A gentle walk along river valleys through fields and woods, finishing with a climb over the South Downs above Glyndebourne
20.9 km (13 miles)
A gentle walk along river valleys through fields and woods, finishing with a climb over the South Downs above Glyndebourne
(a) An afternoon detour around the large village of Ringmer adds 0.9km to the total length.
(b) The afternoon climb onto the downs can be avoided by following the Ouse Valley Way all the way to Lewes. This reduces the total length to 18.2km (11.3 miles) with a toughness rating of 2/10.
The walk can be shortened by taking a bus to Lewes or Brighton from Ringmer or from Broyle Side.
Take the train nearest to 10:00am (or 9:00am) from London Bridge to Uckfield. On Sundays take the train nearest to 9:45am (or 8:45am) from Victoria or London Bridge to East Croydon and change there for Uckfield.
Buy a return ticket to Lewes, which is accepted on the outward journey to Uckfield.
The Anchor Inn (tel: 01273 400414) , on the banks of the River Ouse, provides meals and also offers boating on the river. Take the earlier train to reach the inn by 12:30pm, or the later one to arrive by 1:30pm.
There are several tea places in the centre of Lewes.
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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The directions for this walk are also in a PDF (link above) which you can download on to a Kindle, tablet, or smartphone.
- At Uckfield station, exit at the front of the platform, cross the main road, turn right and cross the bridge over the River Uck.
- At Bridge Cottage turn left into Bell Walk shopping precinct. Bear half right across a car park, go past a bus station and the Uckfield Club on your right, and turn left at the roundabout on the B2102, signposted ‘out of town’.
- Cross the road, go past a fire station and in 120m, where the tarmac path turns right, continue straight ahead on a grass path, parallel with the main road to your left. [To avoid walking next to the main road, you can follow the tarmac path round to the right and almost immediately turn left, and rejoin the main road in about 900m]
- In 900m, at Batchelor Way, shortly before a T-junction, cross the B2102, turn right and in 130m turn left at the roundabout on to the A22, immediately crossing it and turning left.
- In 70m cross a double stile on the right just before a metal fieldgate and go half left across a field. In 110m cross a stile and go along the left-hand edge of a field.
- In 150m cross a stile to go through a wooded area and over a wooden footbridge into the next field where you follow its left-hand edge. Over to the left can be seen the embankment of the never completed Ouse Valley Railway.
- At the end of the field, ignore a squeeze stile on the left and turn right along the field edge between barbed-wire fences to cross a stile in the corner, passing a brick abutment of the unfinished railway.
- Go through an overgrown area and in 40m turn right along a car-wide track. In 30m turn left over a stile, . Ignoring a path to the right, go straight ahead, to the left of an oak tree, along the right-hand edge of a field for 200m (direction 210°). At the far end, cross a stile and turn left at a 3-way footpath junction.
- In 80m go over the stile ahead next to a metal fieldgate and bear slightly right (direction 140°) across a field to cross a stile on the far side, ignoring the squeeze stile 50m to its left.
- In 80m cross a wooden footbridge over the River Uck and turn right. In 120m turn left on a car-wide track which in 200m meets the trackbed of the disused Uckfield to Lewes railway line. Note a barn owl nesting box in a tree to the right shortly before this point.
- Turn right for 7m on this track to then cross a stile on the left. Bear slightly right across a field to go over a stile into a wood.
- In 110m exit the wood over a stile, turn right and in 20m cross a stile on the left to go half-right up a field (direction 130°), aiming for the right-hand edge of a small copse. Leave the field through a metal fieldgate hidden behind the copse, 60m before the field corner, and turn right on a lane for 400m.
- Pass large industrial-style farm buildings on the right and later College Farm. Horsted Place is visible ahead to the left, and there are fine views to the right. Just after the lane bends left, and at the end of a garden hedge on the right, turn right on a grass track and in 30m, just before reaching a metal fieldgate, bear left on to a narrow path.
- The path runs through a narrow belt of woodland between fields for 800m and then continues as a tarmac lane. In 120m turn right to cross a wooden footbridge and stile to go initially along the right-hand edge of a field before leaving the edge to aim for a footbridge ahead.
