berwick Circular
Sat, 17-Apr-10 Berwick to Seaford
Sat, 14-May-22
Berwick to Seaford - A South Downs classic
Length: 14km (8.7 miles) to Exceat or 20km (12.4 miles) to Seaford

9.24 train from Victoria (9.31 Clapham Junction, 9.40 East Croydon) to Lewes, changing there (arrive 10.26, depart 10.47) for the train to Berwick, arriving 10.56
Buy a day return to Berwick, which should be accepted for the return from Seaford: if not, you only have to pay extra for the Seaford to Lewes stretch.

For walk directions click here, for GPX click here, for a map of the route click here.
While those on the Scottish trip climb their Munroes, we will ascend the heights of Windover Hill and High and Over Hill on this classic South Downs walk, though actually the only big climb is High & Over in the afternoon, the walk passing quite gently across the flank of Windover Hill (though still with fine views).
In the past I have always recommended lunch at the Giant’s Rest pub in Wilmington 2.8 miles into the walk, but very sadly this fell victim to the pandemic in 2021. So the only choice now is to push on to Alfriston, 5.8 miles into the walk, which has both pubs and tea rooms, the usual favourite being the George Inn with its lovely garden, which serves food all afternoon as far as I am aware.
After lunch it is 2.9 miles more to Exceat, where you can have refreshments at the Cuckmere Inn, and end the walk if you wish (the 8.7 mile version) by getting very regular (every 10-15 minutes) number 12 buses into Seaford. However the walk down to Cuckmere Haven and over Seaford Head is highly recommended - one of the most beautiful 3.7 miles walk in the kingdom (including lovely pink thrift flowers on the cliff top at this time of year).
Seaford has pubs and the Trawlers fish and chip shop - the best in the south east! - but for tea, if you get there in time, your poster’s pick is the tea kiosk just before the Martello Tower, which has tables on the beach and which is popular with locals. T'aint posh but the view is great.
Trains back are at 25 and 53 past, changing at Lewes.T=swc.90
  • 12-May-22

    You'll be sharing the train (and possibly part of the walk) with CLOG Don't get muddled! 🙂

  • 14-May-22

    13 on this walk, but we soon picked up a solo walker who happened to be doing the same route, which made a very creditable 14 . It was a perfect sunny day and if I modestly say so myself (having both posted and created it) this was the perfect walk for it.

    Our Scottish-sojourning friends will be pleased to know they had a huge influence on the walk. Firstly, for the first time in four weeks it was conducted at a pace modest enough not to leave me behind in the first half hour. Secondly, when faced with the first hill climb of the day, Windover Hill, the whole group to a man (or woman) unhesitatingly picked the steeper, higher option, inspired doubtless by all that walk post talk of Munroe-bagging. Five of the group even rushed on when we got to the top of the ridge to scale further heights (…until they realised they had gone the wrong way).

    The rest of the group - prepare to be amazed!!! - actually SAT on the ground to enjoy the tremendous view and eat snacks, a thing I have not experienced on an SWC walk for many a year. Some of us even did this AGAIN on High & Over Hill!! Revolutions have been started by less….

    We got to Alfriston about 1.30 and I expected the pub’s lovely garden to be bursting (maybe even CLOGged with rival walking groups). But actually it was empty and everyone was sat inside. We soon put that to rights, bagging three tables in different places and exasperating the serving staff who seemed to think we would all be on the same one. The food was very nice: I was happy anyway and others seemed to be.

    We left a few people behind in the pub: what happened to them? I thought they would overhaul us at tea, or when we sat on High & Over Hill, but I never saw them again. Otherwise group cohesion was good until just after the summit of High & Over when most people decided to go down the hill by the obvious route rather than the specified one. Two didn’t go up the hill at all but carried on along the river to Exceat.

    Still, I expected to find a big happy group having tea at the Cuckmere Inn, but in fact found only the two river walkers. They were getting the bus from there and I learned another had done likewise so as to be back home in time to watch Eurovision…. Did the rest carry on to Seaford? I did anyway, and had a gorgeous walk. To my surprise the riverside path to Cuckmere Haven was practically deserted - just me and an egret, daintily stepping through the mud (the egret was doing this, not me). Seaford Head was less deserted, but for a while on the walk over it all around me was still, warm and golden, like being in a dream.

    Coming down into Seaford it felt like high summer and I wondered if I had been right not to bring my swimming stuff. One other walker, who had swum on last Sunday’s Goring walk, had earlier expressed an interest in having a dip. Did she do so? I knew that had I done so the water would have been gelid so had only the briefest regrets. (In two weeks time, however….)

    Instead I consoled myself with the kittiwakes (they are back nesting on the cliffs), thrift (full out on the cliff edge but looking a bit drought-stricken in places), and some swifts flying high over the town. Then fish and chips from Trawlers, a half from Steamworks, and the 7.53 train.

  • 14-May-22

    Two who caught the bus to Seaford got Fish & Chips from Trawlers and ate on the beach, not been attacked by seagulls for a change. They missed 6:25pm train, but had to wait for another hour as 6:53pm was cancelled. Whilst waiting, met one walker who was 'left behind' at the pub, then at Lewes saw three more walkers who walked to Seaford. One swam in the sea but said was very cold indeed. They were a party of 5 but two went to catch 6:25pm train. So 6 on 7:25pm train back to London. We can second Walker's sentiment - a very nice walk in perfect weather.

Sat, 12-Mar-22
Saturday Walk Berwick to Seaford - Alciston, Berwick Church, Alfriston, Cuckmere River, High and Over Hill, Exceat, Seaford Head and on to Seaford
SWC 90 - Berwick to Seaford

Length: 18.4 km (11.4 miles). Option to shorten to 7.5 miles
Toughness: 6 out of 10 One steady, long ascent of High and Over Hill: remainder easy going
London Victoria: 09-24 hrs Southern service to Eastbourne CJ 09-31 hrs EC 09-40 hrs
Arrive Lewes: 10-26 hrs Change trains
Leave Lewes: 10-47 hrs Southern service from Brighton to Hastings
Arrive Berwick: 10-56 hrs
Return: Seaford to Victoria, via Lewes: 25 and 53 mins past the hour
Rail ticket: ticket inspectors usually accept either a day return to Berwick (Sussex) or a day return to Seaford. I tend to buy the latter.
Today's walk is arguably one of the best in our entire repertoire of TO Book walks and SWC walks - with a bit of everything for everyone - and one steady climb in the afternoon to keep you honest. Your reward for this effort is a superb, panoramic view over the Cuckmere Valley. I usually try to post this walk early in March every year as the farmers just below Seaford Head tend to release the year's new-born lambs into their fields - and our route today takes us straight through these fields, to enjoy the sight of the little-uns a-frolicking - and quite delightful.
We start today's walk by taking the Alternative Start in the walk directions from Berwick railway station and head along field edges, down through a wood and then over fields towards the pretty village of Alciston, where its church is well worth a visit. Shortly before we reach this village we have to cross the A27 road, which is not easy at a weekend. Please be patient and cross with care. After passing through Alciston we continue over more fields to visit our second church today - Berwick Church - to view the luvvies art and frescos from the Bloomsbury era. Down then up a large field and down a road - and we are in Alfriston where I suggest we stop for lunch. There are three good pubs to chose from: the most popular with SWC tends to be The George Inn. The recently refurbished pub opposite, the Star, is also excellent, and just down the road (and the first of the pubs you come to on entering the village) you find Ye Olde Smugglers Inne. In the village you also find a good village shop and deli for picnickers' provisions and at least one cafe. A popular spot for picnickers to stop for their lunch is the grassy lawns below the church.

