- Start: The Cricketers Arms (BN26 6SP; grid ref TQ 519053)
- End: The Cricketers Arms (BN26 6SP; grid ref TQ 519053)
- Country: England
- County: EastSussex
- Type: Country
- Nearest pub: The Cricketers Arms (BN26 6SP; grid ref TQ 519053)
- Ordnance Survey: Explorer 123: Eastbourne & Beachy Head
- Difficulty: Medium
Taking in the ancient downland hamlets of Berwick and Alciston, this straightforward walk is divided between rolling farmland at the foot of the South Downs and a short stretch along the South Downs Way, from which there are unparalleled views...
Taking in the ancient downland hamlets of Berwick and Alciston, this straightforward walk is divided between rolling farmland at the foot of the South Downs and a short stretch along the South Downs Way, from which there are unparalleled views over the Cuckmere Valley and the Weald.
Nestling at the foot of the South Downs, this traditional flint stone cottage pub blends seamlessly into the surrounding Bloomsbury countryside. Obtaining its name from the local residents who would once have formed the backbone of the village team and been the pub's main clientele, the pub is now most frequented by walkers who drop in from the South Downs Way or the nearby Long Man of Wilmington. Outside there are scented gardens full of colourful flowers and inside its cottage-like rooms contain two log fires in small brick fireplaces, attractive cricketing pastels and beams hung with cricket bats. The Cricketers offers steaks and beef from Lewes, fish from Newhaven and sausages from Seaford, and a particular highlight is the Steak and Harveys Ale Pie.
For more information see: www.cricketersberwick.co.uk
1. Leaving the Cricketers Arms, cross over the road and take a gravel track through the grassy car park directly opposite, soon veering right around the edge a large pond. Follow a narrow path to the right of a hedge and flint wall to emerge into a small pasture with Berwick church immediately ahead. Cross over the pasture to a gap in the opposite corner to the left of the church. Windover Hill rises away to the left.Berwick church, built predominantly in the 12th century, contains an earlier well-like Saxon font and the grassy bank of a barrow to the right of our path indicates this has been a sacred site since prehistoric times. Unusual features are the plate glass windows on the north side, inserted after the original Victorian leaden windows were destroyed by wartime bombs, and the colourful murals by Bloomsbury artists Duncan Grant and Vanessa and Quentin Bell.
2. Pass to the left of the church, after which the path forks (TQ519049). Do not follow the path sharply round to the right, but take a clearly marked path straight ahead through the centre of two large arable fields with the peak of Firle Beacon visible on the right. Ignoring a cross track leading to a barn, continue ahead towards a cream-walled house, passing to the right of paddocks to emerge by a winding track known as Comp Lane (TQ517039).Comp Lane byway, also known as the Old Coach Road, was once part of the main route between Lewes and Eastbourne before the introduction of the A27. The underhill road remains particularly discernible between Berwick and Firle and will be rejoined at point 5 on the walk.
3. Turn left and then almost immediately right when the byway reaches a tarmac lane. From here there are panoramic views over the route just traversed, with Berwick Church clearly visible. On the left, the first glimpses of Alfriston can be seen. When the path splits at a three point fork, take the middle option, winding steeply to the top of the Downs. At the top (TQ510035), take a moment to enjoy the views over the Cuckmere Valley on the left, with the route of the South Downs Way rising up Windover Hill on the other side. In the Cuckmere Valley, the churches of Alfriston, Littlington and Lullington pinpoint the locations of these downland settlements. The last of these, directly ahead from our current position, is isolated on the hill and lays claim to being one of the smallest churches in the country, measuring just 16 feet square and seating just twenty people.
4. Turn right through a gate onto the South Downs Way, gently climbing uphill to gain even clearer views over the Cuckmere Valley. As the route continues over the South Downs Way, the sea comes into view at both Cuckmere Haven and Seaford, with Hope Gap and Seaford Head separating the two valleys. Ignore a path on the right signposted towards Berwick and at the next junction (TQ499045), where the radio masts on Beddingham Hill are visible ahead and Newhaven Harbour lies away to the left, turn right to follow a sheep track to a gate with a view high above Alciston. Through the gate, a narrow track with steep sides cuts steeply down the escarpment. When this meets a gate by a road leading up to Bostal Hill (TQ498050) - near Bo Beep Chalk Pit - double back along the foot of the escarpment (the other side of the gate signposts this as Alciston 3/4 mile), soon meeting a gate on the left. Turn through this and follow a narrow sunken path between trees, re-emerging onto the Old Coach Road seen earlier.
5. Turn right along this and then almost immediately left by a memorial seat down a lane signed towards Alciston. Follow the lane round a barn, the largest in the county, and then past the ruin of a medieval dovecote, both of which are the remnants of a 14th century grange once owned by Battle Abbey.
6. A footpath on the right by Alciston Church is signed Berwick 1 mile. This skirts the left side of the church to a stile, over which the route turns right and then almost immediately left at a fingerpost to follow a hedge line on the left with Berwick Church visible directly ahead. At the end of the field (TQ512053), turn left and then right after a few yards along an elevated ridge across the centre of the field. This soon emerges on a surfaced farm track leading into the village where a left turn by a grass covered mini roundabout leads back to The Cricketers Arms.
This walk is from Sussex Best Pub Walks: Arundel to Robertsbridge by Jonny Young, available in all good bookshops.
LENGTH 4.25 MILES
OS MAP:Explorer 123: Eastbourne & Beachy Head
START POINT:The Cricketers Arms (BN26 6SP; grid ref TQ 519053)
GETTING THERE:Via A27 about 5 miles west of Polegate
PUBLIC TRANSPORT:Berwick railway station is located a mile to the north of The Cricketers Arms. The Cuckmere Community Bus calls here on certain days of the week.