Firle & The South Downs (Fancy Free Walks, PDF)
- 10 miles, 16k (Fancy Free walk), 9.3 miles (Guardian Walk)
- Two good pubs on first walk – The Ram Inn at Firle and the Rose Cottage Inn at Alciston. Tea room at Firle Place with limited open hours (open when house is open).
- Second walk: good choice of pubs and cafes in Alfriston if visited plus Cricketers’ Arms in Berwick,
- moderate walking
- accesible by the Downsman bus (not Sundays) serving Lewes, Firle, Polegate & Eastbourne
These are two terrific walks over the best of the South Downs near Lewes in East Sussex with contrasting sections through picturesque downland villages giving you a chance to see or visit some historic houses. Charleston House has important literary connections with the Bloomsbury Group and is full of artworks from the early 1900s. Firle Place is a stately home going back to early Tudor times. Up on the downs, it is a walk eastwards along the ridge with views of the sea to your right and the weald to your left, passing Firle Beacon, the highest point of the Downs between Brighton and Eastbourne.
In Berwick, The Cricketers’ Arms is an extremely attractive flint stone cottage with a lovely garden, whilst its church contains the hand-painted murals of Bloomsbury artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, who lived in nearby Charleston Farm House.
For a slighty shorter walk (missing out Alciston), opt for the Fancy Free Walk and take a path on the left shortly after Firle Beacon, and heads towards Charleston House.