After lunch we walk alongside the River Cuckmere through several of its bends and after passing the village of Litlington over to our left we leave the river and start our ascent of High and Over Hill. Take it steadily and turn around from time to time to enjoy the view behind and once at the top we can take a breather, before continuing down the other side of the hill and along grassy ways before dropping down to Exceat. Here you can terminate the walk if you wish by taking a regular bus service into Seaford, but if you can continue the walk, please do so - as it would be shame to miss the new born lambs ! From Exceat we start on the Vanguard Way but soon take a right-turn into the farmland fields to see the lambs. Up then to Seaford Head and through another large field with lambs and we arrive on the clifftop path. To our left we have the classic view of the Seven Sisters. We follow the clifftop path all the way to Seaford, where we drop down to the sea front promenade, which we walk along before entering the town with its refreshment stops. Rapidly becoming a SWC favourite is Steamworks micro pub on Seaford Railway Station.
Walk Directions are here: L=swc.90
  • 13-Mar-22

    9 at the station and 1 late catcher-upperer makes 10 A sunny breezy day, not too bad underfoot. Mr Tiger confounded his critics by keeping up all the way round. Even over the hills.

    Plenty of flowers: daffs, celandine, primrose, violets.

    The path over the A27 was closed off, presumably temporarily, and we had to divert to a junction and follow a quiet road into Alciston. Here we had a quick look in the church , then made our way across the lamb-free fields to the next church, Berwick. This is the one with all the art and stuff. At first it looked closed – extensive restoration work – but we got in round the back and had a good look. There was a baby holding a lamb (so far, the only one we’d seen ). Also, a new artwork by Duncan Grant’s grandson behind the altar. The churchyard was pretty. On to the George where the others filled up on food. I filled up on beer. Some local stuff called Abbot. Here we lost one somehow.

    The day’s biggest challenge was High and Over Hill. A stunning achievement but no medals awarded. A few more ups and downs – still no lambs- and we reached Exceat. From there, we took an inland route through fields, and, guess what. There they were, Lambs, lots of lambs! Skipping around and bleating their little heads off.

    Another hill, a bit of cliff, and finally we were in Seaford.

    We made our way to the Steamworks at the station. This was packed, too crowded for some. They took the next train. Others squeezed their way onto tables. The Old Plough is probably a more reliable choice. A good day out, anyway.

Mon, 31-May-21
Whit Bank Holiday Walk - Berwick to Seaford - Alciston, Berwick Church, Alfriston, High and Over Hill, Exceat, Cuckmere Haven and along the cliff-tops to Seaford
SWC Walk 90 - Berwick to Seaford

Length: main walk using alternative start: 18.3 km (11.4 miles). Options to shorten to 7.5 miles and 4 miles
Toughness: full walk: 7 out of 10. Shorter walks omitting High and Over Hill: 3 out of 10

Note: Different to usual departure railway station (due to engineering works)
London Bridge: 09-25 hrs Southern service to Eastbourne East Croydon: 09-42 hrs
Arrive Lewes: 10-27 hrs Change trains
Leave Lewes: 10-47 hrs Southern service from Brighton to Hastings
Arrive Berwick: 10-56 hrs
Return Seaford to London Bridge changing at Lewes: 25 and 53 mins past the hour
Rail ticket Either a day return to Berwick (Sussex) or a day return to Seaford is usually acceptable. I tend to buy the latter.

Covid-19 Compliance: please note the current guidance on this website and observe social distancing. You should all come prepared to exchange contact details for track and trace purpose. You can either pre-register for this walk (not essential ) by e-mailing me at or, if you prefer, please write your name, e-mail address and contact 'phone number on a small piece of paper for handing to me on the train or when we assemble at walk start. Thank you.
I was unable to post this walk in early March - as in previous years - as we were still in Lockdown, so we missed the new born lambs in the fields below Seaford Head. Never mind - this walk merits an outing at any time of year, as it is arguably one of the best walks in our entire SWC repertoire.
I suggest today we take the alternative start in the Directions to enable us to visit the pretty village of Alciston, with its interesting church, then Berwick Church to admire the 20th century Bloomsbury Murals (for those into luvvies). We then head down and up a vast field before dropping down a road into the village of Alfriston where we stop for lunch. Picnickers usually head for the grassy lawns around the church. The three pubs in the village will all be busy today, being a Bank Holiday, but all have beer gardens for outdoor dining. Those on the shortest 4 mile walk can take a bus to Seaford from the village.
Otherwise, after lunch the walk continues beside the Cuckmere River (the Book 1 side is less muddy) and after passing by the village of Littlington we head up the broad grassy slopes of High and Over Hill, not forgetting to look back over the shoulder to enjoy the magnificent panoramic view. Down the Hill on its other side and we head for Exceat - where there is a regular bus service to Seaford - for those on the 7.5 mile walk. The rest of us have another 3.9 miles still to go - but it is an exhilarating leg and is recommended for those up to walking a little further. We gradually ascend the Vanguard Way to come up above Cuckmere Haven with wonderful views of the Seven Sisters. From here we have an undulating clifftop walk to the outskirts of Seaford, where we drop down to the sea front. Then it's along the promenade and into the town for the refreshment options noted in the Directions.
The provisional weather forecast for Whit Bank Holiday Monday is good - and warmer than of late - so we could be in for a really nice day's walking. Do join me !
Walk Directions are here: L=swc.90
  • 31-May-21

    Better to change polegate

  • 01-Jun-21

    Wrong - Anonymous. The change at Lewes is more leisurely, its facilities are open - and clean - and the station cafe is usually open for drinks and snacks. There is nothing at draughty Polegate station - so always change at Lewes.

  • 01-Jun-21

    16 assembled outside the entrance to Berwick station for today's Bank Holiday walk - on a hot day in glorious sunshine , with barely a cloud in the sky. A gentle breeze on exposed parts of the walk, such as the top of High and Over Hill, helped prevent us from over-heating. Because of the high UV factor today hats were essential and those walkers who dared flash a bit of flesh - and show off their pink knees - sensibly splashed on the sun cream - before we all set off on the alternative start route.

    In the bright sunshine the countryside looked magnificent, green and lush, with the usual suspect Spring flowers fully on display, with buttercups and daisies blanketing some fields, and cow parsley and speedwell adorning paths and field edges. There were even some bluebells "hanging in there" in sheltered places - adding to the colour.

    The A27 road was chocker with vehicles from both directions - but some kind motorists took pity on us and stopped to let us over what can be a very tricky crossing. Thank you to those motorists for their consideration.

    On into Alciston to find its church closed for once, so next stop Berwick Church, where most of us stopped to look at the Bloomsbury murals, always of interest even if not to everyones taste or liking.

    Six of us dined outdoors at the Smugglers pub - two in the sunshine (their choice) and four of us in the shade. Ordering was a bit pedestrian but the service was good and the meals could be described as good, honest pub grub.

    Our sandwichers enjoyed their picnics in the sun or shade beside the lovely grassy surrounds of the church, and I believe they set off about thirty minutes before us six Smugglers started the afternoon leg of our walk, in temperatures which must now have been close to 25 degrees - but tempered by that gentle breeze.

    Paths which are often boggy and tricky were rutted and rock hard, despite May's rainfall, then it was up High and Over hill, where hang gliders put on a fine display for our sandwhichers. The views from the hill-top today were superb and panoramic as we zig-zagged down 'tother side and made for Exceat. From here we opted to take the alternative route up and over farmland to observe this year's lambs - now three to four months old. On connecting up with the cliff path as we approached Seaford some bright white chalk was evidence of recent cliff falls and it was of concern to watch the foolhardy being photographed on the cliff edges.

