The South Downs Way via Rodmell and Bishopstone
Standard walk 18.1km (11.3 miles), 5 hours 40 minutes. For the whole outing, including trains, sights and meals allow at least 10 hours.
Without loop to lunch at Rodmell 12.3km (7.6 miles), 3 hours 50 minutes.
Ending at Bishopstone cuts 1.8km (1.1 miles) of any of the walks
Lewes to Seaford 24.8km(15.4 miles) 6 hours 30 minutes.
|Maps||OS Landranger Map No. 198, OS Explorer Maps OL11 (formerly 122) & OL25 (formerly 123).|
|Toughness||6 out of 10.|
|Features||This walk offers a wealth of contrasting scenery, passing alongside a river, then rising to the heights of the South Downs to command views both inland and out to the coast, before descending to pass through pretty villages en route to the seaside. It begins at Southease station then follows the banks of the River Ouse to Rodmell for an early lunch. Afterwards the route retraces to Southease via an alternative way which passes its picturesque village centre, then ascends to follow a ridge of the South Downs Way before heading south to the village of Bishopstone and the coast. It finally follows the seaside esplanade to the sleepy seaside town of Seaford with its variety of cafes, pubs and restaurants.|
Cutting out lunch at Rodmell: Instead of heading west to Rodmell for lunch, you follow the route directly east from Southease station to Seaford, reducing the walk to 12.3km (7.6 miles). If you do this there is no refreshment stop until the end of the walk however
Ending at Bishopstone station cuts 1.8km (1.1 miles) off any of the other walk options
Lewes to Seaford : Using the morning of Walk 24, Lewes to Saltdean, as far as its lunchtime pub, the Abergavenny Arms, and then switching to this walk at point  makes a grand Lewes to Seaford walk of 24.8km (15.3 miles)
Rodmell's best known landmark is the Monk's House (tel 01372 453 401).This was the summer home of Virginia and Leonard Woolf from 1919 onwards, and it was while staying here that Virgina committed suicide in March 1941 (when she filled her pockets with stones and drowned herself in the Ouse, her body being found up against the piers of the bridge at Southease). Her ashes are buried in the garden. Leonard remained here until he died 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 now owned by the National Trust and open to visitors on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons only, April to the end of October 2pm to 5.30pm.
Bishopstone is so called because the Bishops of Chichester stayed here until the 1600's. St Andrew's church has some of the earliest Saxon works in Sussex and parts of the eighth century structure remain. The church hosts two Summer fetes, on the first Saturday of May and the first Saturday of August, and it is worth considering these dates when planning to go on this walk as both events provide welcome refreshments. Otherwise please note there is nothing available between Rodmell and Seaford.
Two trains an hour run from London Victoria to Lewes, where you change for Southease (journey time 1 hour 17 minutes). Take the first train after 10am from Victoria to get to lunch in Rodmell in time. Trains back from Seaford run twice hourly (one per hour on Sundays): change at Lewes for London (journey time about 1 hour 30 minutes).
By car: park at or near Lewes station, and travel one stop to Southease station. There is no parking in the environs of Southease station
The Abergavenny Arms (tel 01273 472416), Newhaven Road, Rodmell serves food from midday to 3pm Monday to Saturday and to 4pm on Sunday. This is a large friendly pub with a log fire, and wide menu advertising 'traditional english wholesome home made food'.
Picnic Virtually anywhere along the South Downs would be a good picnic spot, or perhaps on the green outside St. Andrew's Church at Bishopstone.Note under 'Walk Options' that if you are planning to picnic rather than lunch at the pub, you could dispense with the detour to Rodmell and continue directly east to Seaford. However, even if you don't want lunch at Rodmell, it is still worth going there for the walk along the river and to visit Monk's House when it is open.
Seaford does have various cafés, but most tend to close too early to be of use on this walk.
The Old Plough pub (01323 872921), near the church in the centre of Seaford, is a reliable alternative, serving tea and coffee in large pots, as well as tasty desserts
Salts Café, Salts Recreation Ground. (01323 490727). Seasonal opening times.
Trawlers Fish & Chip Restaurant, near the station, is a quality fish and chip shop, and a firm favourite with SWC walkers
An earlier version of this walk was published in Time Out Country Walks near London volume 2. We now recommend using this online version as the book is now dated.
After the walk, we would love to get your feedback
Out (not a train station)
Back (not a train station)
National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Travelline SE (bus times): 0871 200 2233 (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