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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.

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Saturday, 17 June 2017

Newhaven Harbour to Alfriston or Berwick - from the sea to the downs

SWC walk 90d (with a twist) - Newhaven Harbour to Alfriston or Berwick
Length: 15.3km (9.5 miles) or 20.6km (12.8 miles)
Toughness: 5 out of 10: basically level but with two big hill climbs

9.47 train from Victoria (9.53 Clapham Junction, 10.03 East Croydon) to Lewes, arriving 10.47, changing there for the 10.57 (Seaford-bound) train to Newhaven Harbour (not Newhaven Town!!) arriving 11.08.

Buy a day return to Newhaven Harbour, unless you plan to take the bus from Alfriston to Seaford (see below) in which case a day return to Seaford (Sussex) is in order.

** Please note that if the forecast for the weekend is good, Victoria is likely to be very busy with people going to Brighton or Eastbourne: get there early to buy your ticket, or better still buy it the day before (which you can do from Southern ticket machines, as far as I can remember)

For walk directions click here: you only need pages 1-4 (for the tea stop info etc) and 12-14 (for the walk directions).

I am aware this walk post may look like a bit of a mouthful, but it is actually a simple and easy walk with no great route finding challenges.

This is the popular Berwick to Seaford walk, but done backwards - an option that has only ever had one outing way back in 2011, even though full directions for it exist. In this direction you start by the sea, and then head inland to the downs and the excellent tea options in Alfriston.

As an extra twist I thought we might go off piste a little and start from Newhaven Harbour station. There are several reasons for this: 1) to avoid our Spanish dopelgangers 'Senderismo en Londres' who will be on the same train but starting at Seaford, 2) to give the train crew a heart attack - no one ever gets off at Newhaven Harbour, and 3) because it adds a very pretty section to the walk.

So, you get off at Newhaven Harbour, the second Newhaven station (Newhaven Town is the first). Coming out of the station turn right to pick up the path along the left-hand side of Mill Creek (the former course of the River Ouse, cut off when Newhaven Harbour was built). Follow this out across the marshes, past the site of the former Tide Mills (with the old Bishopstone station platforms to your left) and on to Seaford. This route is very clear and easy to follow.

It is 1.5 miles to the outskirts of Seaford. Once there you follow the seafront promenade eastwards for another mile. If the day is fine and the sea not choppy, you may want to have a brief sea swim here: it is a gently shelving shingle beach. The water is about 15 degrees at present - chilly but not ridiculously so. An early lunch in Seaford is not impossible: the beachfront cafe just beyond the Martello Tower is a nice spot.

At the Martello Tower, pick up the walk directions at paragraph 139 (page 12). It is 3.5 miles from here over lovely Seaford Head and down to Cuckmere Haven (where the tide will alas not be high enough for swimming till 2pm or so) and on inland to the Cuckmere Inn, the later lunch stop (6.2 miles into the walk). It is a busy pub but they do food all afternoon and arriving a bit later than normal lunch time might even be an advantage.

From the Cuckmere Inn it is a 3.3 mile walk inland up over magnificent High & Over Hill (you have to do something to earn that cream cake) to Alfriston, which has nice tea rooms if you can get to them in time. (Otherwise the George Inn has a nice garden).

You can finish the walk in Alfriston (making a walk of 15.3km/9.5 miles) by taking the Cuckmere Valley Ramblerbus (route 47) from the main square to Seaford. This runs at 30 past the hour until 17.30. Once in Seaford you could even pop down to the beach for a second swim or go to our favourite fish and chip shop, The Trawlers, by the station.

Trains from Seaford go at 25 and 57 past until 19.57, then 20.28, 20.57, 21.28, 22.20, changing in Lewes for London except on the 20.57 when you have to go via Brighton.

Or you can walk on from Alfriston to Berwick - 3.2 miles, the 20.6km/12.8 mile version of the walk - passing the lovely Cricketers Pub on the way (which has a nice garden for having dinner in). The Berwick Arms by Berwick station is also quite nice and you can sit in its garden with your pint and wait for the train since you have time to cross the road to the platform once the level crossing barriers come down.

Trains back from Berwick are at 17 past, getting to Lewes at 28 past. Despite what the online timetable says it is no slower and much pleasanter to change here and wait for the 54 past trains to London than to go into Brighton and change onto crowded trains full of day trippers.

A day return to Newhaven Harbour will probably be accepted from Berwick, but if not, you will only need to add a single from Berwick to Lewes where the two lines join.


MoonBrain said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MoonBrain said...

You might consider extending your walk to Saltdean today for the chance to swim in the lido.
Details and tickets can be found here

Walker said...

n=25 on this walk. Once we had disentangled ourselves from the somewhat changed layout at Newhaven Harbour station, we had a nice walk along the creek (the old course of the River Ouse) and out past the site of the former Tide Mills to the beach and Seaford. There the w=blazing-hot-sun and blue sea was just too much for eight of us, who went for a swim: the water being less gelid than expected, its upper layer warmed by the sun. I think we all stayed in longer than we thought we would.

All but one of the non-swimmers had gone on ahead - I hope they file their own report. For the swimmers there was a strong temptation just to stay on the beach in the sun, but we carried on, via a brief pause to look at the kittiwake colony on the cliffs (one of the only ones/the only one in the south east?), and on over Seaford Head, where we hooked up with two non-swimmers. It was by now 1.30pm but we figured arriving at the Cuckmere Inn after the lunchtime rush might be no bad thing.

It was after 2pm when we got to Cuckmere Haven and the tide was getting high enough to allow swimming there, and two of us succumbed, crossing to the east side of the beach. What to say about this swim except that it may well be the highlight of my summer? A mix of very warm and rather chilly water - it changed from place to place - and wonderful scenery. We swam quite far out.

We met the tail end of the lunchers at the pub, several of whom (it was too hot to count!) were planning to go back to Cuckmere Haven and Seaford for more swims. So my companion and I walked on alone to Alfriston and across the fields to Berwick station via a stop at the Cricketers Inn (our first shade of the day) and a "waiting for the level crossing barriers to come down" drink at the Berwick Inn.

I hope some of the non-swimmers got this far too and that they had a nice tea in Alfriston.

Mike A said...

As Walker mentions, n=25 on this walk with an occasional welcome breeze. I went a little "off map" at Cuckmere to the Saltmarsh farm restaurant at Exeat. Despite there being several tables free, they said they were very busy, so I took the hint and pressed on.
Yearning for some shade I took a northerly path through Friston forest which swung clockwise joining the South Downs way at Westdean. Here the Long House was having an open day to raise funds for the local church. Splendid gardens with locally baked light lunch refreshments.
Continuing on the South Downs Way to Littlington (initially with more shade) I bumped into a several Walkers raising money for the Royal Marsden by doing a 40Km walk from Lewes to Beachy Head - impressive even by TG standards!
For details of this event Click Here
(If you're moved to donate here is one of the Walkers)
Seven of us hooked up at Alfriston where there was tea and cake to be had at the Village War Memorial Hall and quality ice cream at "The Old Bank"
All succumbed to the temptation of the Number 47 bus at 4:30 which whisked us back to Seaford in time to catch the 5:07 to Lewes and then the "big" train back to the Great Wen.
A great day out on a classic English Summer Day