Southease Circular walk

Varied South Downs walk. Sussex Ouse, Centenary Park (Peacehaven), Undercliff Path, the Western Hemisphere, Telscombe Tye, optional climbs and Eastern Hemisphere.

Length 14½ miles, 23.5 kilometres

6 out of 10.


A varied South Downs walk featuring the Sussex Ouse, Centenary Park (Peacehaven), the Undercliff Path, the Western Hemisphere, Telscombe Tye, optional climbs and the Eastern Hemisphere.


OS Landranger Map No. 198, OS Explorer Maps OL11 (formerly 122) & OL25 (formerly 123).

Southease station (TQ 432055) is in East Sussex, 5 kms (3 miles) South-East of Lewes.


Two trains an hour run from London Victoria to Lewes, where you change for Southease (journey time 1 hour 17 minutes). There is normally only one train an hour stopping at Southease, so keep an eye on the time towards the end of the walk (allow 40 minutes for the final section from Mill Hill).

Walk options

For a slightly longer morning section, where indicated towards the end of section 1 turn left not right, left on a minor road (Harping Hill), right on Lewes Road, then fork left towards Piddinghoe church. From the church follow section 3 of Walk 395 (Newhaven Circular) back alongside the River Ouse, but do not turn left over the suspension bridge in Newhaven. Instead stay on the coast path, following the directions in section 1 of Walk 395. On reaching quadrangular metal railings, do not turn right, instead leave Walk 395 and stay with the newly waymarked England Coast Path as far as The Promenade where you rejoin this walk early in section 3.

In Section 3 the main route takes the Undercliff Walk at sea level, but you can equally follow the cliff top Coast Path, from Bastion Steps to Howard Park. This option is more direct, but only by about 100 metres. The main lunch options are after Howard Park, so common to both routes.

After lunch in Telscombe Cliffs you could catch a 12/12A bus to Brighton, Newhaven or Eastbourne.

Two more short cuts are described in Section 5, via Fore Hill (returning to the main route at the start of Section 7) or Breaky Bottom (joining the main route a little further on). Both these options omit the toughest climbing of the walk, though the views are still good. The total distance is 18.2 kilometres for Fore Hill and 18.9 kilometres for Breaky Bottom.


This walk requires iron self-discipline to avoid degenerating in to a pub crawl, particularly with the prospect of catching a 12, 12A or 12X bus after lunch. Apart from the Gateway Cafe, all the pubs and restaurants listed below are easily reached from the coastal section of the walk between Peacehaven and Telscombe Cliffs and none of them require you to cross back over the main South Coast Road (A259). Read the walk directions for detailed directions for each. Thai, Chinese, Indian, Turkish, American and Italian appetites are all catered for. Picnic tables are available, set back from the cliffs, at The Dell (on the high road option only) and at Howard Park.

