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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, 24 August 2019

Saturday walk - Glynde to Seaford - a downland classic, ending at the sea

Length: 23km (14.3 miles) for the whole walk: 16.2km (10 miles) if you get a bus from Exceat

9.46 train from Victoria (9.53 Clapham Junction, 10.04 East Croydon) to Lewes, arriving 10.53, changing there for the 11.15 to Glynde, arriving 11.21. T=1.31

Buy a day return to Seaford. This should also be accepted for the short hop from Lewes to Glynde unless you get a ticket inspector in a bad mood.

For walk directions click here, for GPX click here, for a map of the route click here.

An old favourite, not done in summer for a while. It is a fine downland walk with gorgeous views, and even in the early days of the SWC, when 12 miles was an epic adventure, we always used to think the miles flew by on this one.

I personally would skip the jiggery-pokery through allotments at the start and head straight up the road to cross the A27 at the junction, where a central reservation enables you to tackle one lane of the incessant traffic at a time. After that all is tranquil. A very early lunch would be possible at the Ram Inn in West Firle after just 2.2 miles: otherwise it is around 4.8 miles more (so 7 miles in all) to Alfriston, which has lots of lunch options, of which the usual SWC haunt is the George Inn with its very nice garden. They have a lovely website, full of interesting information about the area, but alas no information about their meal service times. But no matter: Alfriston is full of pubs and tea rooms, so you won’t starve.

Tea at the Saltmarsh Cafe in Exceat, open till 5pm (in earlier, innocent SWC days we considered this the best tea stop on the walks) from where you can get very regular (every ten minutes or so) number 12 buses to Seaford, if you want to finish the walk here. The Cuckmere Inn down the road is another possible tea stop, though I find the staff here unhelpful and unsmiling, and the rules about where and when they do it do not deign to serve food byzantine. The bus stop outside this pub was also out of action due to road works a few weeks back, though these may now have finished.

Those that don’t take the bus here will continue down to Cuckmere Haven and up over Seaford Head, a 6.3km (3.9 mile) walk of great beauty. In Seaford the Trawlers fish and chip shop near the station (not the more standard one down the road) is the best there is. There is also a lovely little bar in the station itself which is worth missing a train or two for.

For sea swimmers, the tide will perfect for a swim, conditions permitting, at Cuckmere Haven, with high tide at 6.33pm. A swim is also possible at the end of the walk at Seaford.

Trains back are at 25 and 53 past the hour till late, changing at Lewes. There are no longer any trains in the evening which require a change at Brighton instead. 


Davis said...

Hello from Charleston SC, USA. I will be in London all of next week until Sunday and would love to join you on this hike.

Booking to Seaford and jumping on the Glynde train instead is okay? Anyone planning on leaving earlier and doing the 3.1 mile stretch from Lewes to Glynde?

What time do you generally finish this adventure in Seaford?

I have Friday free as well. Would you recommend I do the Seaford to Eastbourne section on Friday or would you recommend I do something entirely different? I'm looking forward to this and thank you in advance!

Walker said...

You are very welcome to join us. It is a fabulous walk and a lovely slice of England.

Regarding the train ticket, it is very very very unlikely that any “on board train staff” will appear between Lewes and Glynde and even more unlikely that they would object to a Seaford return, and if they did you would be in good company because all of us in the group will have the same ticket. If you find anyone willing to start from Lewes, you would have no problem at all as the Seaford return is valid via there.

Seaford to Eastbourne repeats the last 3.9 miles of this walk, but in the opposite direction, in which you actually have the amazing view in front of you. If Glynde to Seaford has one flaw, it is that on then last section you keep wanting to stop to look behind you. So yes, I would say that Seaford to Eastbourne is a perfect thing to do on Friday. It is considered to be one our out finest walks.

Walker said...

Do be aware, by the way, of how our walks work: we have no leaders.

This explains it all:

Anonymous said...

Intend to leave the walk at Exceat and catch a bus to Eastbourne. If cafe is busy at Exceat might break journey at East Dean for tea there

sylvia said...

The Litlington Tea room, after Alfriston and before Exceat, was always a lovely place to visit. I don't think it would be far off the route.

Anonymous said...

Hi. New to SWC. Great site. Can you recommend a walk in the vicinity of Lewes/Seaford/Eastbourne that is well or partly wooded. Thanks for your help.

Anonymous said...

i hope to attend this walk and amay leave it
at Exceat too .


Anonymous said...

I'll join from Clapham Junction and hopefully find you :)

Anonymous said...

