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Quiet fields before lunch, the Test Way (a long, open, ridgewalk, potentially muddy), and a pretty forest walk to return to pretty, canalside Bedwyn.
Berkshire TOCW Book 2, Walk 9 • Toughness: 5/10 • Length: 12 miles (21 km)
Though only an hour west of London by train, this walk has a decidedly West Country feel, far removed from the more manicured charms of the Home Counties. In the morning, it passes through an idyllic series of woods and pastures, with largely gentle gradients. After lunch at a quiet country pub in Inkpen (the sort of place where the conversation at the bar is as likely to be about farming than the price of second homes), it then climbs up onto a long ridge, giving views as dramatic, but even more unspoiled, than any on the South Downs. The rest of the walk follows the Test Way, a broad track along the top of this ridge, before descending to the valley and the pretty village of Great Bedwyn.
The Ridgeway, lovely views and the Chilterns.
Buckinghamshire TOCW Book 1, Walk 52 • Toughness: 6/10 • Length: 10 miles (17 km)
The best walk in the book! A South Downs ridge, picture postcard Alfriston, Cuckmere Haven (beach), and cliffs with views of the Seven Sisters. Long but worth it.
East Sussex TOCW Book 1, Walk 31 • Toughness: 8/10 • Length: 14 miles (23 km)
Everyone's favourite walk in the book. It starts with a South Downs Ridge walk. Lunch is in the picturesque village of Alfriston. After lunch there is Cuckmere Haven (a pretty river valley), and a coastal cliff walk into Seaford. You can swim at Cuckmere Haven or Seaford.
Near the start, the route goes through Firle Park and then follows the South Downs Way for much of the day, with not as much climbing as Walk 25's arduous route into Hastings, and with marvellous views across the lush valleys to the north and down to the sea. There are three lovely villages to enjoy during the course of the day, all with open churches: West Firle, West Dean, and (the suggested lunchstop) the old smuggling village of Alfriston, which likes to call its church a cathedral.
There is slightly further to walk after lunch than before it. From Alfriston the route follows the riverbank through the Cuckmere Valley and through Friston Forest down to Exceat, an extinct village on the edge of the Seven Sisters Country Park, where there is a Visitors’ Centre. The Vanguard Way then leads through the Seaford Head Nature Reserve – hoopoe, bluethroat and wryneck have been seen here – to the beach at Cuckmere Haven. This is in season a good enough place to take a dip or just to enjoy a front-stalls view of the white cliffs of the Seven Sisters.
Finally there is a walk along the coastal path and down into Seaford, a seaside town with a long esplanade and reconstructed shingle beach.
A South Downs ridge walk ... maximum view for minimum effort, with historic Lewes to finish.
East Sussex TOCW Book 1, Walk 29 • Toughness: 4/10 • Length: 11 miles (18 km)
This is an exhilarating walk along the South Downs Way, a ridge of South Downs chalk grassland with panoramic views inland and out to the sea by Brighton.
On the way up to the ridge, the route passes Butcher's Wood and visits a church in Clayton and a still-working Clayton Windmill. The friends of Jack and Jill windmill sometimes serve tea on weekends.
On the South Downs Way you pass medieval dew ponds and an Iron Age fort at Ditchling Beacon. After lunch, down below in Plumpton, you climb back up onto the downs, before a final walk into Lewes along the River Ouse, then up to the Norman castle and through its gateway into the ancient High Street.
This is an easier walk, with far fewer ups and downs, than Walk 25 from Winchelsea to Hastings.
Its a great picnic walk, as the pub is at the bottom of the ridge, and it would save you descending from the ridge to the pub, then climbing back up again afterwards
An energetic walk over the South Downs with great views, 3 hills, 3 pubs, and a ridge.
East Sussex SWC Walk 47 • Toughness: 7/10 • Length: 14 miles (24 km)
This is an energetic walk (550 metres or 1,600 feet of ascent) over three distinct downland ridges, with magnificent views throughout. One of the pleasures of the walk is that the entire route is in view for much of the walk, so you can look back at the terrain you have already done or ahead to the delights to come. Navigation is easy, the walking is over wide and distinct paths, and while there are three substantial climbs, most of the walk is flat, gently undulating or downhill.
As well as plenty of grand downland walking, the route includes a start and finish in historic Lewes, quaint corners of which you see both at the start and end of the walk, an optional detour to Mount Caburn (Iron Age fort) with its dramatic viewpoint of the whole circuit, and the pleasant small village of Glynde. You also pass the remote station of Southease, with its YHA cafe nearby.
The walk passes 3 good pubs, and 3 train stations on the way (between the 3 hills, so if you want to drop out, its quite easy). You can do the walk either clockwise or anticlockwise, and directions are given for both in the attached pdf
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
East Sussex TOCW Book 2, Walk 24 • Toughness: 4/10 • Length: 9 miles (16 km)
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 , 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 , 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.
