The trig point on the downs near Southease

23-Jan-05 • Peter Conway on Flickr

swcwalks book2 walk25

The South Downs

23-Jan-05 • Peter Conway on Flickr

swcwalks book2 walk25

Downs view

23-Jan-05 • Peter Conway on Flickr

swcwalks book2 walk25

West Firle

23-Jan-05 • Peter Conway on Flickr

swcwalks book2 walk25

Old Forge in Glynde

23-Jan-05 • Peter Conway on Flickr

swcwalks book2 walk25

Hill near the start

23-Jan-05 • Peter Conway on Flickr

swcwalks book2 walk25

On the Downs above Lewes

23-Jan-05 • Peter Conway on Flickr

swcwalks book2 walk25

Lewes via West Firle Circular walk

Long. A steep hill (views) to Glynde. Lunch in quiet West Firle, then the South Downs Way (chalk ridge), with a flat valley walk back to historic Lewes


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
Sat, 22-Jul-17 15

Lewes via West Firle - a South Downs classic (with lots of afternoon options)

Book 2, walk 25 - Lewes via West Firle
SWC walk 181 - Lewes to Seaford via West Firle

Length: Options from 16.8km (10.4 miles) to 23.6km (14.7 miles)
Toughness: 7 out of 10: two big hill climbs (fairly flat otherwise)

9.47 train from Victoria (9.53 Clapham Junction, 10.03 East Croydon) to Lewes, arriving 10.47.

Buy a day return to Lewes, unless you have definitely decided to return from Southease, Berwick or Seaford (see below) in which case get a day return to those places.

"Why haven't we had any South Downs walks this summer?" I was asked recently. The answers include: a) we have had a few, b) Southern drivers work to rule, c) charity events using the South Downs Way, d) the voracious enthusiasm of Meet-Up groups for doing South Downs walks.

This week c) and d) don't seem to apply. My answer to b) is that trains to Lewes are half hourly. If the specified train is cancelled, get the one half an hour later. (Venceremos!!)

So, the walk today is Lewes via West Firle and there now two incarnations of this. Book 2, walk 25 (directions) and SWC walk 181 (directions). Their routes to West Firle and up onto the downs are almost identical, except that SWC 181 has, in my opinion, a better and less strenuous route over the Mount Caburn massif. So I recommend you use that one as far as lunch.

Lunch is at the Ram Inn in West Firle, the Trevor Arms in Glynde being closed currently (and possibly permanently). The Ram is popular but does food all afternoon, so it might be an idea to get there after the lunchtime rush. There is a tea room in Glynde which might provide an early light lunch alternative.

After West Firle you have lots of choices (You know you love'em!)
*# 1) Switch to the Lewes to Berwick option for walk 25 (directions), which takes you along the bottom of the downs, passing Charleston, summer retreat of the Bloomsbury set (Virginia Woolf and chums), which is open to the public. This is a 17.5km/11 mile walk. Trains back from Berwick are at 17 past.

*# 2) Follow walk 25 to Southease, have tea in the YHA tea room (closes 4pm). Get train home (36 past to 19.36, then 20.39). This is the 16.8km/10.4 mile option.

The other options are all 23km/14.5 miles:

*# 3) Do 2) above and then do the river ending of walk 25 back to Lewes: flat, tranquil, perhaps a bit samey after a while. Trains back from Lewes are at 16 and 54 past

*# 4) Do 2) and then the Northease Ending to Lewes. For this you will also need these directions.

*# 5) Do 2) and then the extension to Saltdean, a suburb of Brighton, where you can swim in the sea (but see tide info in comment section). For this you need the second half of these directions. You return by train from Brighton: many trains an hour: your return to Lewes is valid.

*# 6) Finish walk 181, which goes over the heart of the downs (the book 2 Southease to Seaford route, essentially) to Seaford, where you can also have a swim. Trains back from Seaford are at 27 and 58, usually changing at Lewes, sometimes changing at Brighton. T=2.25

If you are thinking of doing one of the sea swimming options for this walk, note that it will be LOW TIDE when you get to Saltdean (5.17pm), which means you can't swim at Saltdean (rocks): but there is a beach at Rottingdean, about 1 mile to the west along the seafront promenade, which is swimmable even at low tide. Or you can get the bus into Brighton and swim there.

