Bishopstone Circular walk

A demanding walk with spectacular views and 6 distinct climbs, from the sea over the Comp and the South Downs to Berwick, returning via an equally undulating route


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 Option Post # Weather
Sat, 28-Oct-23 Saturday Walk - Inland from the sea - fine seaviews, plenty of undulation, beautiful valleys, lunch in Berwick: Bishopstone Circular 8 A little rain
Sat, 18-Sep-21 Bishopstone Circular [New Walk] 14 cloudy on the coast but sunny on the downs
Length: 21.3 km (13.2 mi)
Ascent: 510m
Net Walking Time: 5 ¼ hours
Toughness: 6 out of 10
Take the 09.24 Eastbourne train from Victoria (09.31 CJ, 09.40 EC), change at Lewes (10.26/10.30, Seaford train), arriving Bishopstone 10.44.
Take an earlier train to Lewes if you want to avoid the suspense of the 4 minute up and over change to the far platform (there is a café on the platform and another one by the gates).
Return trains: xx.27 and xx.55.
A demanding walk with spectacular views and 6 distinct climbs, from the sea over the Comp and the South Downs to Berwick, returning via an equally undulating route, featuring two separate climbs up to the South Downs, first from the sea, then from the North. There is no coastal walking (plenty of sea views) and very little ridge walking, but there are a series of climbs before you reach the Downs and after you think you have left them behind but also a level section between Berwick and Alciston.
Lunch: The Cricketer’s Arms in Berwick (10.9 km into the walk, food served all afternoon).
Tea: Papachino’s at the Galley, Marine Parade and Newhaven and Seaford Sailing Club, both near the station. Or walk on to Seaford for pubs...
For walk directions, map, height profile, and gpx/kml files click here. T=swc.379
  • 14-Oct-23

    Note that toughness is shown on the walk document as an 8. Definitely not a 6!

  • 14-Oct-23

    6/10 it is if compared objectively to all the other wonderful day walks we have on this website.

  • 28-Oct-23

    8 of us left Bishopstone, and after a few miles of putting suncream and sunhat on, and this and that, I gradually lost the rest. There was a little rain. I met three at the Berwick church, and 3 in The Cricketers. Two had gone to Berwick station to catch the train. Which is what I did eventually, as the rain was forecast to be heavy. I didnt see much rain at all, although the clouds were certainly heavy.

    There seemed to be a bit of a anxiety about being caught in the rain.

    A great walk over fabulous down land as we know.

    I wanted to get to the South Downs before the dark months come.

    The Old Ale from Harveys was magnificent. I had a pint from the handpump, and also gravity. This is the only pub I know which does this.

    Any comments from others about the weather on the second part of the circular will be received with interest.

  • 28-Oct-23

    8 A little rain

  • 30-Oct-23

    Yes 8 on the walk, though by my reckoning we formed in to at least 5 different groups in the afternoon. The rain largely stayed away between 10.30 and 5, other than 2 short showers; nor was it very windy on the downs.

  • 30-Oct-23

    Yes, very little rain on walk. Ignore weather forecasts.

    Angry from Tooting.

Sat, 18-Sep-21 : Bishopstone Circular [New Walk] 14
Bishopstone Circular

20 kilometres, 12½ miles. Toughness 8 out of 10.

This new walk starts and finishes on the Sussex coast at Bishopstone, one station before Seaford. It features two crossings of the South Downs and six distinct climbs, hence the high toughness rating. The only level section is between the villages of Berwick and Alciston, North of the Downs. The start of the walk will be familiar from the ending of Walk 2/26 (Glynde to Seaford), but most of the route is new to SWC.

A number of shorter options are suggested, though in truth it’s the hills that are the issue not the miles. You could follow the South Downs Way West to Southease, or turn North towards Firle and Glynde. If you have a map and want a pub lunch, a good option would be to follow the Vanguard Way North to Berwick station, which would make a good short walk (12.8 kms).