Both these options use the fine downland start of the main walk, which climbs from Lewes to the South Downs ridge, with magnificent views across the plains of the river Ouse.
2 Long Ridge walks over open downs, beautiful Alfriston for lunch, and Eastbourne pier and prom. to finish.
East Sussex SWC Walk 25 • Toughness: 7/10 • Length: 16 miles (27 km)
This walk along the South Downs Way (SDW) consists of 2 spectacular ridge walks with a picturesque village in the middle for lunch and Eastbourne promenade, beach and pier to finish. Its a long (so summer only) but very rewarding walk. The route is well waymarked, the paths are easy walking, and the route is easy to follow. The South Downs are treeless and open, so there are good views throughout.
The walk starts in Southease, right on the SDW, and climbs the first ridge straight away, up to Firle Beacon. There is an alternate start in Glynde in case the trains to Southease don't line up.
At the end of ridge is Alfriston, a pretty village in a pretty valley with a village green dominated by a large church. 2 good pubs and a village shop to choose from for lunch.
After lunch, follow the northern leg of the SDW up and over Wilmington Hill to Jevington (pub) before a final climb to head south along another ridge towards the coast.
Rather than follow the offical SDW route downhill, continue on to the coast, then follow the 'other' leg of the SDW down in to Eastbourne. Follow the prom for a swim in the sea and chips by the pier.
A tranquil walk along the North Downs
Kent SWC Walk 1 • Toughness: 3/10 • Length: 8 miles (13 km)
A large section of the walk is to the north side of the North Downs Way and passes along some little used footpaths, making for a tranquil walk. Its attractions include the pretty hamlet of Stalisfield Green for lunch and the historic village of Charing for tea. Some of the stiles along the route are poorly maintained and consequently this walk is not suitable for the less able walker. In summer the footpath across a couple of the rape seed fields can become very overgrown.
Pretty Ridge Walk along the North Downs Way with lovely views. Nice pubs for lunch and tea
Kent SWC Walk 24 • Toughness: 6/10 • Length: 12 miles (21 km)
This lovely walk follows one of the finest sections of the North Downs Way (NDW) along the edge of the North Downs escarpement – in many ways it feels more like the South Downs - with fine views for nearly the whole walk. There is just one 3km (1.8 mile) section mid afternoon when you are away from the escarpment edge.
While the North Downs Way is waymarked, it is not always comprehensively so, and in places the waymarks are confusing or missing. The path is not always as obvious as one might expect from such a major long distance footpath. Hence the directions in the pdf version of this walk - see the DOWNLOAD WALK button above. While they for the most part follow the North Downs Way once it has climbed from Sandling up onto the ridge, the creation of access land has also opened up some escarpment sections that were formerly off limits to walkers, and where these improve the walk they have been included in the walk directions.
There is also a map-only version of the directions (see bottom of this page) for those that prefer this.
While downland can be relatively dry in winter, this walk does have several sections on shady tracks that look potentially very muddy between November and March. In late spring there can be intense displays of buttercups on this walk.
Follows the South Downs Way along the ridge of the South Downs. Good views in the morning, a forested trail in the afternoon (travel by bus).
West Sussex SWC Walk 33 • Toughness: 3/10 • Length: 12 miles (20 km)
This is a ridge walk along the South Downs Way (SDW) along a good, easy to follow path. There are fine views in the moring. The afternoon is forested, so even though you're on top of the ridge, its like walking along a forested trail. There might be better views in winter
At Coking its a (regular) bus ride to Chichester. Or stay overnight, and continue along the SDW towards Petersfield
There are no pubs or other refreshment stops on this walk
If you walk in ther other direction, there is a nice pub in Amberley to finish in.
A ridge walk along the South Downs Way, passing Chanctonbury Ring.
West Sussex SWC Walk 26 • Toughness: 5/10 • Length: 14 miles (24 km)
This walk, which can be done in either direction, follows the South Downs Way (SDW). The route follows the crest of South Downs Ridge with good views in both directions, It passes Chanctonbury Ring, a ring of trees planted on the remains of an ancient Hill Fort. This spot has a beautiful 360° views, and is the recommended picnic spot.
Apart from the endings in Lancing or Shoreham, the route is very well way-marked. All the paths are wide, easy to walk on, and easy to follow. The route is almost entirely over an open, treeless, chalk ridge, which is very exposed in bad or windy weather.
At the half way point, there is a break in the ridge, where the route crosses a busy A Road. There is a longer 'via Washington alternative' which avoids this crossing, and passes a walker friendly pub.
This walk can be done with the help of an OS map (or by printing the map segments), but the instructions below alone are sufficient.