West London Ramblers

Bishopstone to Seaford Linear - 14 miles

Bishopstone to Seaford linear

Distance: 14 miles

Map: Explorer 123

Difficulty: Strenuous

Walk surveyed and described by Howard Densley, based on Ken’s summary as follows:

Downland walking with several steep ascents. Lunch stop at Alfriston (The Smugglers’ Inn), afterwards following the Cuckmere River to Exceat for the final climb to Seaford Head before descending to Seaford Promenade for possible tea at the kiosk. Drop out points at Exceat and Alfriston.

Description checked by Jackie Gower

Numbers refer to numbers on the accompanying map

[1] Exiting from Bishopstone station, go straight ahead down the road and cross the main A259 road by the bus shelter.  Take the footpath immediately opposite and after a few yards go over a stile.  Follow the grassy track, or, for a better view of the downs, climb the path to the right.  The track and path converge at a wall.  Cross the wall using the steps and go half left across a field to join a road at Bishopstone village.

[2] Follow the road straight ahead and after about 100 yards turn right uphill on an unmade road.  Keep right at a blue arrow bridleway sign to reach a junction after a few yards at the top of the hill.  Go left over a stile on a footpath which comes suddenly out into the open with a great view of the downs. Continue straight on, avoiding going downhill to the left at a junction.  Pass the farm buildings on your left, go through a gate and straight on, keeping the hedge on your right and ignoring the first large gap into a field. Eventually take the well-trodden path through a gap in the hedge on the right, indicated by a signpost, continuing in the same direction along a track, with the Seaford Golf Club on the right. Turn left off the track at a blue bridleway marker.  Continue for about 200 yards to a five-way junction (as shown on the map).

[3] Cross the main bridleway and immediately turn right through a gate and follow the path downhill and through a gate.  Continue for a few yards (a junction is shown on the map, but the right turn bridleway through Greenway Bottom does not appear to exist) and carry straight on uphill, and through a gate near the top.  Further on, a signpost is visible ahead some distance away.

[4] At the signpost turn right on to the South Downs Way (SDW). Continue through several gates to a 6-way junction and go straight ahead, following the SDW downhill into Alfriston, joining the main street at a T junction.

Lunch stop – picnic, or visit one of the cafes or pubs in Alfriston

The area around the church is a pleasant place for a picnic lunch.  To get there turn right at the T junction and shortly turn left down a narrow passageway (signposted), which leads past the church to a bridge over the river. 

[5] To continue the walk cross the bridge over the River Cuckmere.  Turn right along the east bank of the river, following the combined SDW and Vanguard Way (VW).  Where the SDW and VW go left at Litlington, continue on the river bank south past the White Horse carved into the hillside on the right, to the A259 road bridge at Exceat.

[6] Cross the road bridge and turn left across a car park, re-joining the Vanguard Way and continuing south on the opposite side of the river.  Continue along the VW when it diverges right from the riverside path. The two paths re-join about a mile further on at Cuckmere Haven.

[7] At Cuckmere Haven turn right on the VW, on to the cliff top and follow it all the way to Seaford, taking care not to go too near the edge, which is subject to periodic landslips.

[8] Descend to the seafront at Seaford and walk along for about half a mile. 

[9] There are several roads off on the right which eventually lead to Seaford station, but the most direct route is to take the right turn about a quarter of a mile past the Martello tower. This leads past a Morrisons supermarket on the right, to a crossroads.  Turn left on to the A259 road and the station is a few yards down on the left.

Additional information

Route Summary:  An attractively varied linear walk (although almost circular), from the seaside at Bishopstone, over the downs to the characterful village of Alfriston, along the River Cuckmere to Exceat, onward to the coast at Cuckmere Haven, then finally along the cliff top to Seaford.  Dropout points at Alfriston, for a 126 bus to Seaford, or at Exceat Bridge (9 miles), where there is a 12x bus service along the A259 road to Seaford station (or the other way for a longer ride to Eastbourne), but not on Sundays.

Getting there:  Main line rail service from London Victoria station, changing at Lewes for a local service to Bishopstone.  Buy a return ticket to Seaford.

Eating and drinking:  There are a number of pubs and cafes in Alfriston.  This a popular village and gets very busy in summer.  There is also a pub at Litlington, about 1½ miles further on (south) along the Cuckmere River.  At Seaford there are a number of kiosks along the sea front.

Monday, July 23, 2018