- Cross a wooden railed footbridge over the River Uck and go straight on, aiming for a wooden pylon pole beside a loop of the river. Continue in the same direction for 80m and then bear left beside the river to pass under the metal frame of an old railway bridge. Here you can see the Dingley Dell terminal of the Lavender Line which terminates on the other side of the disused bridge.
- The path bears left alongside the river, passing through two metal fieldgates, and turning left at the second to continue beside the river, passing another barn-owl nesting box. In 500m cross a metal-railed footbridge to the left and turn right to continue alongside the river.
- Just past a disused metal kissing-gate, go through a gap on the right into the next field and turn left. In 110m go through a metal fieldgate, then in 180m cross a metal stile and go ahead up a farm track towards the buildings of Tile Barn Farm.
- Immediately before some large farm buildings ahead (with a disused wooden stile on the right) turn right along a wide stony track. As the track turns left, turn right on a footpath into a wooded area. In 30m go through a tall wooden gate and turn left along a gravel drive to reach a road.
- Turn right on the road and 30m past Isfield Village Hall, turn left through a gap in the hedge to cross a small field to the far corner.
- Follow a fenced path and pass through a metal kissing-gate to go along the edge of a field, turning left at a fence corner. At the far end, cross a stile and turn right along a stony track (bridleway).
- Follow the track past a duckpond to the left, ignore a bend to the left and carry straight on.
- Just before reaching a bridge over the River Ouse, cross a stile on the left to join the Ouse Valley Way and follow the river bank for 1.8km till you come to the Anchor Inn on the other side of the river, which you cross at this point by a footbridge.
- On coming out of the pub, stay on that side of the river and follow the Ouse Valley Way sign southwards beside the river, with fine views of the South Downs to the left.
- Go through two gates and along a farm track. In 80m, just past a disused barn, turn left past a gate and go over a concrete bridge to turn right on the other side.
- The path presently goes over a footbridge across another branch of the river and continues alongside the river past a large reservoir up to the left. In 800m cross another footbridge and soon go up steps and through a squeeze stile to come out on a lane. To the right can be seen the sluices and river pools of Barcombe Mills. Here you have two options.
- To continue along the Ouse Valley Way to Lewes, go to Option B: Alternative Route from Barcombe to Lewes along the Sussex Ouse Valley Way, at the end of the Main Walk directions.
- To continue on the main route, turn left on the lane and, just before it joins a road, fork left on a footpath to cross a car park and in 40m, go through two swing gates to cross a large field.
- Leave the field through a rusty swing gate, continue along a tarmac drive towards a pumping station and go through a kissing gate on the right. Keep the pumping station enclosure to the left, and as it bends left, turn right beside a wooden pylon pole, ignoring a metal fieldgate ahead.
- Cross the field to a redundant stile, then in 30m cross a grassy bank across a ditch and follow the right-hand edge of a field to pass through a kissing gate to reach the A26 main road.
- Cross the road with care and go up the drive of Clayhill House. Keeping to the left of the house and pond, take a grassy track which swings round to the right. Fork left to go through a new kissing gate and another further on to go up a wide grassy track between two fields (direction 140 °).
- Go past a trig point and through a wooden fieldgate. Ignore a new permissive path off to the left and continue towards a small wood, with a fence on your right; along the way you pass a dew pond on your left.
- Go through an area cleared of trees (with the wood on your left) to join a wider track to then cross a stile. Follow this potentially muddy path for 200m between hedges to go past a house on the right to continue on a tarmac lane towards Little Norlington. In 250 m at a T-junction you have two options:
- To skirt around the large village of Ringmer, go to Option A: Alternative Route avoiding Ringmer, at the end of the Main Walk directions.
- To continue on the Main Walk, turn right onto the quiet country lane. Follow this for 600m, eventually passing Norlington Gate Farm. 30m after the lane crosses a stream, turn left onto a short grassy track between a copse and a hedge.
- Go through a gap in the hedge by a footpath signpost, turn half-right and follow a clear path across fields for 600m, heading south, slightly to the right of the wind turbine in the distance.
- At a footpath junction cross a wooden railed footbridge through a gap in the hedge and continue in the same direction alongside a hedge. In 200m veer right through a gap in the hedge over a plank footbridge and turn left onto a short tarmac road (75m) on the outskirts of Ringmer.
