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This Week's Walks - Archive

Please see the Saturday Walker's Club This Week's Walks page.

This is an archive of walks done by the Saturday Walker's Club. You should only need to use this page if the SWC website is down.

Blog Archive

Saturday, 20 August 2016

First walk - a South Downs and seaside classic

Book 1 Walk 31 - Glynde to Seaford
Length: 23km (14.3 miles) - 16.8km (10.4 miles) with bus from Exceat
Toughness: 8 out of 10

9.47 train from Victoria (9.53 Clapham Junction, 10.03 East Croydon) to Lewes, changing there (arrive 10.47, depart 11.09) for Glynde, arriving 11.14.

** In the event of train disruption, the 9.50 to Brighton also offers a tight connection to the Glynde train (arrive 10.46, depart 10.52). If the Glynde train is cancelled, you could see what a taxi would charge (it is not far) or walk from Lewes: eg see Book 2, walk 25, which covers similar territory and which you could bring with you as back up

Buy a day return to Seaford.

For walk directions click here

*** Last minute weather update: given high winds forecast for today, particularly on the south coast, it could be very blowy up on the downs. An alternative would be to stay below the escarpment in the morning, which might be a bit more sheltered. This document has a route from the Ram Inn in West Firle (reached fairly early in this walk), along the bottom of the South Downs, passing Charleston (summer home of the Bloomsbury set and worth a visit) to Berwick Church (decorated by the Bloomsbury set). If you then take the footpath running south (towards the downs) from Berwick Church, that brings you in a mile or so to Alfriston, the lunch village for Book 1, Walk 31. In the afternoon, book 1 walk 31 is less exposed, but an even more sheltered option might be to simply to follow the path along the Cuckmere River from Alfriston to Exceat, which sticks to the west (and hopefully less windy) side of the valley. From Exceat there are buses to Seaford (providing these are running in the high winds...) Note that all Saturday walks are AT YOUR OWN RISK. Please make your own judgement about the advisability of walking based on published weather forecasts).

If trains to the coast are seriously disrupted due to high winds, meet at Costa Coffee alongside platform 7 at Victoria at 9.50 and we will make other plans.

There have been rumblings in the comments section that we are doing "too many winter walks" this summer. Well, here is a summer classic, which oddly does not seem to have had an outing since April 2015. In the days when there was only book one, it was considered the SWC's favourite walk.

Don't be put off by the length. This is grand scenery and the miles fly by. In the morning you cross a valley and climb up onto the South Downs then walk a glorious stretch of downland to lunch in picturesque Alfriston (lots of options - pubs, tea rooms etc). You then follow the Cuckmere River for a stretch and cross hills to Exceat, for tea at the Saltmarsh Cafe. From there there is a lovely walk down to Cuckmere Haven and over Seaford Head to the best fish and chips on the walk (The Trawlers, just by Seaford station).

If all that is too much joy for one day (or if the winds look to be too strong, as the last section of the walk is very exposed), you can take the very frequent number 12 bus from Exceat to Seaford, shortening the walk to 16.8km (10.4 mile) option. But you miss some very beautiful scenery.

Trains back from Seaford are at 25 and 57 till 19.25, changing at Lewes. After this the 19.57 and 20.57 require a change at Brighton, which is not much quicker than waiting for the 20.28 or 21.28 past, changing at Lewes. After that, there is the 22.20, changing at Lewes which you will share with dinner-jacketed audience members coming back from Glyndebourne. T=1.31


Anonymous said...

Thanks Walker, great suggestions. I may be going mad but Accuweather doesn't seem to have the strong gusts that the BBC weather forecast shows. The storm is due in at 2am and so will have hopefully have abated before we are out on our respective walks.

Walker said...

Cross fingers!

I am possibly starting to get a cold, so may not be able to come with maps tomorrow after all. I will see how I feel....

Let's hope both storms and virus blow through quickly....

Anonymous said...

I'm going whatever the weather. If trains are disrupted, I won't be at Victoria as I live south of the river and get on the train en route so I'll get the next one and continue on the Glynde to Seaford walk.

Walker said...

Actually, famous last words, but the bug seems to be going away again. I am feeling a lot better than I did at lunch time. So while I am not definitely Main Engines Start on this one, I am certainly resuming countdown. Latest BBC weather forecast I have seen says "blustery" but not "damaging gusts", but check for yourself.

Walker said...

N=20 on this walk despite the dire forecast. It was lashing with rain on the train down but once we got off it was w=very-windy-but-also-reasonably-sunny and the only rain was a brief intense shower at tea time.

There was some discussion about whether to go up on the South Downs ridge, given the wind, but SWC walkers are made of stern stuff and most (all?) of us did. It was indeed very windy but steadily so rather than gusty, and not enough to impede walking. I will put a video on our Facebook page to show what it was like.

A few had lunch in the George in Alfriston, some had sandwiches in the dhurchyard: not sure what the rest did. In the afternoon the walk to Exceat was more sheltered. Three of us got to tea at the Saltmarsh only to be told as soon as we sat down that the owner had told them to shut due to high winds to come.

We joined others in the Cuckmere Inn just down the road and there was some consideration of the possible dangers of crossing Seaford Head in the high winds, but in the end a lot of us did so anyway. The wind came and went at first but on the top it did indeed get very tricky, with gusts intense enough to stop us in our tracks at times. I worried about getting blown over. Small bits of chalk from the clifftop also flew into us at times, something I have never experienced before. We survived, though, and descending to the seafront at Seaford met with an extraordinary scene: huge waves - 2 metres plus - the golden late afternoon sun misted with sea spray, darker clouds to the west. Unforgettable.

We went inland to have chips but most decided when they got there that they were not hungry and rushed to the train station. Two of us persuaded the Trawlers to let us jump the queue so we could get our takeaway and still make the same train, the 6.28 But getting to the platform with two minutes to spare we saw the 6.25 (for such it was: my mistake) pulling out. So dinner on a platform bench and then the usual Southern saga on the way home - train delayed at Haywards Heath because the connection was 25 minutes late, switch to a Thameslink train, change at East Croydon yadda yadda....

Anonymous said...

Sitting eating lunch near the church, I somehow managed to miss the later group leaving at lunchtime so did the second half of the walk on my own. I managed not to get blown into the sea (luckily the wind was blowing me inland, rather than towards the cliff) but it was hard work walking against it. Nonetheless, the views were as lovely as ever and it was at least warm and dry. I got the 19.25 train from Seaford. I heard rumour that a few sensible walkers did the lowland morning route via Charlston Farmhouse and Berwick Church. It sounds very nice and I've noted it for future windy days.

Anonymous said...

Five opted for the valley route to morning tea and cake at Charleston farmhouse, lunch at the Cricketers Arms in Berwick, and afternoon tea at Badgers in Alfriston, with yet more cake (but sadly not the Victoria sponge cake with gooseberry jam for which they are rightly famed). Slow bus from Exeat to Brighton Station for four, meeting the fifth again, on the 7.18 Gatwick Express, he having managed to fit in at least one train journey and an alleged rendezvous in Lewes with the main group, since going awol at Exeat. Amazing. Less than optimal on the swimming but a grand day out.