Hassocks to Lewes walk

A South Downs ridge walk ... maximum view for minimum effort, with historic Lewes to finish.

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 # Weather
Wed, 07-Jul-21 Wednesday Walk Hassocks to Lewes - up on to the South Downs Way then down to Lewes, with optional detour to Plumpton for a pub lunch 12 started cloudy got sunny later
Sun, 02-Jun-19 Sunday Walk: Hassocks to Lewes 8 sunny with lots of wind
Sun, 23-Sep-18 Sunday Walk: Hassocks to Lewes:
Sat, 20-Jan-18 Saturday walk - Hassocks to Lewes - a South Downs classic
Wed, 20-Sep-17 "Jack and Jill" - and Panoramic Views from the Ridge of the South Downs 7 wet in the morning
Sat, 07-May-16 Saturday Book 1 Walk - Hassocks to Lewes 30 warm overcast some sun breeze
Sat, 28-Mar-15 Hassocks to Lewes 11
Sat, 01-Nov-14 Hassocks to Lewes 18
Sun, 13-Apr-14 Hassocks to Lewes 27
Sat, 08-Feb-14 Hassocks to Lewes 3
Fri, 29-Mar-13 Hassocks to Lewes
Sun, 09-Sep-12 Hassocks to Lewes
Sat, 31-Mar-12 Hassocks to Lewes
Sat, 16-Jul-11 Hassocks to Lewes
Mon, 27-Dec-10 Hassocks to Lewes
Sat, 17-Jul-10 Hassocks to Lewes
Mon, 28-Dec-09 Hassocks to Lewes
Sat, 18-Jul-09 Hassocks to Lewes
Sat, 28-Jun-08 Hassocks to Lewes
Sun, 13-Apr-08 Hassocks to Lewes
Sat, 21-Jul-07 Hassocks to Lewes
Sun, 01-Apr-07 Hassocks to Lewes
Sat, 24-Feb-07 Hassocks to Lewes
Wed, 07-Jul-21
Wednesday Walk Hassocks to Lewes - up on to the South Downs Way then down to Lewes, with optional detour to Plumpton for a pub lunch
Book 1, Walk 29 - Hassocks to Lewes

Length: 18 km (11.2 miles)
Toughness: 4 out of 10 The ascent up onto the South Downs is steady rather than excessively steep - although it should remove the cobwebs
London Victoria: 10-15 hrs Southern service to Littlehampton CJ 10-22 hrs, EC 10-33 hrs
Arrive Hassocks: 11-12 hrs
Return

Lewes to Victoria: direct trains at 15-57, 16-27, 16-57, 17-57, 18-27 and 18-57 hrs, and 17-14 hrs via Brighton
Rail ticket: buy a day return to Lewes
Covid-19 Compliance: [until 19 July 2021] 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 swc-marcus@walkingclub.org.uk 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.
After a few adventures north and west of the Thames in recent weeks I thought SWC mid-week walkers might like a sojourn south of the river - so lets give this walk between West and East Sussex a spin - up onto the South Downs Way, to enjoy some fabulous views (weather permitting). And as an added bonus, our Webmaster has just added an interesting detour towards walk-end - to Old Hamsey Church, which I am looking forward to taking.
Leaving Hassocks you walk towards the base of the South Downs and then head steadily uphill, passing Jack and Jill windmills on the way. Once on top, if you wish you can stay on the South Downs Way ridge walk for most of today's walk, picnicking on top. But some of us will drop down to Plumpton to the walker-friendly pub, The Half Moon, for lunch. The price for this detour - we have to climb back on top to continue the walk !
Having enjoyed an extensive ridge walk you drop down to the village of Offham before continuing beside the River Ouse into Lewes, with its Castle and visitor attractions, plus some half decent refreshment stops - but before reaching Lewes the detour to Old Hamsey Church has been recommended to us.
T=1.29
Walk Directions are here: L=1.29
  • 08-Jul-21

    12 at the station. It started cloudy got sunny later The others soon shook me off on the hill up to rhe windmills. What’s the hurry? 5 descended to Plumpton for lunch.It was good (so I am told). I wouldn’t say I was going fast but they didn’t catch me up till Lewes. As we were between trains we visited the White Hart. Empty and only serving drink in bottles. 2 had tea, 2 imbibed. We sat out back in the sun. Then come home.I find the stretch up top a little monotonous. But there was plantlife to be seen, ladies bedstraw, catchfly, hawk something or other, to name a few. And some white stuff that defied identification.