  • Papachino's Gateway Cafe
    Situated in the new "Big Park" in Peacehaven, from the same management which brought you Papachino’s at Seaford (both in the Sailing Club and the Salts Recreation Ground).
  • The Dewdrop Inn
    Situated just off the coast road in Peacehaven, the Dewdrop is a lovely old style pub with a good beer garden and car park. A traditional pub with lots of character but no food. 19 Steyning Avenue, Peacehaven, BN10 8HN, Tel: (01273) 587216
  • Burger and Bird
    Mainly burgers and chicken, but includes vegi-burgers. Open from 12 every day. 205 South Coast Road, Peacehaven, BN10 8LA (off Bramber Avenue) Tel: (01273) 030075
  • Big Mouths Burger Bar
    Open from 12 every day. 219 South Coast Road (off Horsham Avenue), Peacehaven. Tel: (01273) 585530
  • Stonehouse Pizza and Carvery (aka The Peacehaven)
    Pizza and Carvery. Cheap (carvery £6.29 Mon-Sat, £8.79 Sun), but no sea view (or winds). “With every plateful of our carvery roasts and stone baked pizzas offering cracking value, it's no wonder locals dining in and around Peacehaven can't get enough”. Open every day from 9 am. 293-295 South Coast Road, Peacehaven, BN10 7HX Tel: (01273) 589332
  • Maloncho
    Indian restaurant and takeaway. Open evenings only (from 5.30). 363 South Coast Road, Peacehaven, BN10 7HH (off Central Avenue) Tel: (01273) 586595/586596
  • Kappadokya
    Grill, Meze & Bar. Turkish Mediterranean restaurant with a largely meat and fish menu. Opens at 12 on Sundays but not until 5 on other days and closed all day Mondays. 381 South Coast Road, Telscombe Cliffs, Peacehaven, BN10 7EU (off Sussex Way) Tel: (01273) 101900
  • Thai Elephant Two
    An authentic Thai and Chinese restaurant. 379 South Coast Road, Telscombe Cliffs, Peacehaven, BN10 7EU (off Sussex Way) Tel: (01273) 588822
  • Tavern at Telscombe Cliffs (formerly Telscombe Tavern)
    Serves food every day from 12 with a weekly specials board which regularly includes locally caught fish. Situated in Telscombe Cliffs in an area with cliff views (one of the beer gardens is located at the top of the cliffs). £10 mains, more upmarket, good reviews, no sea view from the pub, but there are some outside tables above the car park which do. 405 South Coast Road, Peacehaven, BN10 7AD. Tel: (01273) 584688.
  • The Smugglers' Rest
    The suggested lunch stop, reached after 9.4 kms. On the cliff edge, sea views from both the pub and the terrace. Describes itself as an “attractive and spacious inn with delightful gardens” which “enjoys a spectacular and unrivalled setting on top of the Telscombe Cliffs in Peacehaven”. Open every day from 11.30. South Coast Road, Telscombe Cliffs, Peacehaven, BN10 7BE. Tel: (01273) 586593
  • YHA Courtyard Cafe 200 metres beyond Southease station (go across the level crossing and carry on up the road). Refreshments are available all day every day to about 8.30 pm and the hostel has a licensed bar offering cakes and snacks and a range of alcohol and soft drinks. All is not lost if you face a long wait at Southease.
Points of interest

Centenary Park (aka The Big Park)

This award winning park was officially opened on 15th April 2015 by HRH The Duke of Gloucester. It includes the Gateway Café.

Meridian Marker and King George V Memorial

The Meridian Monument in Peacehaven marks the point on the South Coast where the Greenwich Meridian enters and exits England. The Monument was unveiled on 10th August 1935. It was moved 30 foot North (thankfully not East or West) from its original position, when the coastal defence works were carried out during the 1960s. The chalk cliffs here often recede 40 cm annually, due to sea erosion.

Undercliff Walk

The Bastion Steps were built soon after World War I to give Peacehaven residents direct access to the beach below. The 188 metal steps lead down to the sea wall and Undercliff Walk at the end of Steyning Avenue. The cliffs here show a clear distinction between the natural profile on the east and a trimmed chalk face, West of the steps. By 1997, the entire Peacehaven frontage had been protected by a sea wall and undercliff walk. The Undercliff Walk runs from the Eastern end of Peacehaven near Chene Gap.

Telscombe Tye

Tye is derived from Old English teag, meaning a small enclosure, but it developed, from at least the 13th century, the meaning of a common pasture, becoming a synonym for a green or common. Telscombe Tye was purchased by Telscombe Town Counil in 1989 and has been part of the South Downs National Park since 2010 (previously it was part of a private trust). As part of its management plan, the Town Council aims to make the Tye accessible, safe and enjoyable for all. It is common land with open access on foot only and special grazing rights for Stud Farm. If you count more than 252 sheep, they are in breach of their rights (the farm, not the sheep).


12th Century Church, one of three round tower churches in Sussex. Although there are nearly 200 round tower churches in England, all but five are in East Anglia. Those not seen on this walk are St Michael’s at Lewes and another two in Berkshire. The village is mentioned in the Domesday book as a thriving community with one of the largest herring fisheries in the district at the time. Modern day Southease has a population of around 50 and the fishery is long gone.

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By Train

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Start BN8 6JS Map Directions


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


May-24 Mike Powell

Copyright © Saturday Walkers Club. All Rights Reserved. No commercial use. No copying. No derivatives. Free with attribution for one time non-commercial use only.

Walk Directions

The directions for this walk are also in a PDF (link above) which you can download on to a Kindle, tablet, or smartphone.

