A Compendium of Sussex Walks

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Alfriston and the River Cuckmere

Church of St. Andrew, Alfriston, England Crop - May 2009

Alfriston and the River Cuckmere (South Downs National Park, PDF)

  • 6.4 miles, 10.3k with shorter circular options
  • 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

buscup of tea

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.

For an alternative walk in the area, you could try the National Trust’s Over Hill and Under Vale at Frog Firle Farm.

Alfriston Clergy House Walk

Alfriston Clergy House

Alfriston Clergy House Walk (National Trust)

  • 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

buscup of teahistoric attraction

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’.

Birling Gap Walk from the Tiger Inn

Tiger Inn, East Dean
Birling Gap from the Tiger Inn (National Trust)

buscup of tea

The short 3 mile circular walk starts from The Tiger Inn at East Dean in East Sussex, a wonderfully situated pub on a traffic-free village green.  On this walk, you still walk down to the coast but after a short coastal stretch you turn back inland (avoiding the challenge of walking the Seven Sisters but getting the view). Great downland and coastal views.

What remains of the small settlement at Birling Gap is crumbling into the sea but you should be able to visit the cafe as long as the sea has not made any further inroads!

Birling Gap

The last of the Coastguard Cottages, Birling Gap

The alternative walk is longer with some short steep ascents along the coast as you tackle the start of the Seven Sisters.

For a more challenging walk in this great area for walking, try the Friston Forest and the Seven Sisters Walk which takes in all the Seven Sisters.

Friston Forest and the Seven Sisters

Friston Forest and the Seven Sisters (National Trails)

  • 8 miles/13km
  • Steep ascents and descents
  • pubs at East Dean and Exceat Bridge, cafes at Birling Gap and Exceat

Seven Sistes from Cuckmere Haven Beach

buscup of tea

Having walked this route recently, this is one of the most challenging walks in Sussex, but it well worth it thanks to the wonderful coastal views. It also passes through Friston Forest and the perfectly preserved downland hamlet of West Dean. The Tiger Inn at East Dean is a wonderfully situated pub on the traffic-free village green.

The walk can be walked in either direction. The prevailing winds are south westerley, along the coast from west to east. If it’s a cold windy day and this is the case, you might do best walking down the Cuckmere Valley first to the coast, and then onto Birling Gap and back through the Forest. Look out for the wind effect on hill-top hawthorn bushes and trees.

Walks near Amberley

Amberley Castle

Driveway (private) to Amberley Castle

Walks near Amberley (PDF – southdowns.gov.uk)

  • 2.5 miles, 1.5 to 2 hours
  • some stiles, can be boggy in wetter months
  • two pubs in Amberley
  • accessible by bus and train

traincup of tea

A short walk starting and finishing in Amberley, a chocolate box village with many old buildings, thatched cottages, a castle, a church, two pubs and a shop. There is also a working pottery. The walk is mainly flat and takes in Amberley Wild Brooks, a large area of flood meadows, one of the richest wetlands remaining in the UK.

The Black Horse’s Copsale and Nuthurst Walk

Black Horse Inn Nuthurst East Sussex England
Copsale and Nuthurst Walks (Black Horse Inn Walk No.4, PDF)

  • 8 miles
  • mostly level
  • two pubs on route

cup of tea

A walk through woods, farms and fields taking in the villages of Copsale and Nuthurst, south of Horsham. The walk used to pass two  pubs, The Bridge House Inn in Copsale, and  the 17th century Black Horse Inn in Nuthurst. The former is no more and has apparently been demolished, though you may still spot the pub sign! The walk finishes on a short stretch of the Downs Link path on a disused railway. The Black Horse Inn grew out of three cottages built for estate workers attached to Sedgewick Park, a nearby hunting lodge used by Henry VIII.

The pub has more walks on its website.

View Google map of Copsale and Nuthurst.

Black Rabbit Arundel Pub Walk

Arundel Castle

Black Rabbit Walk (Hall & Woodhouse, PDF)

  • 3 miles
  •  starts and finishes at the pub
  • accessible by bus
  • train – combine with Walks in Arundel for longer walk, extending to Arundel

cup of tea

Follows the course of the Arun River from the riverside Black Rabbit pub along a raised bank to the small hamlet of South Stoke and d return enjoying quiet lanes and good views water meadows and towards Arundel Castle.This is one of Hall and Woodhouse’s Public House Walks.

Black Rabbit pub near Arundel

Plumpton Walk – Hattons Green, South Chailey and Yokehurst Place

Hattons Green, South Chailey and Yokehurst Place (PDF, Plumpton Village Action Plan Walk 1)

  • 4 miles.
  • some stiles, mainly flat
  • pubs in Plumpton
  • accessible by bus (not Sundays) and train


buscup of tea

A lovely, circular, wooded walk to the north east of Plumpton Green, starting and finishing at Plumpton Station, a few miles away from Lewes. Passing via Hattons Green, South Chailey and Yokehurst Place, it is mostly across fields, with some farm tracks and short stretches along roads.

For more Plumpton walks in this series, see the Walk Plumpton, Plumpton Parish Council.

Walks in and around Ditchling

Ditchling Walks

Ditchling Village Green
  • 3 short walks of about one hour, can be combined for longer walks.
  • some stiles, mainly flat
  • pubs and tea rooms in Ditchling and Keymer

cup of tea

These three short walks start from the village green of Ditchling, a historic downland village near Lewes, with Ditchling Beacon, the highest point on the South Downs, as its backdrop. The first walk takes you across fields and past the fine restored windmill,  Oldland Mill. You may want a half-way drink in the Thatched Inn in Keymer. There are fine views towards the downs. The second walk takes you down an old Sussex ‘green lane’ and past some of Ditchling’s fine old houses. The third walk takes you to the village playground, a good way for parents to combine a short walk with children.

The walk descriptions are a little dated, but any changes are largely cosmetic. For example, Dolly’s Pantry is now known as Ditchling Tea Rooms, and Chesterton’s is no more. The tea rooms still make a good stop as does The Bull or The White Horse.

Forest Way Circular Walks


Forest Way Circular Walks (PDF, Metrobus)

  • 10 miles with a number of shorter circular options from 2 and a half miles.
  • flat, surfaced and accessible track – good for buggies and wheelcahirs
  • pubs and tea rooms along the route at Forest Row,  Hartfield and Groombridge, toilets in Forest Row and Groombridge
  • accessible by bus

disabled access signtrainbuscup of teaflowercycle

The Forest Way (PDF leaflet, east Sussex County Council), a cycling, horse-riding and walking route, is approximately 10 miles long and runs along an old railway line from East Grinstead to Groombridge. The Park lies within the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and passes through or close to East Grinstead, Forest Row, Hartfield, Withyham and Groombridge. The Forest Way is accessible for people with disabilities. Part of the National Cycle Network. Combine a walk with a visit to the beautiful ‘enchanted’ gardens at Groombridge Place.

Bus company, Metrobus, have produced an excellent Forest Way Circular Walks leaflet (PDF) showing the whole route with its circular options and marking on all the many pubs along the way as well as the bus stops for the 291 bus from East Grinstead to Tunbridge Wells.

The western end of the Forest Way links up with the Worth Way which extends to Three Bridges. See the Metrobus Countryside Walks page for two futher walks along the Worth Way.

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