  • 08-Jul-21

    Forgot to mention the orchids. There were some.

Sun, 02-Jun-19
Sunday Walk: Hassocks to Lewes
Book 1, walk 29. 18 km 11.2 ml. Difficulty 5/10.

Up the hill to Jack and Jill
Then tumble down to Plumpton town.
Hey diddle diddle Half Moon Inn then back along the top again.
Along the way we will behold a hilltop fort and ponds of old.
To continue on our South Downs walk, we march back down like the Duke of York.
Along the Ouse in seven-league shoes, then up through the castle into Lewes.
We’ll be Countryside Code compliant in case we meet the local giant.

(One of my greatest works.....would you believe they've given that Poet Laureate job to someone else. Again!)
Trains:
Get the 09:25 Brighton train from Victoria (09:32 Clapham Jct, 09:42 East Croydon) arrives Hassocks 10:24.
From Lewes, trains return direct to Victoria at xx:21.
Get a return to Lewes.
Lunch: the Half Moon 01273 890 253, Plumpton. (A nice pub that involves descending and re-climbing the downs. Some prefer to picnic on top.)
Tea: several places spring to mind
The Lewes Arms a homely pub with good beer, beside the castle walls in Mount Place. One of Mr Tigers favourites, not that he drinks much anymore.
The White Hart once a 16th Century coaching inn, now a quaint posh place on the High Street.
Ask restaurant
The Garden Room Cafe, closes 4:30
Directions here
T=1.29
  • Tony
    31-May-19

    Hey Mr. Tiger. Thanks for posting a favourite walk. Does the outbound Hassocks train arrive at 10:24?

  • 31-May-19

    So it does. text corrected.

  • 08-Jun-19

    Six off the train, who caught up on the ridge and one who missed the train so meet us at the pub in Plumpton so 8 . sunny with lots of wind . There were beautiful views along the ridge with some tumuli on the way. Most picnicked on the ridge, which was spectacular. Three went to the pub and two joined later, where our last member joined the group. As always, there was some splintering after lunch, and two had missed the trail as they were having a great conversation. Five of the group met up in dribs and drabs in Lewes for either tea or some well deserved ale. All in all a great day out.

Sun, 23-Sep-18
Sunday Walk: Hassocks to Lewes:
Hassocks to Lewes: Book 1, walk 29
18 km 11.2 ml
Difficulty 5/10

Up the hill to Jack and Jill
Then tumble down to Plumpton town*.
Hey diddle diddle Half Moon Inn then back along the top again.
Along the way we will behold a hilltop fort and ponds of old.
To continue on our South Downs walk, we march back down like the Duke of York.
Along the Ouse in seven-league shoes, then up through the castle into Lewes.
We’ll be Countryside Code compliant in case we meet the local giant.
Trains:
Get the 09:25 Brighton train from Victoria (09:32 Clapham Jct, 09:42 East Croydon) arrives Hassocks 10:21,
From Lewes, trains return direct to Victoria at xx:21. It is also possible to get the xx:24 and change at Brighton.
Get a return to Lewes
Lunch: the Half Moon 01273 890 253, Plumpton. (A nice pub that involves coming down from the top then going back up the down. Alternatively, stay up there and picnic.)
Tea: several places spring to mind.
The Lewes Arms a homely pub with good beer, beside the castle walls in Mount Place. One of Mr Tigers favourites.
The White Hart once a 16th Century coaching inn, now a quaint posh place on the High Street.
Ask restaurant
The Garden Room Cafe,
Directions here
T=1.29
  • 16-Sep-18

    *Plumpton: really a village but as big as any town in fairyland.

Sat, 20-Jan-18
Saturday walk - Hassocks to Lewes - a South Downs classic
Hassocks to Lewes (Book 1, walk 29)
Length: 18km (11.2 miles)
Toughness: 4 out of 10: one big climb to start, another if you go to the pub for lunch: otherwise gently undulating or downhill

9.20 train from Victoria (9.26 Clapham Junction, 9.36 East Croydon) to Hassocks, arriving 10.07. (A lovely quick train - this is basically the Brighton Fast with a Hassocks stop)

Buy a day return to Lewes (this is valid via Brighton and so therefore must be valid via Hassocks, right?...)