    Seaford's promenade was busier than I have ever seen it before, with families enjoying the fine weather - a good sight.

    On into the town, we made straight for the railway station, to find its excellent mini-pub open. Here we found three of today's sandwichers imbibing and passing the time to the next train, and us Smugglers had enough time to quench our thirst before joining them on the 17-25 hrs train. Presumably most of the others were on the service thirty minutes before us.

    Travel was good and on time today. And well done Southern for adding additional coaches to our homebound train from Lewes - 12 today, meaning we had plenty of room to spread out on our journey home.

    Maybe it was not too bad a way to spend a Whit Bank Holiday Monday.

  • 01-Jun-21

    Just to add to Marcus' report. Two went swimming at Cuckmere Haven then on to Seaford, where we had a drink at The Shore pub, before boarding the very lively 18.25 train to Lewes. A lovely day out in beautiful countryside, and the white cliffs were dazzling.

Mon, 27-May-19
Bank Holiday Walk - Berwick to Seaford via Alciston, Alfriston, Cuckmere River, High & Over, Exceat and Cuckmere Haven
SWC 90 - Berwick to Seaford

Length: 18.4 km (11.4 miles). Options to shorten and lengthen
Toughness: 6 out of 10 One steady ascent of High & Over Hill: otherwise, 4 out of 10

London Victoria: 09-16 hrs Littlehampton and Eastbourne service; CJ 09-22; EC 09-32 hrs. Train splits at Haywards Heath
Arrive Lewes: 10-23 hrs Change trains
Leave Lewes: 10-47 hrs Hastings service from Brighton
Arrive Berwick: 10-56 hrs

Return: Seaford to London Victoria via Lewes: 25 and 53 mins past the hour

Rail ticket: either a day return to Berwick (Sussex) or Seaford is usually accepted by on-train inspectors

It has become customary for SWC's Wednesday walkers to give this walk an outing every year early in March, when new born lambs are first let loose in the fields. But this walk is a delight at all times of year, for its variety, historic interest, views, a hill to sort you out - plus top drawer water features.

From the Walk Directions you will note there are several options to this walk. But the best one - in my opinion - takes the Alternative start to Alciston then Berwick Church (well worth a visit to see its murals) before you head for Alfriston where you have three pubs and at least one deli for a lunch stop. Being a Bank Holiday, Alfriston and its pubs are likely to be very busy, but if you split up into small groups you should manage to find space somewhere for all wishing to dine. I do not recommend your deferring lunch for 40 mins until you reach Littlington, with its excellent pub, the Plough and Harrow, as almost certainly all tables in the pub will be pre-booked.
After Alfriston you walk beside the Cuckmere River to Littlington before you tackle High & Over Hill. On the way up, as you catch your breath, then once on top, do stop to admire the panoramic views - your reward for the climb. You now head down off the Hill on its 'tother side to arrive at Exceat. Here you can complete your walk by taking the bus (regular service) to Seaford, reducing the length of your overall walk by almost 4 miles. But if you continue with the walk, you now head gradually uphill on the Vanguard Way to Cuckmere Haven, where you have a superb view of the Seven Sisters over to your left. Do remember to glance backwards for this view as you walk along the cliff top on an undulating path all the way to Seaford, taking care to keep well clear of the cliff edge where the chalk has eroded or sheared off in landslips.
The newly refurbished and reopened fish & chip restaurant - Trawlers (an SWC favourite) is usually open on Bank Holidays for those in need of sustenance. Otherwise, there are several pubs and bars in Seaford awaiting your custom before you head for the railway station for your journey home after what I hope has been a rewarding and enjoyable day's walk.
Walk Directions are here: L=swc.90

  • Anonymous

    8 on this lovely semi-coastal walk. sunny in the morning then colder in the afternoon with wind The group met at Berwick and very quickly decided to split in two to go in different directiosn and meet at the lunch stop. One group went to see the chalk figure, and one went to see the church in Alciston (hopefully someone from the former group can say how that went). We all met in Alfriston for lunch; five (church group + 1 from the chalk figure group) picnicked on the church green, which was massive, with lots of space and benches; the rest of the chalk figure group ate at the George Inn, which had a lovely garden. Some had a peak around the village, which is well worth it. There is an abundance of shops for such a small village; it's clearly popular as there seemed to be bus loads of tourists wandering around. The bookshop, Much Ado About Books, was well reviewed by those that went into it; it had 'blind dates with a book', which is clever (pick a book that is wrapped so you don't know what it is!). Do make sure to have a look around the village!

    After lunch, there was a bit of a new mix as the church group + 1 from the chalk figure group carried on together towards Exceat and Seaford. We had a great time meandering around the river, as well as meandering conversions covering all sorts of random things. After climbing the aptly named High and Over Hill, and zigzagging down the steep sides, we arrived at the pub in Exceat, where one took the bus to Seaford. The rest braved the fierce winds atop the cliffs, and arrived in the sleepy town with 20 minutes to spare before the train. This turned out rather well, as there is a fabulously done mini pub/coffee shop on the station platform, where we all purchased refreshments and treats for the train home.

    Thanks for posting a lovely walk!


  • 28-May-19

    Thanks for the walk report, Karen. I did the walk "backwards" starting in Seaford, on a train 30 mins ahead of you: the views heading down "High & Over" Hill were lovely. On reaching Alfriston I called in at the three pubs to see if I could spot any SWC walkers but alas I missed you all. After a good lunch at the Star Inn I headed for Berwick Church, which was busy with tourists admiring the murals. The route from the church to Berwick village was very overgrown in places, with farmers not reinstating paths through fields in crop - with one stretch of 250 metres being close to impassable through shoulder high oil seed rape. As this path came at the beginning of the walk - for those doing the Alternative start to Alciston - I would not have blamed you if you had taken an about turn and returned to the start for a re-think on the route to take. Having fought my way through this field - and just missing my train by 2 minutes - I retired to the Berwick Inn for an excellent cuppa.

  • Anonymous

    Nice to hear that you did the walk! I forgot about the high vegetation at the beginning! It was pretty heavy going but we had a bit of fun going through it.


Wed, 13-Mar-19
Wednesday walk Berwick to Seaford - Berwick church, Alfriston, High and Over, Exceat and Seaford Head
SWC 90 - Berwick to Seaford

Length: 18.4 km (11.4 miles)
Toughness: 6 out of 10 Attributable to the ascent of High and Over Remainder 3 out of 10

London Victoria: 10-16 hrs Eastbourne and Littlehampton service; CJ 10-23 hrs, EC 10-33 hrs
Arrive Lewes: 11-23 hrs Change trains
Leave Lewes: 11-47 hrs Hastings stopping service from Brighton
Arrive Berwick: 11-56 hrs

Return Seaford to Victoria via Lewes: 25 and 55 mins past the hour

Rail ticket: Usually, day return tickets to either Seaford or Berwick (Sussex) are accepted by on-board ticket inspectors.

This is one of my favourite walks in the entire SWC repertoire - and it's particularly enjoyable during early lambing season, when the new born lambs are first let loose outdoors.

The new Southern timetable means a later start than I would have liked, but the walk with the Berwick Church alternative start is still very manageable in daylight, although you will not be back in London today for early evening engagements, such as theatre visits.

