The less-frequented heart of the South Downs to Rottingdean, with a pleasant walk along the promenade into Brighton to finish
18.7km (11.7 miles)Lewes to Rottingdean: 11.2km (7 miles), Rottingdean to Brighton station: 7.5km (4.7 miles).
Rottingdean to Southease: 8.9km (5.5 miles), Lewes to Rottingdean and back to Southease: 20km (12.5 miles)
|Maps||Explorer OL11, Landranger 198|
4 out of 10: one moderately steep hill climb, one lesser one: otherwise flat or downhill
This route uses the same fine downland start as Time Out Country Walks Volume Two, Walk 24, Lewes to Saltdean, with imagnificent views across the plains of the river Ouse. After that, it crosses the remoter, less frequented heart of the downs to Rottingdean, a village on the outskirts of Brighton. The sea is in view throughout this part of the walk, and in winter the low-angled sun turns it a glittering silver.
You can finish the walk at Rottingdean, taking very regular buses into Brighton. Alternatively, you can walk the attractive esplanade along the base of the cliffs to Brighton Pier. Though this section of the route is not a country walk by any stretch of the imagination, for at least the first two and a half kilometres it is a lot wilder than you might expect, and on a sunny afternoon the white cliffs against blue sky and the sun reflecting off the sea can make it feel positively Mediterranean. The same buses that serve Rottingdean also stop at many points along this route, and most terminate at Brighton station, so you can end the walk whenever you like.
Assuming you do not take the bus, eventually you come to the garish confusion around Brighton Pier, from where the walk offers a route to the station that takes in the Brighton Pavillion and the North Laines.
There are some who find ending of this walk in Brighton too urbanised after the tranquil downland of the morning section. For them an alternative ending at Southease is offered (see directions at the end of the main text). This is a quiet and lovely walk over the downs, the reverse of the afternoon of walk 24 Lewes to Saltdean in Time Out Country Walks Volume 2, but has severely limited tea options (see Tea below) and while Southease station is a beautiful place to wait on a fine summer's day, it has no facilities (just a tiny shelter and uncomfortable bench shelves to sit on), and so would not be a cheerful place in winter on a day of inclement weather. On such days it would be a good idea to time your arrival at Southease carefully.
If you are aiming to have lunch in Rottingdean, catch a train around 9.15 from Victoria to Lewes. Returns to Lewes are valid for return from Brighton. See point 18 for details of buses from Rottingdean to Brighton, if you plan to end the walk there.
Rottingdean is packed with pubs, tea rooms, and food shops, most of which are open all afternoon.The best selections seem to be just before and after the intersection between the village high street and the coast road, but if you are after a snack or picnic items, note the Village Bakery (open till 5pm Monday to Friday, but only 4pm on Saturday and closed on Sunday) which is on the right as you walk down high street. Across the road is the Co-op, but the Tesco Express on the coast road probably has a bigger selection.
For chips on the beach, The Smugglers fish and chip shop just before The Coach House is open to 2.30pm and from 5pm Monday to Saturday, and from 12-3pm only on Sundays, and just beyond the pub, the Sea Spray cafe (closed Mondays and Tuesdays, at least in winter) does all day breakfasts.
There is a tea/coffee kiosk at Ovingdean, 1km along the cliff-bottom walk between Rottingdean and Brighton Marina. It is open on sunny days throughout the year, and has excellent homemade cakes.
If you take option B), the route through the Marina at the end of the walk (see paragraph 39 of the walk directions) there are also options for tea in Brighton Marina, including The West Quay, a Weatherspoons pub, whose upper floor has fine views over the yacht harbour.
Once at Brighton Pier, there are numerous food and tea options, of which the best, if you want fish and chips, is the Palm Court restaurant half way up the pier.
An even better idea, however, is to carry on into the town, where the route described passes the wonderful Mock Turtle Tea Rooms, which are open till 6pm Tuesday to Sunday (ie closed Monday), and many other cafes, alternative eateries and snack places in The Lanes and North Laines areas.
On the alternative ending to Southease tea options are imited. You can divert towards the end of the walk to Rodmell to the Abergavenny Arms pub, but only if the last train times from Southease permit. Otherwise the YHA just beyond Southease station has a cafe, but it is open only till 4pm and then from 6pm to 8pm for dinner. In between those times the YHA reception serves hot drinks and says it is happy to sell them to non-residents.
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Out (not a train station)
Back (not a train station)
National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Travelline (bus times): 0871 200 22 33 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234
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Full directions for this walk are in a PDF file (link above) which you can print, or download on to a Kindle, tablet, or smartphone.
This is just the introduction. This walk's detailed directions are in a PDF available from wwww.walkingclub.org.uk