For walk directions click here. For GPX click here.

I am taking a gamble on the weather in picking this walk at this time of year. If there are gale force winds and driving rain it has not a shred of shelter and will be mainly attractive for those practising for their Scottish holiday in May..... Low clouds would also hide the magnificent views that make it worthwhile. (In fairness, both of these things are true in June too.) But if there is reasonably fine weather there is little better than a bracing stride along the South Downs Ridge, with all England spreading away to the north. Blow away the winter cobwebs, focus your mind onto summer walks to come, look down on fields and villages and feel detached from the humdrum cares of the world...

The chalk downs are also relatively mud-free in winter - the word to stress being "relatively". Hopefully no gloopy morasses and with (almost?) no stiles either, the miles should fly by. The one thing to watch out for are paths descending off the downs, particularly when going down to Plumpton: thin mud on chalk can be slippy. Take care.

It is a VERY long time since I went to the Half Moon in Plumpton, the recommended lunch stop, but it seems to still be there. Sandwichers can miss out this ascent and descent. In Lewes as well as the tea places mentioned at the top of the high street you may also find others at the bottom in the pedestrianised bit by the river...

Trains back are at 16 and 54 past today. This is not quite the normal service and journey times are 5-10 minutes longer than usual (so 1hr 10 mins or so), but nothing tragic. T=1.29
  • 18-Jan-18

    The Half Moon pub won’t take reservation for lunch. Walk-ins only.

  • 18-Jan-18

    Will take a taxi from the lunch time pub back to Hassocks, if anyone wants to bail out early. P

  • 19-Jan-18

    Where will we meet at the beginning of the walk? This is only my 2nd walk -- thank you!

  • 19-Jan-18

    The group should be obvious when you get off the train at Hassocks.

  • Anonymous
    19-Jan-18

    There should be quite a few walkers in the group tomorrow, Lisa.

  • Anonymous
    20-Jan-18

    n = 7

    Light rain; mist

    Seven on this: six regulars (including one late starter) and one occasional - genial company all. Opening and closing curtains of atmospheric mist on the stilly South Downs. Keen on a pub lunch and snack-free (unlike my companions - thank you to them for offers to share), I parted from the other five who were on the scheduled train, at the point where you can divert to The Half-Moon. I was then caught by the speedy Late Starter and we enjoyed a very friendly reception and fine fare at the pub: excellent pork sausage and battered fish dishes, promptly served, but not too promptly. Late Starter then sped on toward Lewes and I walked to Plumpton Station. I hope the other five enjoyed the rest of the walk.

Wed, 20-Sep-17
"Jack and Jill" - and Panoramic Views from the Ridge of the South Downs
Book 1, Walk 29: Hassocks to Lewes

Length: 18 km (11.2 miles)
Toughness: 5 out of 10

Either
London Blackfriars: 09-52 hrs Brighton service from Bedford. East Croydon 10-19 hrs
Arrive Hassocks: 10-58 hrs

Or
London Victoria: 09-54 hrs East Grinstead service
Arrive East Croydon: 10-10 hrs
Leave East Croydon: 10-19 hrs Brighton service from Bedford (as above)
Arrive Hassocks: 10-58 hrs

Return: Lewes to Victoria: 16-14, 16-54, 17-14, 17-52, 18-16 and 18-50 hrs, plus 07 and 22 mins past hour via Brighton

Rail ticket: buy a day return to Lewes. Younger walkers- head for East Croydon and use your railcards from there.