Leaving Berwick station we head across fields and through a small section of light woodland to the pretty village of Alciston, with its attractive church (worth a visit). Then it's over vast fields to Berwick Church, which we visit to view the Bloomsbury Group's murals and artwork. Then it's down and up over another vast field then down the road into the village of Alfriston, where we will stop for lunch: I will make a reservation for us at the George Inn.

After lunch we enjoy an amble beside the Cuckmere River to the outskirts of the village of Littlington (the path can be muddy in places) which we by-pass today, because we are climbing up and down High and Over (hill) - worth the effort for its lovely views from on-top. Down now to Exceat bridge (pronounced "Ex-Seat") where you can take an early tea at its pub. Unless you are pooped from your walk so far, please do not be tempted by the frequent bus service to Seaford (or Eastbourne) but instead continue initially along the Vanguard Way until the first gate, We now turn right, off piste from the Walk Directions, and walk gently uphill through farmland fields where hopefully the farmer has let loose his new born lambs - a lovely sight. On then uphill to Seaford Head to re-join the Walk Directions along the classic cliff-top walk to Seaford. Trawlers fish and chip restaurant and several pubs and bars - all close to the railway station - await your custom for tea, before your journey home.
Walk Directions are here: L=swc.90
  • 10-Mar-19

    Just to be clear, you will be doing option a) the Alternative start - starting in paragraph 52 of the walk directions on page 7.

  • 13-Mar-19

    It was windy but not THAT windy. The severe warnings of the weather forecast did not come true. Instead we had a day of breezy sun and cloud , not perhaps as much sun as one might have liked and feeling cold at times in the wind, but a typical March day. There were a few spots of rain but they never amounted to much.

    11 of us assembled at Berwick station. The walk over the fields towards Berwick church was not too muddy and we actually managed to stop the traffic to cross the horrid A27. The Bloomsbury frescoes in Berwick church were worth a look, as ever.

    Lots of signs of spring - leaves starting on bushes, daffodils, celandines uncertain as to whether to open. The wind stifled birdsong, although one or two larks were heard.

    Nine ate at the George, a high proportion for a midweek walk, it was pointed out to me. Were the sandwichers put off by the windy forecast? Portions at this pub are massive: one walker even asked for a doggie bag. Others cleared their plates with ease, however.

    On the wonderful climb over High and Over Hill a big surprise was how flooded the riverside meadows in the valley were. All the way from Alfriston to Cuckmere Haven was like a wetland. I had never seen it like this. The path was unaffected, however: this was a day of minimal mud.

    We passed the Cuckmere Inn without stopping and embarked on our walk poster’s patent lamb excursion, which delivered in spades: a series of fields each packed with the little darlings, frolicking, frisking, collecting charmingly in groups. This was also an interesting variation on the usual Cuckmere route.

    Only on Seaford Head did we finally get some serious wind. Walking into it was quite difficult. Oddly enough it died away once we were on the windward side of the hill, however. After a brief tea in a pub several of us got the 5.55 train, others of the party presumably getting an earlier one. And so back to London after an interesting and scenic day out.

Mon, 28-May-18
Spring Bank Holiday Walk - Berwick to Seaford via Alciston and Alfriston, or Berwick Circular
SWC 90 - Berwick to Seaford

Length: 18.4 km (11.4 miles) Stopping at Exceat: 12.2 km (7.6 miles). Berwick Circular: 13.3 km (8.3 miles).
Other options, extensions, routes available
Toughness: Main walk and to Exceat: 7 out of 10. Circular walk: 5 out of 10

London Victoria: 09-16 hrs Littlehampton and Eastbourne service (splits at Haywards Heath). CJ 09-23, EC 09-33
Arrive Lewes: 10-23 hrs. Change trains, crossing over bridge
Leave Lewes: 10-47 hrs. Hastings service from Brighton
Arrive Berwick: 10-56 hrs

Return: Berwick to Victoria, changing at Lewes or Brighton (not much in it): 52 mins past the hour
Seaford to Victoria, changing at Lewes: 25 and 53 mins past the hour

Rail ticket: if doing the Berwick Circular, it's obvious. If going to Seaford, your best option is a day return to Seaford, and sweet talk the ticket inspector on the leg Lewes to Berwick. Either that or buy a Berwick return and deploy your sweet talking skills at Seaford

The early(ish) start is due to the new timetable being "unfriendly" today - sorry, not much I can do about that.
The version of the walk which I suggest you take today - with the alternative start from Berwick, and taking in the churches in Alciston and Alfriston - was walked by mid-week SWC walkers on 14 March of this year, and when including the route "High and Over" in the afternoon, many of them agreed with me - that this walk is one of the very best in the entire SWC repertoire. Lots of variety, hills to keep a walker honest, proper water features, and not too long. So do give it a go - on this Whit Bank Holiday. The mid-weekers had the bonus of seeing this year's new born lambs in the fields below Seaford Head. Said lambs will be approaching full growth now, but the bonus for you will be the muddy, slippery paths which mid-weekers had to negotiate should be drying out by now and should be much firmer under foot.
Today you can mix and match the routes and options and do your own thing to your heart's content. Your choice just might be dictated by the weather. If it is horribly hot, the Book 1 route on the Glynde to Seaford walk offers a lot more shade in the afternoon. If you want to add to your sun tan, the route with stunning views up and over "High and Over Hill" should do the trick for you. If storms are a-threatening, again the Book 1 route might be safer.
You choose.
Lunch: The three walker friendly pubs in Alfriston are all likely to be very busy. If there are a number of would-be diners, best you spread out over all three. In addition to the pubs there is at least one cafe and a tea room and a very good deli for picnic provisions. Or you could continue the morning walk to Litlington, where there is another good pub.
If you don't want to climb a big hill in the afternoon, or go through woodland, then up two steep flights of steps, the relaxed route to Exceat is to stay beside the Cuckmere River and just meander with it to Exceat. There you can conclude your walk, by taking the bus to Seaford (a regular service). If you continue with the walk, your final leg, after a stretch steadily uphill on the Vanguard Way to Cuckmere Haven, is a delightful, undulating, cliff-top walk all the way to Seaford, with lovely views behind you of the Seven Sisters.
Tea: pubs, cafes, bars - and Trawlers Fish and chip restaurant await your custom at walk-end. Those on the Berwick Circular (I haven't mentioned much about this pleasant option) there is a pub close to the station for a walk-end tincture.
For those who like shade in the afternoon, you will need to refer to the Book 1 walk, Glynde to Seaford here
Otherwise, the Directions for the main and circular walks are here

  • Johnny Hastings

    I will be coming up from Hastings probably doing the Berwick circular. Regarding the weather there have been no storms here so far. I think the BBC percentages regarding precipitation are a bit misleading.

  • Anonymous

    14 walkers and a relaxed pace on this hot dry and sunny day. 6 opted for the full walk to Seaford and enjoyed stunning views of the seven sisters reflected in a pale blue sea. The remaining 8 did the Berwick circular. A very enjoyable day out.

  • Sandy

    Belated report from one of the circular walkers: some had lunch in Wilmington and left the pub in 2s and 3s; I got separated from them at Wilmington Hill and caught up on the main group at Alfriston. Sorry I didn't wait for you - I got the impression everyone was pressing on to Seaford. However at least I caught the 1552 train, for which I was grateful considering how tiresome the journey home was.

    Amazing yew tree at Wilmington btw - older than the church which casts an interesting light on the discussion we sometimes have about yew trees in churchyards.

