Sussex downs and coast short break walking vacation

“Two days exploring the Sussex Downs on foot, with flexible, self guided walks, super scenery and a choice of accommodation, too.”


Self guided walking | two full day walks and one half day | variable distances with option to shorten routes | maps, route notes and printed commentaries | choice of B&B or hotel accommodation | Alfriston | River Cuckmere | Lullington Nature Reserve | Wilmington | Seven Sisters | Beachy Head

Description of Sussex downs and coast short break walking vacation

Enjoy wonderful walking in the south of England on this Sussex Downs and coast short break walking vacation. Escape for a weekend, or longer if you’d like to extend this trip, to walk through some of the country’s most beautiful landscapes, well away from the crowds. There are two full day walks and one half day walk and as this is a self guided vacation, you’re free to go at your own pace and stop off at anywhere that takes your fancy.

The routes are suitable for anyone of average fitness, able to walk between six and 10 miles on varied hilly terrain for up to five hours with a break for lunch. As this is hill country, some ascents and descents are to be expected. There are options to shorten the walks. All the walks have been carefully researched, so there’s no risk of getting lost. We include a marked up map, route notes and printed commentaries, highlighting features of special interest to provide insight into the area’s history, culture and natural environment.

There is a choice of accommodation on this vacation, with two excellent B&Bs or a lovely hotel complete with pool, all nestling in the beautiful downland village of Alfriston. There is also excellent food at good country pubs for lunch and tea rooms to finish.

Day-by-day itinerary

Day 1:Settle in at your comfortable accommodation and read through your walks pack. We then offer a short walk exploring Alfriston, the perfect downland village, steeped in history and set in a valley that reaches back into the mists of time. We recommend dinner in Dean's Place award-winning restaurant. Alternatively, there are several old inns in the village where you can dine.
Day 2:From the hotel you join the meandering River Cuckmere where cattle browse in lush water meadows. Vast green panoramas gently unfold as you ascend Windover Hill to seek secluded Deep Dene, an awesome hollow in the hills, a special place of splendid isolation and remoteness, with only sheep and seagulls for company. Then Lullington Nature Reserve, important chalk heathland with springy downland turf, grazing goats and diverse flora. The deeply sunken Wealdway, an old smugglers’ route, takes you down to Jevington for lunch at a favourite old inn, The Eight Bells. After lunch magnificent views of the distant Weald with blue hills, patchwork fields and little woodlands combine with the wide expanse of sky above to give a great sense of freedom and solitude. It is here one experiences that elemental sense of timelessness so unique to Sussex. Return to Alfriston via Wilmington with its ruined priory and mysterious Long Man cut into the chalk. This truly splendid walk combines the great open spaces of the South Downs with the vast spreading acres of the Weald, the beautiful Cuckmere Valley and three downland villages. (8 miles, Moderate). A shortened version is available which includes some of the highlights described above, including magnificent panoramas, Lullington Heath Nature Reserve and flint downland villages. Start by driving to Jevington to allow easy access to the downland and reduce the mileage to approximately 5 miles. (5 miles, Easy)
Day 3:Today you can opt for either 6 or 9 miles. Whatever your choice, you will enjoy one of the finest coastal walks in England with stunning views of the spectacular Seven Sisters towering above Cuckmere Haven. An ever-changing kaleidoscope of clouds race across a blue sky as the musical outpourings of skylarks, seemingly suspended above, accompany you. Enjoy a picnic on the beach at Birling Gap where high white cliffs meet an aquamarine sea. Here, tide permitting, stop for quiet contemplation, sitting on the beach and looking out at the ever pounding waves as they crash and hiss along the pebble shore. You can swim here, weather and tide permitting. On along the cliffs, past the Belle Tout Lighthouse, this most exhilarating of walks culminates at Beachy Head where sheer walls of white chalk plunge 200 metres into the sea. Finish with tea at the excellent old farmhouse at Exceat before returning to Alfriston for departure. The coastal stretch of this walk is particularly undulating so expect a series of ‘ups’ and ‘downs’ over great waves of landscape, the “blunt, bare-headed, whale-backed Downs”, so beloved by Kipling. (Moderate 6 miles from Exceat to Beachy Head or strenuous 10 miles from Seaford to Beachy Head). A beautiful easy walk is also available in the Cuckmere Valley. This combines some elements of the moderate walk described above without the hills. Instead of visiting Birling Gap and Beachy Head, you will visit the beach at Cuckmere Haven, gloriously situated beneath the towering white cliffs of the Seven Sisters. You'll enjoy lunch at the old farmhouse at Exceat with time to explore the excellent Country Park Centre before returning on foot to Alfriston via the River Cuckmere and Litlington Tea Gardens! (5 miles, Easy)

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Departure information

This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Sussex downs and coast short break walking vacation


Walking is the least carbon intensive way to travel and ensures that the environmental impact of our walking clients is kept to a minimum. Where it is necessary to travel by means other than on foot, we encourage the use of public transport; if that is unavailable we recommend local transport companies to reach the start of the walk. We aim to balance the environmental impact of traveling with the benefits that sustainable tourism brings to the local rural economy. We accommodate our walkers in a small local inn or B&B or a small hotel, all being family run and central to the life of the village. They employ local people and prepare meals from locally grown produce as far as possible.

In our small home office we recycle paper, cardboard, ink cartridges and printed material. We purchase recycled printer cartridges, paper, envelopes, labels, pens, toilet tissue, bin liners. We turn off printers, photocopiers, computers, battery chargers and transformers at the end of each day and avoid ‘screen savers’, use energy-efficient bulbs and low-energy appliances. We cut CO2 emissions by keeping thermostats at the lowest comfortable setting. We do not use tumble dryers nor take disposable plastic bottles to the countryside, instead promoting the use of water bottles manufactured by companies like Sigg.

We keep our customers informed electronically via email, electronic newsletters and our website. We encourage clients to remit their payments electronically via PayPal or by bank transfer.


We endeavour to balance the environmental impact of traveling with the benefits that sustainable tourism brings to the local economy. In choosing to lunch at local restaurants we are patronising establishments which employ staff from the local rural community.

We choose the best walks available which may not always start directly from the accommodation. Therefore provision has to be made to transport our clients to and from the start of the walks. To achieve this we often employ local taxi companies. Over the years we bring repeat business to them.

Bringing people to a new region, arranging their accommodation and food, transporting them from place to place, walking the ancient footpaths, visiting their pubs and teaching through carefully-researched commentaries something about the area’s rich history, culture and folk law, has the effect of giving people a sense of community with the place. People often return on their own or with friends, visit the same pubs and renew their sense of being at one with the beautiful local countryside.


This carefully-researched and crafted walking vacation in a special landscape of the UK, promotes appreciation, respect and enjoyment of the countryside through informative commentaries. These commentaries relate to history, rural life and traditions, flora and fauna, geology and literature.

We walk in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. We describe the views to be seen from the high points and our walkers always enjoy seeing the distant route they took earlier in the walk. We always explain something of the history of the area we are visiting and introduce into the walks topics of a literary nature such as poems, references to writers associated with an area and examples of the soothing power of nature.

We share knowledge about features of architectural interest and geological interest. For example, we may explain about the chalk downland turf or archeological features such as barrows and earthworks and explain how the land we see today has been shaped by the past. Or we may explain about a national trail, its history and its significance today. We include references to the economic importance of, for example, chalk, hardwood, coppices.

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