Lewes to Saltdean walk

South Downs Way along a chalk ridge in the morning, remote Rodmell for lunch, then back up and over the downs to the coast. Undercliff path, or bus to Brighton

First view of the downs Lewes to Saltdean walk
First view of the downs

Lewes to Saltdean walk

Sep-18 • Saturdaywalker on Flickr

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On the downs Lewes to Saltdean walk
On the downs

Lewes to Saltdean walk

Sep-18 • Saturdaywalker on Flickr

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Descending to Rodmell Lewes to Saltdean walk
Descending to Rodmell

Lewes to Saltdean walk

Sep-18 • Saturdaywalker on Flickr

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Descending to Saltdean Lewes to Saltdean walk
Descending to Saltdean

Lewes to Saltdean walk

Sep-18 • Saturdaywalker on Flickr

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walk 24 View from the Downs
walk 24 View from the Downs

Aug-04 • Peter Conway on Flickr

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walk 24 Detail, garden of Southover House
walk 24 Detail, garden of Southover House

Aug-04 • Peter Conway on Flickr

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Lewes via Rodmell Circular 1 Hanging, 26 March '05
Lewes via Rodmell Circular 1

Hanging, 26 March '05

Mar-05 • MEW2005 on Flickr

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15.5km (9.6 miles). For a shorter walk and other variations, see below Walk options.

Time: 4 hours 45 minutes. For the whole outing, including trains, sights and meals, allow at least 9 hours.


Twice hourly trains run between London Victoria and Lewes (journey time: 1 hour 5 minutes). Take the nearest train to 9.30am. From London Bridge and other Thameslink stations, you can change at East Croydon for the train from Victoria. If not walking onto Brighton from Saltdean, there is a frequent coastal bus service to Brighton. A return rail ticket to Lewes is valid from Brighton. For those driving, park centrally in Lewes; the train station has a car park.

OS Maps

OS Landranger Map: 198

OS Explorer Map: OL11 (formerly 122)

Lewes, map reference TQ416098, is in East Sussex.


4 out of 10.

Walk notes

This fine South Downs walk follows ridges of chalk grassland offering panoramic views in all directions. It begins in the historic town of Lewes, then the route quickly rises to follow a ridge along the top of the Downs before descending for lunch to the picturesque and historic village of Rodmell with its literary associations. In the afternoon it gently climbs back over the Downs to the sea to emerge at the town of Saltdean, with the option to continue for a further 8.5 km to Brighton.

Walk Options

The directions for the following variations appear at the end of the main walk text. (see p260).

a) Alternative return to Lewes via Northease Manor: This route, which is lower-lying than the main walk route, takes you inland via Northease Manor. You follow the main walk directions to point [5], then follow the directions for this option at the end of the main walk text.

b) Shorter walk ending at Southease: You can reduce the length of the walk to 12.5km (7.8 miles) by ending at Southease and returning by train to Lewes from there. Follow the main walk directions until point [5], then follow the directions at the end of the main walk text.

c) Lewes to Seaford walk (via South Downs): For the ultimate, invigorating long walk (24.8km/15.4 miles) from Lewes to Seaford, you can take the short walk option (b) above, ending at Southease station, then take the separate Southease to Seaford (walk 26, option (a) in this book) which starts at Southease station.


Lewes Castle (tel 01273 486 290) and the Barbican House Museum nearby are open to visitors until 5.30pm daily (last entrance 5pm). The castle, which is visible for much of this walk, was built around 1070 by William de Warenne who fought alongside William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings. In the 1264 Battle of Lewes the rebel Earl of Leicester, Simon de Montfort, with an army of Londoners and 5,000 barons, defeated Henry III leading to England's first parliamentary meeting at Westminster in 1265.

Lewes Priory Only the ruins of the priory remain as the church, which was as large as Westminster cathedral, was demolished during Henry VIII's dissolution of monasteries. The Priory of St. Pancras was also founded by William de Warenne.

Anne of Cleves House, Lewes (tel 01273 474610) is a 16th century timber framed Wealden house given by Henry VIII to Anne of Cleves as part of their divorce settlement, but she never lived there. The house now contains the museum of Lewes charting the town's history from the 16th Century to the present day. It is open to visitors from 10am to 5pm,Tuesday to Saturday and 11am to 5pm on Monday and Sunday. Admission is £2.80.

Southover Grange House and Gardens, Lewes An Elizabethan house built in 1572 by William Newton, using Caen stones from the ruins of Southover Priory. John Evelyn the diarist lived here while attending grammar school.

Monk's House, Rodmell (tel 01892 890651)was the home of Virginia and Leonard Woolf who lived here from 1919 until Virginia's suicide in March 1941 (when she filled her pockets with stones and drowned herself in the river). Her ashes are buried in the garden. Leonard remained here until his death in 1969. Visitors to the house during the years they spent here included Vita Sackville-West, Lytton Strachey, E. M. Forster, Maynard Keynes, T. S. Eliot and Roger Fry. The house is open to visitors on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons, April to the end of October 2pm to 5.30pm. Admission is £2.60.

Lunch and Tea
  • Abergavenny Arms Newhaven Road, Rodmell, BN7 3EZ (01273 472416). Open: 11am-3.30pm, 5.30-11pm Mon-Fri; 11am-11pm Sat; noon-10.30pm Sun. Food served: noon-2pm, 6-9pm Mon-Fri; noon-3.30pm, 6-9.30pm Sat; noon-3.30pm Sun. This large friendly pub has a log fire and a wide menu advertising ‘traditional English wholesome home-made food’. This is the suggested lunch stop for the main walk. It also offers cream teas during July and August on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 2.30pm to 5.30pm.
  • The Spanish Lady Longridge Avenue, Saltdean BN2 8LH (01273 303383).
  • Whitecliffs Beach Café Marine Drive, Saltdean BN2 8SQ (01273 309219)
  • Saltdean Lido Undergoing renovation, café planned. Re-opening for weekends from 17/18 June 2017. Daily from 7th July - early September.

    Rottingdean From Saltdean it is only a further 1.2 km to Rottingdean, where there are many tea options.

  • Garden Room Café & Gallery 14 Station Street, Lewes, BN4 2DA (01273 478636). Open: 10am-5pm Mon-Sat. Situated close to the station, this is the suggested tea stop for the main walk.
  • White Hart Hotel 55 High Street, Lewes. BN4 1XE (01273 476694/ www.whitehartlewes.co.uk). Open 10am-10pm. Food served noon-2.15pm, 7-10.15pm daily. One of several alternatives for tea in the centre of town.

This walk was originally published in Time Out Country Walks near London volume 2. We now recommend using this online version as the book is dated.

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By Train

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Start BN7 2UP Map Directions

Finish Saltdean, East Sussex Map Directions


National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Traveline (bus times): 0871 200 22 33 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234


Apr-24 Sylvia

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Walk Directions

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