Wed, 14-Mar-18
Wednesday walk Berwick to Seaford - via Alciston, Berwick Church, Alfriston, High-and-Over and Seaford Head
SWC 90 - Berwick to Seaford

Length: 18.4 km (11.4 miles)
Toughness: 7 out of 10

London Victoria: 09-47 hrs Littlehampton and Ore service. CJ 09-53 hrs; EC 10-03 hrs
Arrive Lewes: 10-47 hrs Change trains
Leave Lewes: 11-09 hrs Ore service from Brighton
Arrive Berwick: 11-20 hrs

Return: Seaford to London Victoria via Lewes [or via Brighton (B) where noted]: 16-25, 16-54, 17-20, 17-57, 18-24, 18-41(B), 18-59, 19-17, 19-37(B)

Rail ticket: buy a day return to Seaford.

Younger walkers without Senior railcards: Suggest you travel to East Croydon and use your railcards there which come into play after 10 am.

Walker has kindly given his approval to my posting this lovely walk of his within three weeks of his giving it a Saturday outing. Wednesday walkers will be taking a different route to Saturday walkers, and we will divert from the Vanguard Way before Cuckmere Haven to walk through farmland which - hopefully - will be full of newborn lambs - a lovely sign that Spring is on its way. Just don't mention mint sauce........

Leaving Berwick we will take the Alternative Start in the Walk Directions to Alciston, with its interesting church, then on over fields to Berwick Church, to view the murals and artwork of the Bloomsbury Group's luvvies. Onwards then down and up vast fields to Alfriston, where we will stop for luncheon at one of its three pubs. I will probably make a booking for us at the comfortable George Inn.

After lunch I suggest we follow the Book One route (Glynde to Seaford) beside the Cuckmere river to the outskirts of the village of Littlington, then cross the footbridge to continue beside the river (on its 'tother side) until we reach the base of High and Over Hill - which we duly climb, high and over, then zig zag down to the river and follow it to Exceat Bridge. Here you can cut the walk short by taking a bus to Seaford, or in the other direction to Eastbourne.

From Exceat Bridge we walk along the Vanguard Way for a few hundred metres before turning right (westwards) gently uphill through farmland where - hopefully - we will see this year's new born lambs out in the fields with their mothers. Onwards then and uphill to Seaford Head car park, across another large field (more lambs) to the cliff edge where we turn right (again westwards) for a lovely clifftop walk to Seaford. Along the way don't forget to look back behind you for a fabulous view of the Seven Sisters. On arriving in Seaford those peckish can indulge in fish and chips at Trawlers - a favourite with SWC walkers. Otherwise, there are several wine bars and pubs close to the railway station for refreshments before you take the train home.

This is one of my favourite SWC walks which I find particularly enjoyable in lambing season.
So recommended !
Walk Directions here: L=swc.90

  • Anonymous

    Hello Marcus I hope to attend this walk but will probably have to exit early in order to go dancing.



  • 14-Mar-18

    15 of us assembled at Lewes railway station for the short journey to Berwick, where we started today's walk in lovely Spring sunshine , which stayed with us all day. The Spring-like temperature was tempered by a southerly wind in our face, which meant clothing layers were kept on, but no matter. Mud levels were mostly manageable all day, and to be expected on a mid-March walk.

    Some of us stopped to look inside Alciston church - plain but nice. Most of us stopped shortly afterwards to view the art and murals in Berwick Church. Its churchyard was awash with daffodils and some snowdrops to add to the enjoyment of our morning.

    Onwards then to Alfriston, where seven of us dined at the George Inn. All were happy with their meals, although our table was too close to the open hearth fire for comfort (a fire was not needed for the mild Spring weather) - but I'm being picky. Now usually our sandwichers join us for a drink in the designated lunch pub, but not today. Or rather, only two did. Two sandwichers headed off to practise their map reading skills, but I'm not sure what happened to the remaining six. Hopefully they - and the map readers ? - did not become lost in the wilds of the South Downs: but if someone out there does find them lost, bedraggled and disheveled, please point them in the correct direction for Seaford. Bless.....

    Our dancer left us at Alfriston for an early journey back to London, as planned, leaving eight of us to tackle the afternoon leg of the walk. We enjoyed the lovely views from the windy top of High and Over Hill, before descending to Exceat Bridge, where one took the bus to Seaford. Subject to my dodgy maths, that left seven of us to enjoy the lambs in the fields below Seaford Head: they put on a great display for us - a delightful Spring sight. On then into Seaford, where I believe all bar me took the 17-20 hrs train home. I stopped for a drink and tidy up before catching the 17-57 hrs train. Good journeys, outward and inward, today, and I was home in time to watch the Barcelona-v-Chelsea match on TV.

    I thoroughly enjoyed my day in good SWC company, and I hope my walking companions, including the sandwichers, did likewise.

  • Brian

    A splendid walk, as Marcus says, and in excellent company. Four of us sandwichers, having dined by St Andrew's church in Alfriston, made our way, guided by Robin, along the Cuckmere river and up High and Over (where we were rewarded by wonderful, far-reaching views.) A stiff breeze checked our descent to Exceat but then blew behind us all away along the clifftop path to Seaford, where we were reunited with our dancer and caught a train to Lewes.

Sat, 24-Feb-18
Saturday walk - Berwick to Seaford - Over the South Downs, possibly with a moonlight walk
Length: 14km (8.7 miles) to Exceat, 20km (12.4 miles) to Seaford

Longer option: Over the Seven Sisters to East Dean: 21.4km (13.3 miles)

Catch the 9.46 train from Victoria (9.53 Clapham Junction, 10.03 East Croydon) to Lewes, changing there for the 11.09 to Berwick, arriving 11.20.

Buy a day return to Berwick (Sussex): this is usually accepted for return from Seaford. If you definitely plan to do the longer option, a day return to Eastbourne might be useful.

For walk directions click here. For GPX click here.

This is a grand walk over the South Downs, taking in the Long Man of Wilmington chalk figure and scenic High and Over Hill, with an optional extra finish over Seaford Head with magnificent backward views of the Seven Sisters.

Much of the walk is on chalk downland, which should be rather less muddy than the lowlands (though this does not apply to the first 2.8 miles of the walk and I am not saying it will NOT be muddy, just that it is LESS muddy....)

This is also (almost **) the last chance this winter for a moonlight walk (once the clocks go forward, it gets dark too late): this is obviously weather-dependent, but for more details see below.

There are lots of nice refreshment options on this walk. I find it hard to pass by the wonderful Giant's Rest in Wilmington, a lovely pub with magnificent food. But it is quite early in the walk (after 2.8 miles) and so you may care to carry on another 2.6 miles to Alfriston, which has both pubs and tea rooms. On the other hand, if you lunch in Wilmington, you can have tea in Alfriston....

The next staging post is the Cuckmere Inn in Exceat. Vegans might like to note it has a new menu, with a choice of vegan mains and puddings. You can end the walk here by taking very regular number 12 buses into Seaford, or carry on for another 3.7 miles over Seaford Head to Seaford. The Trawlers fish and chip shop here is recommended. The pub by the church is also nice.

Trains back from Seaford are at 25 past till 19.25, then 20.28, 21.28, 22.20. There are also trains at 57 past until 20.57 but note that due to reduced Southern services today these do not offer connections at Lewes to London. You have to change at Brighton instead (your ticket will be valid) and once you have done this you only get to London a few minutes before the next 25/28 past train.

The longer option - for which there are now full directions in the walk document/GPX (see paragraph 116 on page 10) - is to carry on over the Seven Sisters to East Dean. This is not much longer (21.4km/13.3 miles versus 20km/12.4km to Seaford) but a lot more strenuous. Very regular number 12 buses go from East Dean to both Seaford and Eastbourne, but to Eastbourne is quicker. Trains back from Eastbourne are hourly only today - at 35 past the hour until 21.35 and then 22.18.