  1. A) Southease to Halcombe Farm (3.5 kms)
  2. Coming off the train from Lewes at Southease station, from platform 2 cross the footbridge over the railway line (or the level crossing) and turn left on to a tarmac road, your direction due South. In 120 metres the road curves to the right, your direction 260°, and in a further 310 metres it crosses a Grade II listed cast iron bridge (built in 1880) over the River Ouse. Immediately after the bridge, go through the wooden gate to the left by a public footpath signpost.
  3. For the best line, walk along the top of the raised embankment. It is possible to walk beside the river (to your left) at first, but this tends to be very wet and slippery. Below you to the right there is a surfaced track (which would be a good alternative in wet or windy weather). In 530 metres go through a wooden gate. In 440 metres there is a 3 armed signpost (indicating a path to the right) and the river and the path turn to the right. In 360 metres you pass the South Outfall (GR428040). There is a gate below and the path turns back to the left, soon with a road below to your right. There are views ahead of Seaford Head, the futuristic Newhaven Energy Recovery Facility and Piddinghoe church.
  4. In 230 metres ignore a field gate below on the surfaced track with the road and farm buildings beyond. In 50 metres ignore a wooden gate by a signpost below you (if you have been walking along the surfaced track, you can either use this gate or climb the bank). In 100 metres, just after a sign indicating a 5½ knots speed limit for vessels and with the way ahead blocked by a fence, turn right over a low bank to a 2 armed wooden signpost on the road indicating 1½ miles to Peacehaven. Cross the road to Chapel Barn.
  5. In 20 metres turn left at a wooden signpost immediately to the left of black gates leading on to a tarmac road (not the deceptively promising looking path to the left). In 50 metres you reach a large pond on your left, with a house to your right. In 140 metres the road turns to the left. In 250 metres you reach the end of the pond. In 40 metres you reach the corner of a stone wall on the left and take an unmarked but clear path leading up to the left (the map indicates a different line here). In 80 metres turn right at a T-junction (turning left takes you towards Piddinghoe – see Walk options for a longer morning route), now going gently uphill. In 150 metres turn right between wooden gate posts and continue downhill on grass.
  6. In 50 metres, just after a 4 armed wooden signpost, turn left back on the road. In 400 metres you pass Halcombe Farm and in 130 metres the farm house, both on your left.
  7. B) Halcombe Farm to Peacehaven (3 kms)
  8. In 60 metres stay on the road as it curves to the left and steeply uphill at a blue bridleway arrow (ignoring a vehicle exit to the right). In 390 metres, near the top of the hill, opposite a red dog waste bin and with houses immediately ahead, take the path to the left (due East) marked by a yellow arrow on a post to the left of a wooden field gate. Continue downhill at first in a field. In 30 metres the path goes uphill with a barbed wire fence on your left. In 200 metres it levels out with barbed wire fences on both sides and views of the South Downs to your left and Seaford Head ahead on the right. In 230 metres turn right on a minor road at a 3 armed wooden signpost (this is designated as a public footpath). In 340 metres go over a stile to the left of a gate on the road and fork to the right of Hoddern Farm. In 260 metres ignore a wooden field gate and entrance to paddocks on the left.
  9. In 120 metres turn left (185°) on a wide gravel track (bridleway) at a 3 armed wooden signpost. In 230 metres at a post with arrows continue ahead along a raised grassy margin between arable fields (ignoring a path to the left). In 220 metres turn right at a yellow arrow on a post, now with a wire fence to your left (behind the fence are sewage works and a raised bank). In 140 metres you pass an information panel for Centenary Park (not named on the map) and continue on a surfaced path, named on some maps as Bridleway Peacehaven 7a. In 130 metres cross a drive between wooden barriers, with the (surprisingly attractive) sewage works to the left. In 90 metres ignore the path to the right leading to an enclosed play area. In 130 metres pass to the right of Gateway Cafe and continue ahead. In 50 metres at the start of the car park, go over a stile to the right and immediately turn left (you can if you prefer just continue to the end of the car park), on a narrow path with a line of trees to your left and residential fences to your right. In 190 metres cross Roundhouse Crescent and continue on the pavement with sea views ahead.