I assume if you leave the walk at Exceat and catch a bus to Eastbourne then you probably need to buy a day return to Eastbourne? (unfortunately a little more expensive)

Walker said...

N=36 on this walk, comprised of 33 on the specified train, plus three that were late for various reasons and caught us up. The train from Victoria was - predictably given the W=hot-sunny weather - packed, and those that got on at Clapham Junction or East Croydon stood all the way to Lewes. The Glynde train was relatively quiet, however.

It was hot hot hot on the climb up onto the downs, which was bigger and longer than I remembered it. Up on top there was a bit of a breeze. We got fairly strung out and about half the group I never saw again. I hope the Downs Monster did not get them.

Quite a lot of us ate at the George in Alfriston. It is always nice to eat in this lovely pub with its idyllic garden, but more than one (all right: two) commented that the food was a bit tasteless. Certainly my duck was tough, the red cabbage unemotional and the gravy tasted like it had been made from granules. But fair dos, there are starving people in the world and it filled a hole.

After lunch some tried the Littlington tea room and pronounced it good (there is also a pub in this village that looked like it would make a nice lunch stop). I was enchanted to re-make the acquaintance of Friston Forest after so long. Lots stopped to admire the view of the Cuckmere valley: two of us pressed in instead to the Saltmarsh tea room, to be told first that they were about to close (at 4.10pm, when the stated closing time was 5pm) and that we could only have takeaways, and then that we could sit at our table to drink our takeaways. They then let in plenty of other customers, including others in the group, and happily served them tea in china cups. Another puzzling anecdote to add to my planned Book of Outstanding British Customer Service.

Six of us split off at this point to walk to Birling Gap and East Dean. I hope several - lots! - of the others swam on the west side of Cuckmere Haven and enjoyed an idyllic walk over Seaford Head and had chips on Seaford Beach as the sun set. A separate report about how you all got on would be most welcome.

We splittists went to the east beach at Cuckmere, and despite some cloud build-up enjoyed the most wonderful of swims, on a flat calm sea, with soft golden light to the west, the looming cliffs of Haven Brow to the east, and - once we had swum about 200 metres out from the shore - a grand panorama of the Seven Sisters.

We then enjoyed that most rare of things these days, a walk over a relatively deserted Seven Sisters, the selfie-making hordes having departed for the day. Five of us enjoyed a sunset swim at Birling Gap. We walked to East Dean, where two stopped for a brief snack in the Tiger Inn and three of us got an earlier bus to Seaford in pursuit of chips. The Trawlers being by now (9pm) closing, we went to “the other place”, which was OK, if a tad slow. We had a quick drink in the pub in the station and got the 21.25 train. Mercifully the connecting train at Lewes was not that busy and we had a convivial journey home - until the Gatwick Invasion with their continent-sized suitcases put a stop to it, anyway.

Tony said...

A further group of 8 South Downs explorers went for the traditional menu: a refreshing swim at Cuckmere Haven (those whose attention wandered to the sky were treated with a fire rainbow display), onward to Seaford for further refreshment at the Plough (excellent Harvey's and Longman beers plus medicinal tonics) and a visit to Trawlers en route to the station to ensure that the proprietors would not be wasting any of their food at closing time.

Fellow passengers on the train from Seaford vicariously enjoyed our fish and chips (!) which we had finished prior to arrival at Lewis. The Glynde Opera crowd would have taken a dim view of such loutish behaviour: the train was mobbed and we got separated trying to find seats (twice, as we tried to find empty space when near empty carriages were joined at Haywards Heath).

A big day out in fine weather with great company.

(Thanks as always to the tireless volunteers that post the walks and support the SWC.)

teacup said...

A great day out. Some of us picnickers who ate by the church in Alfriston walked on to the delightfully gladed tea gardens in Litlington, home made cakes and plenty of tea options. This would be worth adding to the lunch/tea options for the walk, although a little bit soon after Alfriston if you have lunched there, summer time only because it's open air. It knocks spots off the Exceat tea place. Six had tea, then we split at Exceat four to the west of Cuckmere and two to the east. We split again at the western beach, two off to Seaford and two had a very nice dip in the calm sea at Cuckmere Haven. Walking along Seaford Head the sea and sky looked beautiful as the sunlight shone through. We then bumped into three more in the platform bar at Seaford station, where the beer and the 'mystery pie' was going down well (the bar staff weren't sure of the content of the pie). Two of us took our drinks on to the 7.25pm train (quiet) and got on another quiet train at Lewes homeward bound. Thanks for posting this great walk!