This is an energetic walk (550 metres or 1,600 feet of ascent) over three distinct downland ridges, with magnificent views throughout. One of the pleasures of the walk is that the entire route is in view for much of the walk, so you can look back at the terrain you have already done or ahead to the delights to come. Navigation is easy, the walking is over wide and distinct paths, and while there are three substantial climbs, most of the walk is flat, gently undulating or downhill.
As well as plenty of grand downland walking, the route includes a start and finish in historic Lewes, quaint corners of which you see both at the start and end of the walk, an optional detour to Mount Caburn (Iron Age fort) with its dramatic viewpoint of the whole circuit, and the pleasant small village of Glynde. You also pass the remote station of Southease, with its YHA cafe nearby.
The walk passes 2 train stations on the way between the 3 hills, so if you want to drop out, its quite easy. You can do the walk either clockwise or anticlockwise, and directions are given for both in the attached pdf
Directions are given to do this walk anti-clockwise (Lewes-Southease-Glynde-Lewes) or clockwise (Lewes-Glynde-Southease-Lewes). There is not much to choose between them in terms of views or gradients climbed: rather it is the length of sections and the positioning of lunch and tea options:
Anti-clockwise (directions on pages 3-5 of the pdf) is in many ways better. It has the advantage that you get the long Lewes to Southease section out of the way first, and this provides a decent length section before you get to lunch at the Abergavenny Arms in Rodmell. Doing the Lewes to Southease section in this direction also means you have a long pleasant descent with fine views to Rodmell, and also, in section two, to Glynde. In the afternoon, the Little Cottage Tea Rooms in Glynde (if they are open) are a possible tea stop, though sadly there is no longer a pub stop in the village. You then have an exhilarating finish over Mount Caburn that brings you directly down into the part of Lewes with the best tea options (Cliffe High Street). If tired, you can omit this last section and still enjoy a 17.4km (10.8 mile walk)..
Clockwise (directions on pages 6-9 of the pdf) leaves the longest section, Lewes to Southease, till last, and you face a long slow climb up to the highest point on the walk as part of this. If you feel too tired to tackle this, you have to finish the walk at Southease, after just 12.5km (7.7 miles). There is also a long slow climb out of Glynde. Now that the Trevor Arms in Glynde has closed, the only lunch option in that village is the Little Cottage Tea Rooms, if they are open. After that, the next refreshment is at the YHA Cafe in Southease after 12.3km (7.6 miles), while the only possible pub lunch is in Rodmell, after 14.5km (9 miles).
You can also obviously do the circular walk starting in Glynde or Southease, though if doing the latter by train, note that, the YHA cafe excepted, there are no pubs or facilities at this station, and only a basic shelter on its platform
Shorter walk options: As there is a station at the start and end of each section of this walk, you can do any one section as a walk in its own right, or any two consecutive ones (even starting at Southease, lunching in Lewes and finishing in Glynde or vice versa). If you are planning to walk from Lewes to Southease clockwise, however, you may like to consider the Lewes via West Firle walk (Walk 25 in Time Out Country Walks Volume Two), which covers some extra territory not included on this route.
Longer walk options: Heroic types might like to substitute the directions for the Lewes via West Firle walk on this website for the clockwise section two of this walk from Glynde to Southease, taking in a longer downland section and the pretty village of West Firle with its possible lunch stop at the Ram Inn. To do this, follow the directions in this document as far as the end of clockwise section one and then follow the Lewes via West Firle directions from point . At Southease carry on with clockwise section 3 of this walk. This adds 6.3km (4 miles) to the walk, making a total walk length of 29.9km (18.6 miles).
Trains to Lewes go twice hourly from Victoria (hourly on Sundays). The train recommended train is the one closest to 9.45am, but if doing the clockwise walk and aiming to lunch at Glynde the first train after 10am is fine, and if aiming to lunch in Rodmell in this direction the 9.15am might be a good idea.
To start at Glynde or Southease (hourly trains in either case), change at Lewes. Connections are usually better for the Southease trains than the Glynde ones. A day return to these stations is valid for return via Lewes.
By car: Start in Glynde (pub), Kingston (closest to London), or Rodmell (pub), all of which have free parking.
The Trevor Arms, the pub in Glynde has sadly now closed.
The Little Cottage Tea Rooms 01273 8589215 www.littlecottagetearooms.co.uk next to the post office in Glynde, serves cream teas in a pleasant garden from 11am to 4pm Thursday to Sunday most of the year, but only at weekends in January and February. In the Easter, late May and summer school holidays it is open daily except Wednesday. Glynde Stores and Post Office next door to the tea room serves takeaway coffee and hot chocolate (but not tea!) until 4pm daily.
The YHA Courtyard Cafe near Southease station is only open to the public till 4pm officially, but after that time you can sometimes still get served. As well as hot drinks, cakes and sandwiches, they serve puddings, pizzas, salads and jacket potatoes.
Abergavenny Arms, Rodmell 01273 572416 www.abergavennyarms.com is a popular pub with a pleasant outdoor terrace and is now the only possible lunch pub on this walk. It is open 12pm to 11pm (10pm on Sunday) but serves food only 12pm-3pm and 6pm to 9pm Monday to Saturday and 12pm to 4pm and 6pm to 8pm Sunday. Cream teas are served Wednesday to Saturday from 3pm to 5.30pm.
Where you have tea in Lewes will probably depend on which direction you are doing the walk in. On the anti-clockwise walk the pedestrianised Cliffe High Street is the first bit of the town you come to, and has several cafes and eating places as as well some fine old pubs. On the clockwise walk a short diversion off the walk route as you approach Lewes would take you to the charming Juggs Inn in the village of Kingston. Otherwise the road leading up the hill from the station has several independent cafes, while a back stop option is a Caffe Nero in the High Street open until 6.30 daily. In both directions the Landsdown Arms is a characterful pub near the station, and The Runaway, the buffet on platform 2 of Lewes station, is recommended for its excellent range of cakes: it is open until 6.50pm Monday to Friday, 5.50pm Saturday and 5.20pm Sunday.