  10. In 60 metres cross Arundel Road to Piddinghoe Avenue. In 250 metres cross the coast road (A259) and continue on Piddinghoe Avenue.
  11. C) Peacehaven to Telscombe Cliffs: the high road or the low road? (2.9 kms)
  12. In 190 metres at the end of the road, turn right (on Neville Road, but not named here) following a brown sign for Cliff Top Walkway. In 70 metres turn left on Mayfield Avenue at another Cliff Top Walkway sign.
  13. In 60 metres pass a sign for The Promenade and turn right on the coast path, with houses to your right. You pass the end of several residential roads to reach Bastion Steps car park at the end of Steyning Avenue in 430 metres (the Dewdrop Inn is further up Steyning Avenue, on the right).
  14. Here you have a choice. For the ‘low road’ and the main walk, ignore the next two paragraphs, but for the ‘high road’ continue on the coast path towards the Meridian Monument visible at the top of the next climb. In 70 metres you pass Bramber Avenue (leading to Burger and Bird) and in another 70 metres you pass Dorothy Avenue with a small car park. In 60 metres on your left is the King George V Memorial, which marks the Southernmost point of the Meridian on the British mainland. Welcome to the Western hemisphere. In 15 metres you pass Horsham Avenue (turn right here for Big Mouths Burger Bar).
  15. In 70 metres you pass Edith Avenue and in another 70 metres Roderick Avenue. In 80 metres you pass a 2 armed wooden signpost, with more houses to your right then enter The Dell, a grass space with picnic tables set back from the sea (the best spot for a picnic on a windy day). In 130 metres ignore an unmade road (Rowe Avenue) and pass between wooden posts, continuing with houses to your right. You pass Hoddern Avenue in 80 metres and Phyllis Avenue in another 80 metres. In 100 metres you reach a wide concrete drive in Howard Park. The ‘low road’ rejoins you here; ignore the next paragraph and continue below.
  16. For the ‘low road’ and the main route from Bastion Steps (perhaps after first visiting the monument) descend the steps to your left. At the foot of the steps turn right on the Undercliff Walk, a wide concrete drive, with the sea immediately to your left, the sheer chalk cliffs to your right and views to Brighton ahead. In 20 metres you pass the ramp (leading back to Bastion Steps) In 800 metres leave the Undercliff Walk at the first exit, forking right and uphill. In 150 metres turn left, back on the coast path (and rejoining the ‘high road’) in Howard Park.
  17. Howard Park has sheltered seats suitable for a picnic. Staying on the concrete takes you to Stonehouse Pizza (carvery), but to continue the walk turn left (or straight ahead, from the ‘high road’), back on the coast path. In 100 metres leave the park and continue with houses on your right.
  18. In 90 metres you pass the end of Lincoln Avenue South, with houses directly on the coast path. In 120 metres you continue on grass with several other roads set back on your right. In 190 metres you pass the end of Central Avenue, which leads to Maloncho (Indian restaurant). In 120 metres you pass the end of Sussex Way to your right - if you continue to the traffic lights at the junction with the coast road, you will find Elephant Two (Thai bar and restaurant) and Kappadoka to your left. In 190 metres you pass picnic tables; for The Tavern, turn right before the wire fenced enclosure, crossing grass to the pub car park and The Tavern itself. Otherwise, continue on a grass path with a wire fence to your left and the coast beyond.
  19. In 60 metres you pass the corner of a wire fence to your right. In 120 metres a path forks right to the corner of another pub car park to your right. Cross this to reach The Smugglers Rest in 150 metres. Alternatively, if you do not intend to visit the pub continue on the coast path, then in 140 metres turn right at a 2 armed wooden signpost for the England Coast Path. In 80 metres you reach the main coast road with The Smugglers Rest on your right.
  20. Note that there are bus stops to your right, on both sides of the road, where you can catch a 12/12A bus either to Brighton or (by crossing the road) to Newhaven and Eastbourne. If you continue beyond the Tavern to the next stop (Telscombe Cliffs Way) you will have a better choice of buses (up to 9 an hour) as the 12X also stops here.
  21. D) Telscombe Cliffs to Telscombe (2.3 kms)
  22. From the pub door, leave the car park at the far left corner and turn left on the coast road, crossing over at the traffic lights. You pass a green public footpath sign and in 20 metres go through a gate to your left in to Telsombe Tye. There are three grass paths visible on the ground (not on the map). Take the middle path (300°), away from both the coast road and the houses and steadily uphill. Ignore several crossing paths. In 470 metres just after the top of the climb and with the houses of Saltdean coming in to view below, you reach an earth bank. Turn right here on a clear sunken track (30°), climbing steadily again.
