A walk of superb sea views and and rolling downland clifftops, with the initial section covering the high Downs on the edge of Eastbourne. It’s then westwards towards Beachy Head, 500 feet above the sea, and onwards to Belle Tout lighthouse high up on the clifftop.
Belle Tout was built in 1832 but decommissioned in 1902 when the new Beachy Head lighthouse was built at the base of the cliffs. During World War II, Belle Tout was damaged when Canadian troops used it as target practice. In 1999, due to continuing erosion threatening the future of the building the lighthouse was moved 17 metres (56 feet) back from the edge of the cliff.
From the lighthouse, it’s down to Birling Gap, a small settlement crumbling into the sea, but you should be able to visit the National Trust cafe as long as the sea has not made any further inroads!
From Birling Gap, it’s inland towards East Dean, where you can stop off at the picturesque Tiger Inn or the Hikers Rest Tea Room, situated on the traffic-free village green, where you can get a bus or walk back to the start.
pub and tea rooms in Alfriston, Seven Sisters Visitor Centre and Litlington.
riverside, quiet roads and downland walking with several stiles and short steep climbs
accessible by bus
A varied walk which takes in the historic downland village of Alfriston, the River Cuckmere, Friston Forest, the hidden flintstone village of West Dean, and the small attractive village of Litlington, where there is a choice of two good places to stop for refreshments – the Plough and Harrow pub and Litlington Tea Gardens (summer only).
Along the way, you’ll also visit the hill of High’n’Over, known for its White Horse (an impressive but relatively recent creation) carved into the hillside on the way up. During the 19th century, the horse was cut into the downs to the west of the village, replacing an earlier one known to have been present from some years earlier. From the top of the hill, there are fine views over the Cuckmere River, Friston Forest and the village of Litlington.
4-5 miles, 2 to 2-and-a-half hours, moderate walking
pubs and tea rooms in Alfriston, and the picturesque Cricketers in Berwick and Rose Cottage Inn in Alciston, just off the main trail
accessible by bus
This walk starts in Alfriston within the South Downs National Park where you can also visit the National Trust’s first property, acquired in 1896, the 14th century Alfriston Clergy House. Heading north, you reach the downland village of Berwick where the cottage style Cricketers pub makes a good stop as does a visit to the church for a look at the murals by Bloomsbury Group artists. There are fine views later in the walk over Alfriston and the spire of St Andrew’s Church, known as the ‘Cathedral of the Downs’.
An undulating walk on to the South Downs around Hove taking in the Benfield Hill Nature Reserve. Good under foot with far reaching views, there’s lots to enjoy. The walks starts and ends at The Hangleton Manor, an old manor house, now a a pub and a grade II listed building – the the oldest domestic secular building in Brighton & Hove dating back to the 1500s. This makes the Hangleton the ideal location for a short pub walk with the option of a pint and bite to eat before or after a walk up to the Downs above Hove.
The Slindon Estate, 7 miles from Chichester and managed by the National Trust, is an impressive 1,400 hectares of woodland, downland, farmland, and parkland. it includes the very attractive flint village of Slindon itself with lovely houses and a fine setting at the foot of the South Downs. Two walks are offered here to make the most of it.
This Guardian walk, featured in its Great British Walks Guide in 2012, captures the grand scale and variety of the Estate. Beginning at the village, it heads north towards Bignor Hill, through sun-dappled woodland, and down the route of the famous old Roman road of Stane Street past fields of downland sheep. The route’s description leaves something to be desired, so make sure you have an OS map with you (and it’s probably best working out the route in advance on the OS map). You’ll probably go wrong otherwise, particularly as some steps seem to be missing i.e. getting from Stane Street to the 6 Posts sign!
The shorter AA walk provides an easier woodland walk, but still offers some fine views.
Note that the Newburgh Arms, mentioned in the AA walk, is now sadly shut. The Spur, a traditional pub with a skittle alley, is a detour away along the A29. The village also lost its post office and shop in recent years, but a a new community shop and licensed cafe opened in 2012 at the Slindon Forge in Reynolds Lane, going away from the village towards the A29.
10 miles, 5 hours, with a shorter option for a 2.5 mile Amberley Walk.
downland walking, no stiles, some gates
plenty of pubs and a tea room at Amberley and by Houghton Bridge near the station, plus The George at Burpham.
accessible by bus and train
This is an area of fine downland walking with river valley views, and picturesque villages. The popular pub, The George in the attractive village of Burpham (Local tip: Burpham is pronounced ‘Burrfam’) makes a convenient stopping point at about the halfway mark. Amberley village is a little detour but is a picture postcard village of thatched flint cottages.
Amberley Museum and Heritage Centre, near the start/finish of the walk, is a 36 acre open air museum dedicated to the industrial heritage of the south east. The main chalk quarry at the museum is famous for being the location of the mine in the James Bond film View to Kill. The Bridge Inn and Riverside Cafe Bar are at the start/finish of the walk situated by the river.
Note that Amberley Station is at Houghton Bridge, a 15 minute walk away from the village. To visit the extremely attractive and mostly traffic-free village, you’ll need to detour from the main walk or you could do the short walk instead or if you’re feeling fit, add it on to the main walk.
variety of walking routes to choose from – regular and Nordic – about 2.2 miles to 5.8 miles
fairly flat with some inclines
pub, tea room and toilets in Stanmer village. Pub at Falmer.
accessible by bus and train
A choice of walks starting in Stanmer Park. Stanmer is a beautiful downland park containing the grade I listed Stanmer House (now partly a pub), the flintstone Stanmer Church, a pond and a quiet village street cut off from the world with a good value tea shop. The walks take you through Stanmer Great Wood and onto the South Downs. Free guided weekly walks also available.
The Nordic Walks are three starter trails are available for beginners to learn Nordic Walking on accredited courses.
Some parts of the first health walk are suitable for wheelchair/buggy. Disabled parking and accessible toilet available.
Mostly flat or surfaced but check individual routes, no stiles or steps
Facilities vary according to individual walks
some walks accessible by bus
West Sussex County Council have produced an excellent booklet on Easy Access Trails in West Sussex. The walks are suitable for all including wheelchair and pushchair users, families, children with scooters, and less mobile people. Featured walks include Pagham Harbour, Arundel Park, Chichester Harbour, Chichester Canal, Southwater Country Park and Ardingly Reservoir. Many make excellent short walks, and are good options for winter walks. The booklet has very good maps and route descriptions to help you on your way.
2 and a half miles one way from Chichester to Lavant or 5 mile return
2.8 miles extra to walk on to West Dean making the whole walk just over 5 miles one way
Mostly flat, tarmacked or with compacted stone
pubs at Lavant, West Dean, and in Chichester, a mile from the route’s start.
accessible by bus and train – extra 1 mile walk to/from railway station
The Centurion Way is a route for cyclists and walkers between Chichester and West Dean. The route is along the old Chichester to Midhurst Railway which opened in 1881 to improve access to London. The railway’s decline started with the withdrawal of passenger services in 1935 and the line north of Lavant was closed completely in 1957.The section between Lavant and Chichester was used for the transportation of sugar beet and gravel. However, this ceased in 1991 and the tracks were removed in 1993. Two years later, the first stretch of the Centurion Way opened,the name suggested by a local schoolboy and is based on the fact that the path crosses the course of a Roman road. There are sculptures along the route relating to local history.