The moonlight option - if skies are clear, those interested could delay their departure from the Cuckmere Inn until dusk (about 6pm) and then do the remaining section of the walk over Seaford Head in the moonlight. It is a bit more than a half moon today - so not the brightest, but bright enough to see by if the skies are clear. If I have my calculations correct it should be high in the southern sky, fairly near its zenith in fact, and so shining over the sea as we walk over Seaford Head. Cross fingers....

** Saturday 3 March will be one day after the full moon, when it will not rise at 7.39pm. But we may be able to think of a moonlight option to accommodate that.


  • 24-Feb-18

    18 on this walk on another crisp sunny Saturday . Oh, the lovely blue of the sky! OK, a chilly breeze too but sometimes we were out of it and it even felt a teeny bit springlike. Some daffodils and even a patch of violets thought so too: let’s hope next week’s weather is not too much of a shock to them.

    As usual on this walk Wilmington was where the group split. Many went on to Alfriston: seven of us headed to that old favourite, the Giant’s Rest. This, alas, turned out to be under new management. Alas, because the menu is less interesting than before (goodbye, African stew, my old friend) and even though we were practically the only diners when we arrived, the food still took nearly an hour to emerge from the kitchen - three grilled plaice, a liver and bacon, a veg curry and a bean chilli: the last two surely microwaved, the rest quick cook items. My veg curry was tasty but they could have counted the grains of rice individually (perhaps that is what took the time): the plaice was apparently unexciting.

    On into the sunshine. A glorious climb over the shoulder of the downs, not as windy as I feared, the views thrillingly sharp. We bypassed Alfriston and cracked on along the river: the mud was fairly dry here: I think evaporation/dry winds are getting to work. Over High and Over Hill: grand views, though the wind stopped one from lingering too long over them.

    At the Cuckmere Inn there was the usual faintly ungracious service but at least they now have vegan puddings (when prompted). One got a bus from here to get to London for an evening event, two cracked on to Seaford in the declining sunlight and four of us waited an hour and a half for it to get dark. We set off in the gloaming at 6pm, glad for the light of the afterglow on the sometimes slippery mud along the river. But by the time we got to Cuckmere Haven we were in proper moonlight: a pale, high half moon, enough to cast a shadow, not quite enough to illuminate the white cliffs. A nice easy walk from there over Seaford Head, my younger companions (and one older one) torturing me by pointing out stars and lighthouses my feeble eyes could not see. A glorious panorama of the lights of Seaford and Newhaven as we came over the top. Then fish and chips from the Trawlers which we ate on the 8.25pm train.

Sat, 17-Jun-17
Newhaven Harbour to Alfriston or Berwick - from the sea to the downs
SWC walk 90d (with a twist) - Newhaven Harbour to Alfriston or Berwick
Length: 15.3km (9.5 miles) or 20.6km (12.8 miles)
Toughness: 5 out of 10: basically level but with two big hill climbs

9.47 train from Victoria (9.53 Clapham Junction, 10.03 East Croydon) to Lewes, arriving 10.47, changing there for the 10.57 (Seaford-bound) train to Newhaven Harbour (not Newhaven Town!!) arriving 11.08.

Buy a day return to Newhaven Harbour, unless you plan to take the bus from Alfriston to Seaford (see below) in which case a day return to Seaford (Sussex) is in order.

** Please note that if the forecast for the weekend is good, Victoria is likely to be very busy with people going to Brighton or Eastbourne: get there early to buy your ticket, or better still buy it the day before (which you can do from Southern ticket machines, as far as I can remember)

For walk directions click here: you only need pages 1-4 (for the tea stop info etc) and 12-14 (for the walk directions).

I am aware this walk post may look like a bit of a mouthful, but it is actually a simple and easy walk with no great route finding challenges.

This is the popular Berwick to Seaford walk, but done backwards - an option that has only ever had one outing way back in 2011, even though full directions for it exist. In this direction you start by the sea, and then head inland to the downs and the excellent tea options in Alfriston.

As an extra twist I thought we might go off piste a little and start from Newhaven Harbour station. There are several reasons for this: 1) to avoid our Spanish dopelgangers 'Senderismo en Londres' who will be on the same train but starting at Seaford, 2) to give the train crew a heart attack - no one ever gets off at Newhaven Harbour, and 3) because it adds a very pretty section to the walk.

So, you get off at Newhaven Harbour, the second Newhaven station (Newhaven Town is the first). Coming out of the station turn right to pick up the path along the left-hand side of Mill Creek (the former course of the River Ouse, cut off when Newhaven Harbour was built). Follow this out across the marshes, past the site of the former Tide Mills (with the old Bishopstone station platforms to your left) and on to Seaford. This route is very clear and easy to follow.

It is 1.5 miles to the outskirts of Seaford. Once there you follow the seafront promenade eastwards for another mile. If the day is fine and the sea not choppy, you may want to have a brief sea swim here: it is a gently shelving shingle beach. The water is about 15 degrees at present - chilly but not ridiculously so. An early lunch in Seaford is not impossible: the beachfront cafe just beyond the Martello Tower is a nice spot.

At the Martello Tower, pick up the walk directions at paragraph 139 (page 12). It is 3.5 miles from here over lovely Seaford Head and down to Cuckmere Haven (where the tide will alas not be high enough for swimming till 2pm or so) and on inland to the Cuckmere Inn, the later lunch stop (6.2 miles into the walk). It is a busy pub but they do food all afternoon and arriving a bit later than normal lunch time might even be an advantage.

From the Cuckmere Inn it is a 3.3 mile walk inland up over magnificent High & Over Hill (you have to do something to earn that cream cake) to Alfriston, which has nice tea rooms if you can get to them in time. (Otherwise the George Inn has a nice garden).

You can finish the walk in Alfriston (making a walk of 15.3km/9.5 miles) by taking the Cuckmere Valley Ramblerbus (route 47) from the main square to Seaford. This runs at 30 past the hour until 17.30. Once in Seaford you could even pop down to the beach for a second swim or go to our favourite fish and chip shop, The Trawlers, by the station.

Trains from Seaford go at 25 and 57 past until 19.57, then 20.28, 20.57, 21.28, 22.20, changing in Lewes for London except on the 20.57 when you have to go via Brighton.

Or you can walk on from Alfriston to Berwick - 3.2 miles, the 20.6km/12.8 mile version of the walk - passing the lovely Cricketers Pub on the way (which has a nice garden for having dinner in). The Berwick Arms by Berwick station is also quite nice and you can sit in its garden with your pint and wait for the train since you have time to cross the road to the platform once the level crossing barriers come down.

Trains back from Berwick are at 17 past, getting to Lewes at 28 past. Despite what the online timetable says it is no slower and much pleasanter to change here and wait for the 54 past trains to London than to go into Brighton and change onto crowded trains full of day trippers.

A day return to Newhaven Harbour will probably be accepted from Berwick, but if not, you will only need to add a single from Berwick to Lewes where the two lines join.

  • 14-Jun-17

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • 14-Jun-17

    You might consider extending your walk to Saltdean today for the chance to swim in the lido.

    Details and tickets can be found here

  • 18-Jun-17

    25 on this walk. Once we had disentangled ourselves from the somewhat changed layout at Newhaven Harbour station, we had a nice walk along the creek (the old course of the River Ouse) and out past the site of the former Tide Mills to the beach and Seaford. There the blazing hot sun and blue sea was just too much for eight of us, who went for a swim: the water being less gelid than expected, its upper layer warmed by the sun. I think we all stayed in longer than we thought we would.

