Lewes to Southease
|West: Pyecombe to Lewes||Back to Index||East: Seaford to Southease|
This walk begins from the attractive town of Lewes, a short distance from the South Downs Way. The walk begins to climb to Blackcap then back onto the South Downs Way. From here the path heads south over Balmer Down to the A27, crossing the road then round past Kingston near Lewes and on to the beautiful village of Southease, crossing the river Ouse to the station.
Getting to the Start
Lewes is just off the A27 to the north east of Brighton. From the west, exit the A27 onto the A277 at the roundabout, taking you into the centre of the town. From the east, exit the A27 onto the A26 and head through the tunnel. At the roundabout turn left, then straight on at the next roundabout into the town centre. Lewes is also easily reached from the A26 and A275. Long term car parking is available in North Street and at the railway station, but check the signs as some of the car parks in the town are short-term parking only.
If you're travelling by public transport Lewes has a railway station with a good service. There are frequent trains from London, Croyden, Gatwick Airport and Haywards Heath as well as frequent more local trains to Hastings, Eastbourne, Newhaven, Seaford and Brighton, all operated by Southern. There are also several bus routes to the town including frequent services from Brighton, Uckfield and Tunbridge Wells.
Lewes is a lovely town with an attractive high street and a castle to explore. The town is also on the banks of the river Ouse, which this walk returns to at Southease. From the town centre head up West Street then into White Hull as it climbs up the hill.
|Lewes High Street||Near the castle|
Continue up the road as it climbs until you get to Hill Road which you follow. As you reach the end of the road it becomes a path, soon emerging onto the A275. Cross the road and continue straight on the path that now begins to climb next to a small road. You are now climbing up pass the site of the old racecourse in Lewes. Soon you reach some houses to your left but you pass the edge of them following the main path as it heads up the hill.
Soon you reach a junction of paths where you continue straight on, past the point marked as Mount Harry on your right. Here you join another path, turning slightly left to the top of Blackcap. An attractive group of trees now covers the top of the hill and from here you have superb views, particularly to the south and east.
|View from Blackcap||View from Blackcap|
|View from Blackcap|
From the hill continue straight on, following the obvious path until you come to another junction of paths at the gate. Here we re-join the South Downs Way turning left. After about half a mile the path turns off to the left (it is well signed) to Balmer Down. All around here you have lovely views of the hills of the downs and to the coast and sea beyond.
|View from Balmer Down||View from Balmer Down|
Soon the noise of the road below comes audible and after around 3/4 of a mile the path turns off to the right again and now descends towards the busy A27. You emerge beside a small lay-by car park beside the road near some farm buildings. Here you turn right heading towards the bridge over the road. Cross the bridge over the road and turn left. You're now following a path with the road on one side and the railway line on the other. Soon as the path just begins to move away from the road you pass under a tunnel to cross the railway line as the path now leaves the busy road behind. It's surprising how quick the noise of the road disappears as you pass under the railway line.
You now pass along the edge of a field , around the edge of a small wood then pass through it to climb back towards a second clump of trees (Newmarket Plantation) back on the top of the downs.
|View near Newmarket Plantation||View near Newmarket Plantation|
|View near Newmarket Plantation|
At the end of these trees you can continue straight on into Brighton, but the South Downs Way turns slightly to the left now directly overlooking Rottingdean. Soon the path turns to the left round Cold Coombes and heads towards the top of a hill. Here the South Downs Way turns to the right, following the top of the downs, however there is a path straight on down the escarpment and into the village of Kingston near Lewes that you can see below. The path continues beyond back to Lewes, around 2 miles away, making a pleasant circular walk if you decide not to continue to Southease. Assuming you keep on the South Downs Way the path now passes a dew pond on the left and a second path from Kingston near Lewes joins to the left.
|View of the dew pond||View from near Kingston near Lewes|
|Kingston near Lewes below||Kingston near Lewes below|
At the junction of paths ahead continue straight on, following the obvious (and signed) path. The path ahead now gently climbs to Swanborough Hill where you have views to the left of Swansborough Manor. Ignore the path off to the right and continue on to Iford Hill where you have views to the village of Iford on the left. Continue straight on to Front Hill. The hills in this area have some iron-age forts and the hills shows signs of old field systems.
|View near Iford||View near Iford|
|View near Iford||View to the coast near Iford|
From Front Hill the path now begins to descend before it climbs back a little to Mill Hill. The village of Rodmell is visible below to the left here but the path continues straight on (ignoring the path to the left into the village). As you then head down the path here it descends towards a farm where you come out onto the farm track.
|The path descending|
Turn left on the main track away from the farm and heading towards the road. The path then heads through this valley towards the road, hidden initially by trees. Sadly as you come towards the road you may well see evidence of fly-tipping which seems a particular problem in this area. The path initially follows next to the road, but as it comes to a junction you have to join the road. Take care here as the road is surprisingly busy. At the junction of roads follow the sign turning left to the edge of Southease.
The road into the village is a little quieter and soon you come into the centre of this lovely village. The village still has it's village green and the beautiful Saxon church with it's round tower. The church also has wall paintings on the inside. The village is in fact very small with the houses you've passed being most of the buildings of the village.
|Southease Village||Southease Church|
Continue along the road as it descends down to the flood plains of the river Ouse. The road soon gets narrower when you get to the bridge over the river. It claim to be a swing bridge, but it looks like this bridge has not lifted for many years and looks to be in poor condition. A path follows the river banks on either side down to Newhaven at the coast. Continue over the river on the track towards the station. Soon you come to the level crossing (now a private crossing) and then the station. It's perhaps surprising to have a station in such a remote place but it's nevertheless a useful link for walkers!
|The river Ouse at Southease||The swing bridge over the river|
Getting back from Southease is easy since there is the station. There are hourly trains back to Lewes (7 days a week), departing from the platform nearest the village (oddly, there don't seem to be signs), all operated by Southern. These trains also runs to Newhaven and Seaford to the south and east and Brighton to the west. There are connections to London (Victoria) via Gatwick Airport at Lewes and coastal trains to Worthing, Chichester and Portsmouth at Brighton.
The following web sites provide information on the area.
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