- At a T-junction turn right onto Bishop’s Lane to come to a corner of the long village green. Bear left and go all the way across the green for 250m to the B2192, staying close to the lane on your left. The Anchor Inn is off to the right and there are bus stops here with frequent services to Lewes. Cross the busy road carefully and go past a Millennium clock tower into Springett Avenue, signposted to Village Shops.
- Follow this wide residential road for 600m as it bears right past a parade of shops, then later takes a long curve to the left.
- At a T-junction at the end of the road, cross over and take the footpath opposite (slightly to the right). Go through a wooden kissing gate and follow a grassy path across a field for 250m. Go through a gate in the hedge and bear right to cross a smaller field .
- In 125m go through a gate and continue uphill for 225m on a chalky path. Go through another gate and bear left up a grassy slope (with no clear path) towards the wind turbine. In 200m, as you reach the brow of the hill, go through a gate in the hedge onto a grassy area containing the Glyndebourne Wind Turbine and a large weathered timber pillar.
- Bear right to descend gradually over open turf alongside a hedge to the right and take a short path down to a stile. Cross the stile and a quiet road to go straight up a sunken rutted lane opposite (Week Lane). Near the top, look through a gap on the left for a view of the Glyndebourne opera house way below.
- Cross a stile beside a metal fieldgate (40m to the left, a footpath leads directly down to Glyndebourne). Ignoring the track ahead, fork right past a dewpond on a grassy path leading to the upper edge of a small wood.
- Go up past the wood to a signpost and enter the Southeram Nature Reserve. Follow a clear path above a deep depression (Bible Bottom) on the left. In 500m you go through a gate in a fence and the path forks, with the main path going straight on and a narrower path slightly to its right. leading in 300m to a stile onto Lewes Golf Course. The latter path is the official public footpath shown on the OS map, but it is easier to stay on the main grassy path which skirts the golf course and comes in 1.2km to the club house.
- Turn right through a wooden gate and go down the golf club’s access road, using the raised footpath to the left of the road for most of the way. This road later becomes a steep lane (Chapel Hill) as it descends into Cliffe.
- Cross the road at the bottom and go straight on. In 200m cross a bridge over the River Ouse. to enter Lewes along a pedestrianised street, where a range of refreshment places can be found. To go straight to the station turn left in 100m down Friars Walk, turning left again at its end. Or for more tea places continue up the main road ahead.
Option A: Alternative route avoiding Ringmer
- Cross the lane to go over a stile beside a metal field and follow the right-hand edge of a field. At the far side go through a kissing-gate into a wood and immediately fork right.
- Leave the wood through a kissing-gate, go straight on to another one, then follow the left-hand edge of a field and go through a kissing-gate to reach a road where you turn right.
- From this residential road at Broyle Side there is a bus service to Brighton (half-hourly Monday to Saturday; hourly Sunday).
- For a short-cut, saving 500m, continue straight down the road to a T-junction, turn right on the B2192, go straight on at a roundabout, and in 90m turn left up Chamberlaines Lane. [Continue at paragraph 8 below]
- In 300m turn right at a footpath signpost onto a path between houses. Go through a wooden kissing gate, turn left and follow a grassy path around the edge of the field for 150m to the far left-hand corner (although locals cut straight across the field to this point).
- Go through a gate in the hedge and turn half-left to go diagonally across a field for 250m, crossing a wide ditch in the middle. In the far corner go through another gate and bear left to follow a clear path across another large field for 400m. Go through a gap in the hedge and bear left.
- With the hedge on your left, follow it briefly round to the left and then veer right to go diagonally across a field for 250m (with no clear path and crossing a ditch in the middle) to the busy B2192.
- Go through a narrow gap in the hedge, turn left and go along the pavement for 250m, passing The Green Man pub on the left (and bus stops). Turn right into Chamberlaines Lane.
- Keep left at Chamberlaines Farm House, cross a stile beside a wooden fieldgate and bear left across a field, aiming to the left of a white house.
- Go over a stile and turn right on a lane (Potato Lane on the OS map). In 600m turn left at a signpost to Week Lane and follow the right–hand edge of a field.