    All but one of the non-swimmers had gone on ahead - I hope they file their own report. For the swimmers there was a strong temptation just to stay on the beach in the sun, but we carried on, via a brief pause to look at the kittiwake colony on the cliffs (one of the only ones/the only one in the south east?), and on over Seaford Head, where we hooked up with two non-swimmers. It was by now 1.30pm but we figured arriving at the Cuckmere Inn after the lunchtime rush might be no bad thing.

    It was after 2pm when we got to Cuckmere Haven and the tide was getting high enough to allow swimming there, and two of us succumbed, crossing to the east side of the beach. What to say about this swim except that it may well be the highlight of my summer? A mix of very warm and rather chilly water - it changed from place to place - and wonderful scenery. We swam quite far out.

    We met the tail end of the lunchers at the pub, several of whom (it was too hot to count!) were planning to go back to Cuckmere Haven and Seaford for more swims. So my companion and I walked on alone to Alfriston and across the fields to Berwick station via a stop at the Cricketers Inn (our first shade of the day) and a "waiting for the level crossing barriers to come down" drink at the Berwick Inn.

    I hope some of the non-swimmers got this far too and that they had a nice tea in Alfriston.

  • 18-Jun-17

    As Walker mentions, 25 on this walk with an occasional welcome breeze. I went a little "off map" at Cuckmere to the Saltmarsh farm restaurant at Exeat. Despite there being several tables free, they said they were very busy, so I took the hint and pressed on.

    Yearning for some shade I took a northerly path through Friston forest which swung clockwise joining the South Downs way at Westdean. Here the Long House was having an open day to raise funds for the local church. Splendid gardens with locally baked light lunch refreshments.

    Continuing on the South Downs Way to Littlington (initially with more shade) I bumped into a several Walkers raising money for the Royal Marsden by doing a 40Km walk from Lewes to Beachy Head - impressive even by TG standards!

    For details of this event Click Here

    (If you're moved to donate here is one of the Walkers)

    Seven of us hooked up at Alfriston where there was tea and cake to be had at the Village War Memorial Hall and quality ice cream at "The Old Bank"

    All succumbed to the temptation of the Number 47 bus at 4:30 which whisked us back to Seaford in time to catch the 5:07 to Lewes and then the "big" train back to the Great Wen.

    A great day out on a classic English Summer Day

Tue, 21-Mar-17
Tuesday Walk: Berwick Church, Alfriston, High & Over, Exceat and on to Seaford
SWC 90 - Berwick to Seaford via Exceat

Length: 18.3 km (11.4 miles)
Toughness: 6 out of 10 (one steep, steady ascent, otherwise 3 out of 10)

Posting subject to Southern Rail strike action or disruption

London Victoria: 09-47 hrs Ore train CJ 09-53, EC 10-03
Arrive Lewes: 10-47 hrs
Leave Lewes: 11-09 hrs Ore stopping service from Brighton
Arrive Berwick: 11-20 hrs

Return: Seaford to Victoria via Lewes: 16-25, 16-54, 17-20, 17-57, 18-24, 18-59, 19-17 - and 18-41 and 19-37 to Victoria via Brighton

Rail ticket: buy a day return to Seaford

Unfortunately, train times today do not lend themselves to a post 10 am start from London. Our younger walkers should get to East Croydon by whatever means suits them where their travel cards come into play for connecting with the train from Victoria at 10-03 hrs.

Part of me is reluctant to post a walk which is dependent on Southern trains, but this is the best time of year to post this walk, as you should find flocks of new born lambs a-frolicking in the fields as you approach Seaford Head in the afternoon - a lovely Spring sight - so maybe it's worth taking a chance with travel plans.

Saturday walkers gave this walk a spin on 11 February, and likewise today we will do the alternative start from Berwick Station to Berwick Church, which I suggest we visit to view its famous murals and art. We then head down then up over some vast fields before we walk down the road into Alfriston, where we have a choice of three pubs plus cafes and convenience stores. The most popular pub with SWC walkers is the George Inn - tel: 01323-870319, our e.t.a 1 pm: we will try to pre-book a table.

After lunch, I suggest we walk beside the River Cuckmere along the Book 1 Glynde to Seaford route and cross over the river at Litlington before climbing High & Over Hill - with fabulous views from its top. After a short ridge walk we zig-zag down over access land to the river and follow it to Exceat. Instead of taking the Vanguard Way up to Cuckmere Haven, we will take the path gently uphill west over farmland to observe the new-born lambs in the fields. A short steep(ish) climb up the road to Seaford Head follows, then its across a large, flat field to connect up with the classic cliff-top walk into Seaford, stopping occasionally to enjoy the glorious view behind us of the eight Severn Sisters.

Tea, or fish and chips at Trawlers (another SWC favourite) awaits us in Seaford, before we catch the train home.

SWC walks do not get much better than this one - so let's hope Southern Rail are kind to us today.

Walk directions here: L=swc.90

Next Week, Thursday 30 March: Book 1, Walk 11 - Tring to Wendover

  • Anonymous

    Hope to attend . Day for jumpers and rainwear from the sounds of things jfk

  • 22-Mar-17

    6 of us on today's walk, in lovely sunshine all day . The weather was much better than forecasted, as so often happens (no rain), being mild to warm, although the strong breeze on the hill tops stopped us removing layers of clothing.

    This version of SWC Walk 90 is one of the best walks in the SWC repertoire, with variety, sights, stunning views, a sensible length - and mandatory water features. Add in the lambs in the fields either side of Seaford Head, good chatter along the way, a good lunch at the George, and on time trains (thank you, Southern) and we had a near perfect day.

  • 22-Mar-17

    Thanks for a lovely day Marcus. Really enjoyed it.

Sat, 11-Feb-17
Saturday Walk -- Berwick Church, High and Over Hill, the Sea and a Full Moon (hopefully)
SWC Walk 90: Berwick to Seaford via Berwick Church with Optional Moonlit Ending at Birling Gap/East Dean
Distance: 11.4 Miles or 18.4 km for those more metrically minded

Difficulty: 6 out of 10

Train: Take the 9:47 AM Ore and Littlehampton train from London Victoria (stopping at Clapham Junction at 9:53 and East Croydon at 10:03), arriving at Berwick at 11:20 (with a change at Lewes, arriving 10:47; departing 11:09). Return trains from Seaford are at 25 and 57 past the hour until 19:57; then 20:28; 20:57 and 21:28. For those doing the Birling Gap/East Dean ending, you will need to take a bus to Eastbourne from East Dean (best options are at 8:54pm; 9:24pm or 9:54pm). Return trains from Eastbourne are at 19:55; 20:35; 21:35 or 22:18. Buy a day return to Seaford or Eastbourne, if planning on doing the alternate ending.
Fingers crossed that Southern operates as advertised AND that the conditions are good for viewing the full moon. For a slightly different twist on this old favorite, we will take the alternate start route via Berwick Church – well worth a visit having been decorated by members of the infamous Bloomsbury Group. The route then heads to charming Alfriston for lunch. After lunch, we tackle High and Over Hill with commanding views out towards Cuckmere Haven and the sea beyond. Upon arriving at the Cuckmere Inn (formerly known as the Golden Galleon), choices abound. After considering these options over your beverage of choice, you can either (i) continue with the walk over Seaford Head and into Seaford; (ii) if conditions merit, when the lighting is sufficiently low, head East over the Seven Sisters towards Birling Gap to enjoy a moonlit walk along the Downs (note there are a couple of places where you could turn up towards East Dean on this route to adjust the length as desired) or (iii) shorten the walk by catching one of the frequent Bus 12s that stop in front of the Cuckmere Inn (you may even be able to position yourself in the pub to see the buses as they come around the corner into Cuckmere Haven). You can find more information about the walk and download the walk instructions here.