Seaford is swimmable at any state of the tide
At Lewes we saw a fair few set off walking whilst 6 of us chose the Glynde to Berwick option which is still 15.5K according to the sat nav, so not to be sniffed at.
Glynde was easily reached after extra coffee and pastries at Lewes whilst we waited 15 minutes for the connecting train
Upon walking out of Glynde ( The Trevor Arms is well shut ) we wandered along to The Ram in West Firle where we had a very pleasant lunch and watched as a fast male walker with two female companions whizzed by with ner a nod to us early lunchers.
All in all it was a very gentle day on the lowlands and the
conversation in lowered voices with a smattering of laughter every so often made it all very relaxed. I don’t think that Trump or MPs or Brexit were mentioned even once.
The afternoon walk was punctured / punctuated by occasional showers ( we felt a little sad ( only a little ) for those walking over the top ) during which time we headed in for tea and cake or tea and dessert at firstly the Charleston cafe and secondly at The Cricketeers. Both of them delightful in their own ways the home made plum cake and the lemon and poppy seed cake at the first one come cafe
highly recommended. That reminds me, there was a little foraging for wild plums which were delish but the blackberries have a way to go say another three or four weeks yet.
The day finished with us catching the 17.17 out of Berwick with a change at Lewes which gave another opportunity for cake and further refreshment
Ho hum
One our group suggested that we all go on a 5/2 diet and make Saturday one of the 2 days this was met with hoots of derision.
We did our best to support the local economy by making the most of each and every shopping opportunity chicken eggs, duck
eggs, plants, jams, marmalade and almost some 8 day old chicks the amount of support we dished out made us feel very virtuous.
The only real hiccup of the day was the lightning strike at East Croydon that took out the train signals resulting in a somewhat delayed arrival at Victoria but no matter Marks and Sparks was still open so we could buy some evening meal supplies.
I Replete
As told on today's Shoreham walk.... all in, about 15 walkers, no leadership and people dispursing in various directions quickly. Some frustration with the plethora of route options, complicating following the text in the dire conditions.
Sat, 25-Jun-16 16

Saturday First Walk - a South Downs classic

Book 2 Walk 25 - Lewes via West Fire
Length: 16.8km (10.4 miles) with lots of opportunities to extend: see end of post
Toughness: 7 out of 10 (mainly due to two big hill climbs: flat otherwise)

9.47 train from Victoria (9.53 Clapham Junction, 10.03 East Croydon) to Lewes, arriving 10.47.

Buy a day return to Southease, unless you have definitely decided on one of the extensions: see below

For walk directions click here.

It is not without some trepidation that I pick a Lewes walk, given the covert industrial action on Southern that is leading to some train cancellations at present. But trains to Lewes are half hourly, so if the 9.47 gets cancelled, hopefully the 10.17 will run. A fast train to Brighton and a connection there to Lewes may also work. Plus last week the Berwick to Eastbourne walkers had no train problems.....

We have so many walks from Lewes these days that this classic outing gets overlooked. It is a simple yet beautiful walk, up over the downland massif of Mount Caburn to Glynde, across the valley to West Firle, and then along another beautiful downland ridge to Southease. Both Glynde and West Firle have mouthwateringly nice pubs (under the same management these days), so it is more a question of which one you are outside when your stomach starts rumbling (or which one has room, though both seem to cope with large numbers)

The 10.4 mile version of this walk would end at Southease, from where trains return to Lewes at 36 past to 19.36, and then at 20.39 (last train). Change at Lewes for trains to London (unless your connection has been cancelled, in which case it might be better to stay on the train to Brighton and change there: your ticket will be valid).