  23. In 1.1 kilometres you pass the last houses visible to your left. In 130 metres the corner of the fence to your right is visible (beyond a metal trough). You stay on the sunken track in to the next field. In 440 metres you pass to the right of a fenced dew pond (in the next field).
  24. In 80 metres you continue on a gravel road (this is Gorham’s Lane, which you will encounter again in another 11 kms, so if the weather is horrible it would make for a good short cut – it leads through Telscombe, where there are no facilities). In 60 metres you pass a wooden signpost with 4 arms and several arrows. Ignore all the arms and take the path half left, the Greenwich Meridian Trail (before a cattle grid).
  25. E) Telscombe to Pickers Hill Farm (2.6 kms)
  26. Keep well to the left of a bench and information panel, heading to the right of woods and a house (300°) on a vehicle wide gravelly track. In 440 metres go through a gate to the right of a cattle grid and turn right between fences. In 40 metres go through a wooden gate and continue along the left edge of the next field (350°) with wide views to your right. In 210 metres go through another wooden gate and through a metal gate in 150 metres, with an enclosed reservoir just ahead to your left. Continue with a barbed wire fence on your right, level and then downhill, then level again. In 600 metres there is a metal gate on your right, with a faded yellow arrow on the fence and a stone public footpath marker just ahead (GR 395043).
  27. For the remainder of this section, you have the option of the main walk, which continues ahead, or the short cut via Fore Hill, which takes the path to the right (described at the end of this section). It is also possible to continue on the main route a little further, then take a different short cut which very soon returns to the main walk, continuing via Breaky Bottom. Note that the Fore Hill route is entirely off-road whereas the Breaky Bottom option includes a short section on concrete.
  28. For the main route, ignore the metal gate on your right (GR 395043), taken by the Fore Hill short cut. Continue on a wide path with a barbed wire fence to your right. In 150 metres go through a metal gate by a field gate. The main route turns left here, at a post with blue and yellow arrows, but for the Breaky Bottom short cut, continue ahead and in 400 metres go through the metal gate on your right with yellow and blue arrows on a post (GR 393047) rejoining the main route where noted in section 6.
  29. The main route continues on a wide grassy path, downhill along the left edge of a large field, with housing visible ahead on the skyline. In 470 metres continue in the next field, now level on a probably muddy path. In 160 metres the path turns to the right towards Pickers Hill Farm, now downhill again. In 310 metres you pass to the left of a barn and in 15 metres to the right of a signpost with blue arrows, ignoring the path to the left.
  30. Short cut via Fore Hill
  31. Take the metal gate into the field on your right. Continue ahead at 85° (the right of way takes a different line here), heading down towards a wooden gate which should be visible here (in the direction of the masts on Beddingham Hill). Pass to the right of a drinking trough and in 300 metres go through the gate with a yellow arrow by a metal field gate. Continue ahead with a rough hedgerow above on your left.
  32. In 280 metres you pass the end of the hedgerow and in 30 metres the corner of the wire fence to your left. In 270 metres you descend, parallel with a fence below you to your right (expect mud here), beyond which there is a danger area. You climb again to reach a metal gate in 390 metres.
  33. Go through the metal gate and head downhill away from the fence on a wide grass path, making for the corner of woods and a brick building (Mill Hill) on the next hill. In 390 metres go through a metal gate. In 120 metres at the bottom of the descent the path appears to divide - the right hand option is more direct but it is not the right of way. Instead turn left past a telegraph pole (you cross the meridian line again hereabouts, with less fanfare). In 160 metres turn right and uphill at the corner of the field. In 70 metres you pass under wires. In 200 metres you reach a signpost by a bench (GR 413048) with a gate and Mill Hill to your left. Turn right and downhill here, following the directions for the main walk (at the start of Section 7).
  34. F) Pickers Hill Farm to Mill Hill (6.4 kms)
