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!!)
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
: 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)
, 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
past until 19.57
, then 20.28
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.