The YHA cafe is a possible tea stop at Southease but it closes at 4pm. After that time you may be able to get hot drinks from the YHA reception. Or you could break your journey (allowed on the return leg) at Lewes and search for refreshments there.

Extensions to the walk:

- The "main walk" goes along the River Ouse from Southease to Lewes, a distance of 4 miles. This is idyllic or monotonous depending on your frame of mind, but on a sunny evening could be rather nice. Trains back from Lewes are at 16 and 54 past the hour until 19.54, then 20.54, 21.54 and 22.40

- Or you can carry on from Southease to Saltdean, a seaside suburb of Brighton where a (probably somewhat chilly) sea swim might be possible. To do this you need to have the directions for Book 2, walk 24. This also adds 4 miles or so to the walk. You get a bus from Saltdean to Brighton station. A day return to Lewes is valid for return from Brighton.

- Lastly there is a Lewes to Berwick option on the website - see here, that goes along the base of the downs from West Firle passing Charleston Farmhouse, where the Bloomsbury Group lived and which you can visit, and Berwick church that the group decorated (free). This is only a mile or so longer than the main walk. ie 11 miles. You travel back from Berwick (trains at 17 past the hour), changing at Lewes or Brighton, and will need a day return to Berwick (Sussex).

Not sure what the mud factor is on this walk but huge thunderstorms down this way last night so some 'goo' might be expected in parts.
As the “Berwick One” who only met the others for about 20 minutes in a popular hostelry, I am probably the least qualified to comment. But seeing as no one else has, here goes.
They tell me 15 got off the train at Lewes plus 1 free spirit starting at Glynde (that’s me) so 16
Weather was changeable cloudy some sun ominous rumbles from the sky on occasion but no rain to speak of
Not boggy underfoot on the Berwick section. The Ram was friendly and seemed to please. Seem more organised than in the old days.
I can’t tell you how many finished at Southease cos I wasn’t there.
Meanwhile, the Berwick One got followed by a herd of baby bulls. (Turn round and they stop, continue walking they start again. We’ve all played that game). Thankfully, they gave up after a couple of fields. Alciston church was open – a first for me but (sorry) not all that interesting inside. A quick "half" in the Cricketers then took the longer finish to Berwick. Got there just as the rain started.
Sun, 05-Jul-15 11

Sunday Walk 1.... South downs, art and beer..... (or tea)

Lewes to Berwick
Book 2 walk 25 + download
Length: About 17.5km (11 miles), Toughness: 7/10
Can be shortened by 5km (3.1 miles) and turned into a 4/10 by starting at Glynde.

One of my favourite walks visiting two of my favourite pubs. The morning takes you over the downs, through Glynde, and on to lunch in the characterful Ram Inn in West Firle, a pretty flintstone village.
St Peters church in West Firle has a Piper window.
The afternoon takes you past Charleston Farmhouse (01323 811 265) and Berwick Church, both lavishly decorated by members of the Bloomsbury Group.
Charleston Farmhouse costs £11 for the whole visit or £4.50 for the garden only. There may be reductions for walkers.
The church, reached later, is free and open at most times.
Get a day return to Berwick (Sussex). The "Sussex" bit is important.
For the Lewes start.
Get the 09:47 Ore train from Victoria (Clapham Jct 09:53), arriving Lewes at 10:48.
For the easier start at Glynde, you have several choices.
The Ore train calls at Glynde today, so you could just stay on the 09:47 till the next stop.
However, the 10:47 from Victoria reaches Glynde at 11:54. The Lewes starters would be passing through just about then.
It is also possible to travel via Brighton. Get to Glynde for 11:29 by taking the 10:06 from Victoria to Brighton (Clapham Junction 10:12) then, from Brighton, the 11:12 Ashford train.
Trains back from Berwick are at xx:41, changing at Brighton.
The Ram Inn,West Firle 01273 858222
You could also stop at the Trevor Arms in Glynde 01273 858208 but the Ram's my favourite, OK?
Charleston Farmhouse has a tea shop, which is accessible without entry fee.
The Cricketers Arms, Berwick 01323 870 469, is another of my favourites, and "open all day, every day". They do tea and they have a nice garden. They have a (not immediately obvious) selection of cask ales behind the bar. You still have a 2 or 3 km.walk to Berwick station, so allow time to reach it. If taking the shorter route to the station, the cycleway to the left of the road is quieter.
There’s also the Berwick Inn 01323 870018, near the station, which has a pleasant garden.
Directions: You need two things:
For the morning, you need the directions for Book 2 walk 25, "Lewes via West Firle Circular".
For the afternoon you need the directions for “Lewes to Berwick option”
Both available here
11 on this walk. 8 from Lewes, 2 who accidentally stayed on till Glynde but worthily backtracked up Mount Caburn to meet the others, and 1 lazy so and so off the later train to Glynde. A Mr Tiger, I think his name was.
starting cloudy overcast a bit damp but hot and sunny later. A dismal rainy unpromising start in London turned dry for the morning with blue skies and hot sun from 2.
Most had brought lunch but some ate at the Ram – the Trevor, apparently was packed.
No one stopped at Charleston as far as I know.
The Cricketers‘ tea disappointed – one teabag in a pot for two, I’m told. But I can vouch for the beer. And the garden is still nice.
16:41 home.
Sat, 09-May-15