Lunch is at the Cricketer’s Arms in Berwick, conveniently half way through the walk (10.1 kms).

An atmospheric place on the seafront for post-walk refreshments, just beyond Bishopstone station is Papachino’s at the Galley, which is part of Newhaven and Seaford Sailing Club. Just don’t use the wooden ramp as a short cut – it’s for boats!

Catch the 09.24 from Victoria (Clapham Junction 9.31, East Croydon 9.40) to Lewes (10.31). This is the train for Eastbourne, Hastings and Ore. Be warned that if it’s on time you only have four minutes to change for the 10.35, which gets to Bishopstone at 10.49. Trains return from Bishopstone at 3.31, 3.59 etc, getting to Victoria at 5.06, 5.36 etc. It may be worth buying a return to Seaford (which is no more expensive) in case you decide to continue the walk along the seafront.

Posted on behalf of Mike
  • Mike P

    The distance of this walk has now been corrected to 21.3 kms (13 1/4 miles), with the pub at 10.9 kms. I have made these changes on the website.

  • Anonymous


  • 18-Sep-21

    A large group from London missed the connection in Lewes b/c of late arrival of Eastbourne train. Plan to catch next train ., starting 30 mins late.

  • 18-Sep-21

    Great walk. I started at Berwick about 3.20 pm.and got to Bishopstone about Late night at the jazz night before is my excuse.

    Trains were terrible as I was hoping to catch you at the cricketers

  • 19-Sep-21

    Isn’t anyone going to do a walk report, then? OK, I will have to do, somewhat in the Moontiger vein…. 13 on this walk, unlucky for someone, in this case me, since I was the left-behind Johnny-no-mates for the day….

    But I get ahead of myself. Very busy train, which missed the Lewes connection. A suggestion was made to start at Berwick instead (the train to which was fairly imminent) but several walkers had gone to the toilet, so we waited 20 minutes for the next Bishopstone train.

    Setting off, this walk initially follows the Seaford Circular route, but after a while twists and turns off into new territory. Basically having climbed onto a ridge, it looks for the quickest way to dive off it into a steep-sided valley, all so you can climb onto the next ridge from its bottom. But on the way you discover some very scenic spots, several of which I didn’t know about, and in one of which I decided to stop and eat my sandwich, it being 1pm. So a great new addition to the SWC canon. (Do we have a canon?)

    By this point the rest of the group had long since stopped being dots on the far horizon. I was terribly tempted to drop down onto Alfriston, which was very close at this point, for tea and cake, but kept to the route as it climbed Side of a House Hill (I think that is what it was called…). Once on the familiar South Downs Way I decided that rather than go down to the Cricketers in Berwick (reached by most walkers, I think: good reports) I would simply carry on with the afternoon route, so sneakily getting ahead of the pack. The downs were deserted. I have never seen the South Downs Way so empty. Once I left it, I passed only four people the whole afternoon, and they were all together. Wherever those crowds on the train were going, it was not here.

    The afternoon was less hilly - and perhaps less interesting too, though the final route into Bishopstone was ingenious. I kept looking back along the immense vistas hoping to spot dots on the horizon that would indicate the main group coming up on my heels….but dots were there none.

    It had been cloudy on the coast but sunny on the downs . I kept hoping the coastal cloud would shift, but it did not. I got to the beach at 4.40pm and had a 20 minute swim right round a buoy. Then had tea and cakes. The others turned up at 5.30pm and four swam, plus me having a hypothermic second dip (I was not really properly warmed up from the first). We then went to the beach bar, which was sadly closing early due to staff shortages, but let us get takeaways to consume at their outside table. Just before we went for the 6.57pm train, the sun finally peeped below the clouds.

    And so onto the Covid Express back to London with a bottle of wine as prophylactic. Didn’t I read somewhere that a glass of wine protects you better than two jabs and a booster….?

  • Anonymous

    plus 1 starting late from Berwick and arriving in B'stone after everyone else: 14