The recommended lunch spot is the George Inn (01323 870 319) in Alfriston (4 miles/6.5 km into the walk). Tea and other late afternoon refreshments can be had at the Cuckmere Inn in Exceat (7.6 miles/12.2 km into the walk). Additionally, the Tiger Inn in East Dean is a pleasant watering hole and various pubs are available in both Seaford and Eastbourne.

Enjoy the walk (and watch out for the werewolves)!

  • 12-Feb-17

    12 on this walk and for all that it was a bleak and cold day with sleety drizzle the pleasure of companionship kept us warm.

    After a morning trudging over fields and briefly visiting Berwick church and its frescos (plus nice snowdrops), we had a very cosy lunch at The George in Alfriston, even if the delicious food did issue rather slowly from the kitchen. The walk along the river after lunch was slippery but even mist and drizzle could not eclipse the magnificence of the climb over High and Over Hill, which one of our transatlantic walkers rightly described as "the best of England".

    At the Cuckmere Inn in Exceat we fragmented. Two at least walked onto Seaford, one took the bus, one set off for Birling Gap and six of us, after tea and puddings, also set off at 4.30pm to walk the Seven Sisters and then up to East Dean. Distance-wise this is no longer than the Seaford ending, though it is of course more uppy and downy. I may incorporate it as an official alternative ending for the walk.

    We managed five of the Sisters in the fading dusk light, then did the last three and the walk to East Dean in the dark (and yes, there are EIGHT Seven Sisters: count 'em). After a drink in the Tiger Inn we went on to Eastbourne where we discovered a lovely friendly Thai restaurant in the former freight shed next to the station, finally catching the 9.35 train home.

Sun, 17-Jul-16
Superb South Downs excursion
Download walk 90 - Berwick to Seaford
Length 21.1km (13.1m); toughness 7/10 or short version 14.9km; 9.3m
London Victoria 09.07 – Brighton 10.06; then 10.12 Brighton (Platform 7) to Berwick 10.34
Return trains from Seaford at xx:27 and xx:57, changing at Lewes or Brighton for connecting trains back to London. (You can also catch a bus from just outside Seaford station to Brighton.)
A day return for Berwick should be ok for Seaford to Lewes
An early start for this superb downland walk offering climbs up two beautiful hills with panoramic views.

See the walk’s pages here for details about shortening the walk (catch a bus at Exceat) and the various pub lunch opportunities. Click on download walk pdf at top of the page for full walk instructions
  • Anonymous

    Would a day return form Brighton be okay for this walk?

  • Anonymous

    Thisweekswednesday walk seems to be missing from the page

  • 12-Jul-16

    As far as I understand the intricacies of the ticketing system a day return to Brighton from London would not suffice for this walk. Perhaps one of our resident train experts could confirm?

  • 13-Jul-16

    No, a day return to Berwick is needed. This should be accepted for return from Seaford. The only other ticket one might try us a return to Seaford. I would say the distance from the point the lines divide (Lewes) is about the same. In any case Southern tend to be relaxed about such things and given their current operating record they have no right to be picky.

  • Anonymous

    Hi. Is there a walk this coming Wednesday evening? Thanks.

  • Anonymous

    I meant to write Wednesday day walk earlier, not evening. Thank you.

  • 18-Jul-16

    12 on this walk on a glorious day for walking with the weather w= fine-dry-and-humid-with-a-cooling-breeze.

    Most of the meet-up groups in London seemed to beheading for the South Downs and even at Berwick station there was another large group but we got away quickly initially enjoying the lowland paths although we had to do a detour at one point as a water company had dug a deep trench stopping access through a hedge. Still we ambled on stopping to admire the ancient yew tree at Wilmington before climbing up onto the Downs. We all took the easy route up although 1 member suggested the "haute route" (hon mention to Pia)

    Sadly we split up at lunch because of the incredible slowness of the George pub- the sheer incompetence of some pubs serving food beggars belief! So the 6 sandwichers went ahead enjoying the wonderful scenery and enjoying a rest and drink at the incredibly busy Cuckmere Inn.

    Finally the last superb leg along the cliffs at Seaford where one walker took snaps of

    the cottage and beach which feature in the final heartbreaking scenes of the film Atonement and the classic "backward view" of the 7 sisters. At Seaford two had a quick dip in the sea, others bought teas and snacks at the beach-side cafe and we all caught the 17.27 train to Brighton to pick up a fast connecting - and over air conditioned train back to London. A superb days walking with the Downs looking splendid plus the usual range of anarchic chat. I hope the pub lunchers had no problems with navigation and enjoyed their day.

Sat, 01-Aug-15
Second Saturday Walk
Extra Walk 90: Berwick to Seaford (or Exceat) -- Two beautiful downland hills on approach to the sea

Distance: 13.1 Miles (or 9.2 Miles to Exceat)
Difficulty: 7 out of 10
Train: Take the 9:46 Littlehampton/Ore train from London Victoria (10:02 from East Croyden), arriving at Berwick at 11:20 (changing at Lewes arriving at 10:50 and departing at 11:09). Return trains from Seaford to Victoria are at 25 (becoming 28 at 20:28) and 58 past the hour until 21:28. If stopping at Exceat, you will need to catch one of the frequent buses from near the Cuckmere Inn (formerly known as the Golden Galleon) for a short journey to Seaford. Buy a day return to Berwick (Sussex).
Given the uncertain summer conditions at this time, this walk seemed to offer a good combination of a picturesque downland walk, some nice hills and a chance for a refreshing swim in the late afternoon/early evening if the conditions merit. While this walk covers some similar territory as others starting in Berwick, after lunch, it diverges to take in the pretty village of Alfriston and ventures up onto High and Over Hill with lovely views out to the sea. The route to Seaford brings you past Cuckmere Haven, always a delightful place for a swim – though the tide will be getting fairly low in the late afternoon – but should still be swimmable. Swimming is also possible in Seaford. The walk instructions may be found on the website at Extra Walk 90 and here.
For those doing the whole walk, one of the many pubs in Alfriston would be the recommended lunch stop, about six miles into the walk -- The George Inn (01323 870 319) is a regular favorite. For those only going to Exceat, another option is the popular Giant’s Rest in Wilmington (tel 01323 870 207), about 3 miles into the walk. Tea and drinks can be had at the Cuckmere Inn in Exceat (roughly 9 miles into the walk). For those going all the way to Seaford, Trawlers is a good fish and chip stop.

Enjoy the walk!
  • 02-Aug-15

    20 sunny

    A pleasant and peaceful day. Two stayed for a drink at the Giant's Rest but most ate at the George Inn in Alfriston. Alfriston has one or two new tea places since I last went there including a heritage building near the church. Everyone seemed happy with the pub. The group wandered around as is our wont, and as far as I know only two had tea at Exceat with about nine pressing on to Cuckmere beach only to find it unswimmable due to rocks and low tide. After a lovely evening walk over the cliffs, nine swam at Seaford and five were left at the Trawler fish and chip shop which served a delicious grilled fish with Florida herbs apparently. Two had neither fish and chips nor swam but watched the others eating fish and chips. Some brief maths will elucidate how many swam but did not have fish and chips and caught the earlier train.