Saturday First Walk

Book 2 Walk 25 Lewes Circular (Via West Firle)
14.5 miles (23.3Km) at the very most but plenty of options to shorten it
7 out of 10
OS Landranger 198 OS Explorer 122 &123

OS map with route on it here

Get the 09.46 from Victoria ( Clapham Junction 09.53 ) arriving at Lewes at 10.56
Direct trains back from Lewes at XX.52 and several indirect ones
Get a return to Lewes unless that is that you want to start from Glynde

Some of you may want to take the train to Glynde from Lewes at the beginning which cuts 5 Km from the walk and also saves you from doing the steep hill from Lewes to Glynde
Leaving Lewes at 11.09 (probably from Platform 3) arriving Glynde at 11.14 (those who are walking this bit should arrive here around 12.00)

The route passes by the farmers market at Cliffe High St in Lewes which is open from 09.00 to 13.00

This is three walks in one really so there are a couple of alternative endings, best check out the walk directions ( in book 2 )
but you can bail out after 5 Km at Glynde Station,
or at Southease Station after 16.8 Km
or there is
which reduces the walk to 11 miles

According to the updates the Piper stained glass in Firle church is gloriously bright in sunshine
here is a pic

is at The Ram ( 01273858222 ) and the menu looks great

Cricketers pub in Berwick ( 01323 870469 )

in Lewes take your pick as there are quite a few

More background on the walk here
Sat, 24-Jan-15 26 Lewes to Southease, via West Firle
Sat, 24-Jan-15 Lewes to Berwick
Sat, 24-Jan-15 Lewes to Saltdean, via West Firle
Sat, 02-Aug-14 7 Lewes via West Firle Circular
Sun, 06-Jul-14 12 Lewes to Berwick
Sun, 25-May-14 18 Lewes via West Firle Circular
Sun, 07-Jul-13 13 Lewes to Berwick
Wed, 01-May-13 Lewes to Saltdean, via West Firle
Sun, 10-Jun-12 Lewes to Berwick
Sun, 25-Mar-12 Lewes via West Firle Circular
Sat, 02-Jul-11 Lewes to Southease, via West Firle
Sun, 19-Jun-11 Lewes to Berwick
Sat, 25-Sep-10 Lewes to Berwick
Sun, 18-Apr-10 Lewes via West Firle Circular
Sun, 11-Oct-09 Lewes to Berwick
Sat, 27-Jun-09 Lewes via West Firle Circular
Sun, 28-Sep-08 Lewes via West Firle Circular
Sat, 19-Jul-08 Lewes via West Firle Circular
Sat, 08-Mar-08 Lewes via West Firle Circular
Sun, 24-Jun-07 Lewes via West Firle Circular
Sat, 16-Jun-07 Lewes via West Firle Circular