This lovely walk starts on the flat from Hassocks, going past Butchers Wood. On reaching Clayton, you should visit the Saxon church of St John the Baptist, before beginning your ascent of the South Downs - nothing too demanding. You pass the two Clayton Windmills on your way up - Jack and Jill - and once on the ridge of the Downs you are on the South Downs Way, from which you have wonderful 360 degree views as you pass Keymer Post then Ditchling Beacon. Further along the ridge, it's decision time: if you want a pub lunch, you drop down off the ridge and head for the pub - the Half Moon -in Plumpton. Sandwich eaters who do not want a drink at the pub can stay on the ridge, and save themselves the climb back onto the Downs.
Down in Plumpton you can shorten the walk by heading north to Plumpton railway station via Plumpton racecourse, some 3 km from the half Moon pub. Otherwise, you have another not-too-demanding ascent back onto the ridge of the Downs to continue along the South Downs Way on pleasant grassy ways. Eventually, you leave the ridge and drop down to the village of Offham, from where you start your homeward leg by walking beside the River Ouse all the way into Lewes for tea in the town or at the railway station's excellent cafe, the Runaway.
If you enjoy ridge walks you should enjoy today's walk.
T=1.29
Walk Directions here: L=1.29
  • 15-Sep-17

    I'm away this week so I hope all mid-week regulars plus those attending for the first time enjoy this lovely South Downs walk.

  • Anonymous
    19-Sep-17

    Anyone going on this walk?jfk

  • 20-Sep-17

    Frankie

    6 off the train in Hassocks who soon overtook 1 who had taken an earlier train so 7 altogether.

    2 minutes into the walk those who had rain gear decided that the irritating drizzle would turn into heavy rain and covered up. And rain it did - all morning. It was a Wednesday after all.

    The church of St. John the Baptist offered no temporary shelter since it was closed for building works. With very limited visibility there was no need to stop to admire the views so we pressed on to the Half Moon pub in Plumpton arriving just before a funeral party. All but one, who had to be back in London early, had an average, cheap and hearty lunch and tried to dry off and warm up in front of a wood burner that managed to produce remarkably little heat.

    The group then split up with 2 taking a taxi to visit the Wood exhibition at the Ditchling Museum of Art and Craft while the other 4 warmed up on the steep ascent back to the South Downs Way. The rain had stopped and at 16.00 the sun came out.

    All 4 then took the 16.54 train back to London.

    A day of two halves but an enjoyable one.

  • 20-Sep-17

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • 21-Sep-17

    7 wet in the morning

Sat, 07-May-16
Saturday Book 1 Walk - Hassocks to Lewes
Book 1 Walk - Hassocks to Lewes
A hike over the South Downs

Trains : 9:20 Brighton train from London Victoria to Hassocks , arriving 10:07. Return trains from Lewes at xx16 /54 direct. Buy a return to Lewes.

Lunch : Half Moon (tel 01273 890253), Plumpton.

Tea : There's plenty of choice in Lewes. A few options: Garden Room Café (tel 01273 478636) at 14 Station Street, open till 5.30pm, White Hart Hotel (tel 01273 476694), 55 High Street

Click here for full details and walk directions
T = 1.29
  • ClaireMorgan
    05-May-16

    I think the Garden Room cafe may have closed - I have happy memories of numerous visits, but could not find it the last time I was there. Anyone been recently?

  • ClaireMorgan
    05-May-16

    Have now checked the walk updates & confirmed it closed some years ago.

  • Anonymous
    05-May-16

    Never mind, there are quite a few other tea options to choose from in lewes.

  • Anonymous
    06-May-16

    I can recommend Bills 56 Cliffe High Street, Lewes t: 01273 476918.

    It's a little bit of a walk from the station, but well worth the effort.

    Might be worth calling ahead if there's more than 5 or 6 of you intending to visit.

  • Anonymous
    06-May-16

    Thanks for posting this standard distance walk that we used to know. At least I don't need to worry about walking alone if I take a short cut on one of the long walks below. Thank you.

  • Ian T
    09-May-16

    30 warm overcast some sun breeze I lagged behind the others so can't say how their day went. I forewent the descent to Plumpton but rewarded myself with some HSB (its a beer - not a bank) in the Lewes Arms at walk's end.

  • David Colver
    09-May-16

    I was with Ian T at the back of the pack for some time at the start, so I expected to be one of the last at the lunch stop. To my surprise, I was one of the first, and only about a dozen of our group eventually drifted in. I guess the bulk of the group chose not to squander the hard won elevation and stayed on the ridge to Lewes.

    The menu of the Half Moon at Plumpton was a little limited, but such as it had came quickly enough and was of good quality.

    The timing of this walk was good, with a sensible start time that got us to the pub before it filled up.