  35. In 20 metres, before the last farm buildings, head to the right under wires. In 25 metres turn left and uphill at a blue bridleway arrow, following the right side of a field (North West). In 330 metres go through a gate with a blue arrow, and uphill in the next field.
  36. In 280 metres the path levels out; continue on a wide chalky path, with a rough hedgerow to your right. In 130 metres you have hedgerows on both sides and continue gently uphill. In 420 metres go through a gate with a blue arrow and turn right (away from Balsdean Cottages) on a grassy path (330°). In 220 metres pass below a covered reservoir to your left, with buildings below to your right (a pumping station, according to the map). In 90 metres go through a wooden gate and turn right on a drive (a public bridleway), downhill. In 600 metres the drive turns right, but you go through a wooden gate or metal field gate ahead and continue along the right edge of a field, still downhill.
  37. In 70 metres go through a metal gate and cross the next field more steeply downhill on a clear path (the field boundary turns to the left). In 100 metres the path bottoms out then goes steeply uphill. In 290 metres go through a wooden gate by a signpost and continue along the left side of the next field. In 180 metres continue ahead at a wooden signpost, ignoring the path to the left (GR 384053).
  38. In 140 metres the path divides briefly with a ruined building away to your right. Keep left here as the lower path to the right can be very muddy. In 60 metres you pass a marble memorial in the form of a cross. In 30 metres the paths come together again. In 560 metres go between metal gate posts marking the field boundary to your right, with wide views to the right (and behind you). In 390 metres go through the metal gate on your left with yellow and blue arrows on a post at GR 393047 (the Breaky Bottom short cut joins here), uphill at first, following the left edge of the field by a wire fence, then gently downhill (though the map shows the right of way to the other side of the fence). The way ahead is visible to the top of the next climb.
  39. In 570 metres go through a metal gate and continue downhill in the next field. In 200 metres go through another metal gate by a metal field gate and continue gently downhill between fields and barbed wire fences. In 310 metres the path turns left (with a house and vineyard on your right) then right. One expert has dubbed this the most beautiful vineyard in Britain, but visits are by appointment only.
  40. In 400 metres go through a metal field gate by a wooden signpost and continue downhill on a vehicle wide concrete track, past a sign for Breaky Bottom to your right. In 160 metres the path goes uphill. In 130 metres turn right at a 4 armed wooden signpost through a metal gate (GR 407057), now joining Walk 2/24, Lewes to Saltdean and the South Downs Way (SDW), which you follow all the way back to Southease station.
  41. Continue along the left-hand side of the field. In 430 metres (having crossed the meridian line again), go through a metal gate to continue along a fenced-in path. In 220 metres at a crossroads of paths at Mill Hill (indicated on the black wrought iron gates of the large house on your right), go through the gate ahead (turning left leads to Rodmell and the Abergavenny Arms).
  42. G) Mill Hill to Southease (2.8 kms)
  43. Continue downhill on the SDW with the field boundary to your left. In 400 metres go through a wooden gate and turn left. In 100 metres turn left at a 3 armed wooden signpost, still on the SDW (with farm buildings to your right).
  44. In a kilometre follow the SDW to the right at a 3 armed wooden signpost, climbing through woods. In 70 metres go through a wooden gate and follow the path round to the left, still climbing. In 110 metres go through a wooden gate and cross the minor road ahead (Gorham’s Lane). Cross the main road to your left and turn right on the pavement. Turn left in 50 metres down a lane passing by St Peter’s, Southease on your right-hand side in 110 metres. This is one of three round tower churches in Sussex; you glimpsed another earlier at Piddinghoe (to visit the church, turn right and in 30 metres you come to the entrance into the churchyard). There is a ‘South Downs Way water tap’ at the entrance of the church.
  45. Continue on the road through the village and beyond, your direction east, and in 460 metres cross the bridge over the River Ouse. In 430 metres you return to Southease station (but continue along the road for refreshments at YHA South Downs). Trains to Lewes and Brighton go from the near side, but cross the footbridge or level crossing for Seaford.
© Saturday Walkers Club. All Rights Reserved. No commercial use. No copying. No derivatives. Free with attribution for one time non-commercial use only.