- In 700m go through a small wood and up the right-hand edge of the next field that gradually steepens. Fork right near the top onto a path through a tunnel of overhanging trees and go up through a small wood.
- Fork right at a stone marker and continue to bend right past a brick cottage on the left as the path flattens out and runs under a canopy of trees.
- Go through a kissing-gate and continue slightly uphill with gaps in the hedge permitting fine views to the right over the Weald and distant hills. At the top of the hill is the Glyndebourne Wind Turbine and a large weathered timber pillar, with further fine views in all directions. [Continue at paragraph 41 of the Main Walk directions]
Option B: Alternative route from Barcombe to Lewes along the Sussex Ouse Valley Way
- Turn right onto the lane, as signposted. Follow the lane as it bends left and right [150m] across various mill streams, sluice gates, etc. Shortly after the last of these, turn left onto a track heading west and follow this for 250m to join a road.
- Continue in the same direction on the road (taking care as there is no pavement) for a further 250m, crossing the trackbed of the Uckfield-Lewes line (with a British Railways notice about flooding!) by the old Barcombe station buildings, now a private residence.
- Where the road turns sharply right, go over a stile on the left and take the leftmost of three footpaths, along a field edge and past a WW2 pillbox. Follow a clear path south-west across several stiles and footbridges for 400m, where you cross over the low embankment of another dismantled railway, between East Grinstead and Lewes. Continue for a further 150m to the edge of a large field.
- Turn half-right to go diagonally across this field for 225m, aiming just to the right of a house if there is no clear path. Go through a gate and keep ahead for 50m across a small field to the far corner, then along a short path past a house to come out on its driveway. Go along this for 50m to a crossing with a farm lane.
- The SOVW continues ahead but the following detour through the small village of Barcombe is recommended. Turn right onto the lane, then left at a T-junction. Continue past several large houses, then in 150m turn left into the short access road for the church of St Mary the Virgin, signposted as a public footpath. This passes a very picturesque house and garden, complete with a large pond and semi-detached duck-house.
- The continuation of the route is through a wooden fieldgate on the left at the start of the churchyard, so return to this point if you visit the church. Go through the fieldgate, across a small field, through another gate and across a second field [200m in total]. In the far corner cross a footbridge in a gap in the hedge to rejoin the SOVW.
- Go along a track for 600m, heading for the buildings of Cowlease Farm. Go past some barns and bear right to go past the right-hand side of the farmhouse. Continue in the same direction along a clear path for 400m to the start of a belt of trees.
- The right of way appears to be in a sunken path just inside the trees but it is much easier to continue along the field edge beside them. At some point in the next 200m or so veer right onto the path, which later goes between hedges [500m in total] and joins a green lane by a gate. Continue along this track for 150m to meet a lane.
- Turn left onto the lane and follow it through the small village of Hamsey, curving round to the left. In 300m the lane turns sharply right to go alongside a cut of the River Ouse. In a further 100m it comes to a junction.
- Go straight on at the junction onto a rough track, at first alongside the channel and later the main branch of the river, which you then simply follow all the way into Lewes. Looking back on your left you can see the isolated old church of St Peter, Hamsey, on a low hill.
- In 800m the river bends left in front of the main railway line, with Book 1’s Walk 29 (Hassocks-Lewes) joining from a path under the railway bridge. Continue along the riverside path for a further 1½ km to the outskirts of Lewes.
- Shortly before reaching a pedestrian footbridge across the river, veer right onto a path. In 75m this leads to a broad path going alongside a body of water for 150m, later with a swimming pool on the left.
- Where the channel turns sharply right, go straight on up St John’s Hill. In 100m veer left and right by the entrance to the church of St John sub Castro. Go along Abinger Place for 100m to its junction with the A1029.
- Cross this main road carefully and continue steeply up Castle Banks opposite. At the top bear right past a viewpoint with an information panel about the Battle of Lewes (1264). Follow the lane as it curves left past a bowling green, down through the medieval Barbican and past the ruins of Lewes Castle to the High Street.
- Turn left onto the main road, coming in 100m to the White Hart Hotel on the right. Continue down the High Street to find further tea places. Turn right at the main crossroads to reach Lewes station.