Sussex short break trek, spirit of Bloomsbury

“Follow in the footsteps of the Bloomsbury set on a relaxed self guided walking break, taking in literary sites and superb South Downs landscapes.”


Self guided walking | two full day walks and one short walk | maps, route notes and commentaries | Alfriston | South Downs | Bloomsbury set sites | Ouse Valley | Monk’s House | Charleston Farmhouse | Tilton | Berwick Church | choice of hotel or B&B

Description of Sussex short break trek, spirit of Bloomsbury

Capture the spirit of the Bloomsbury set on this Sussex short break walking vacation. You’ll enjoy pplendid walking in the South Downs, one of Britain’s most diverse national parks, visiting Virginia Wolf’s Monk’s House, Charleston Farmhouse, Tilton and Berwick Church, magical places that were loved and prized by the Blomsbury set, against the background of the stunning South Downs.

Enjoy varied, relaxed and expertly crafted self guided walks in some of England’s most beautiful countryside. This is a tailor made trip, so you have the freedom to choose your own dates. Self guided walks allow you to walk at your own pace and take as long over lunch as you please. Routes pass through the most tranquil and beautiful scenery imaginable, well away from the crowds, incorporating visits to the places that inspired the Bloomsbury Group.
The routes are suitable for anyone of average fitness, able to walk up to nine miles on varied terrain for up to five hours, with a break for lunch. Some ascents and descents can be expected from time to time.

Walk with complete peace of mind, knowing that all routes have been expertly created and thoroughly researched by us so you will always be able to find the way. We supply printed commentaries highlighting features of special interest to provide you with an understanding of the area’s history and culture with references to the lives and works of the Bloomsbury Group. Choose to stay in a beautiful hotel, in the pretty village of Alfriston, or a delightfully situated B&B.

Day-by-day itinerary

Day 1:Arrival Day. Settle into your accommodation and read through your walks pack before dining at one of our recommended restaurants.
Day 2:Step out into the tiniest Ouse Valley hamlet with cottages from another age surrounding an ancient church. Then follow in the footsteps of Virginia Woolf as she strode across the Downs from Charleston to Rodmell. She too would have enjoyed this loveliest of landscapes which inspired many of the striking perceptions introduced into literature through her famous ‘stream of consciousness’ technique. Rolling landscapes of rich chalk downland are punctuated by forgotten villages tucked away in a cleft in the Downs, remote and unspoilt. You'll walk accompanied by wide views over the Sussex Weald, only sheep and seagulls for company. Past dew ponds and tumuli to the beautiful pre-Conquest village of Rodmell astride the South Downs Way. Lunch at a country pub serving excellent food - or have a picnic on the downs - the choice is yours. Flint walls, thatched cottages, a tiny Victorian school and a fine old 12th century church: this is Rodmell. The highlight is Monk's House, the small weatherboarded home to Leonard and Virginia Woolf, Sussex outpost for the 'Bloomsbury Set'. There in the Ouse Valley you'll stop for a poignant pause at the river in which Virginia chose to end her days. (6 miles)
Day 3:From your hotel you'll join the meandering River Cuckmere where cattle browse in lush water meadows. Vast green panoramas gently unfold as you tread the springy downland turf, experiencing that elemental sense of timelessness so unique to the Sussex Downs. Stand and stare at magnificent scenes before you: long, sweeping views extending northwards over the Weald and south to the sea. At Charleston you can enjoy a light lunch before visiting the house and vibrant gardens at the heart of Bloomsbury. It’s still a place of wonder and inspiration, transformed by Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell as a refuge for the artists and writers who helped to shape 20th century taste. Continue to follow famous footsteps to Berwick Church where Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant used friends and local people in colourful murals and frescoes to controversially depict the life of Christ against the background of war torn Britain. (9 miles)

Please feel free to contact the Help Desk team if you need any advice on your vacation plans. We're always happy to help!

Toll free 1-866-821-6866

Departure information

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

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Sussex short break trek, spirit of Bloomsbury


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 hotel, inn or B&B, 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. Where no pub or restaurant is available for lunch, we recommend purchasing supplies at the village shop in Alfriston and at the end of the day, we recommend a cream tea in the village's tearoom.

We choose the best walks available which may not always start directly from a railway station or hotel. Therefore provision has to be made to transport people to and from the start of the walks. To achieve this we employ local minibus and 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 restaurants 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's newest National Park, promotes appreciation, respect and enjoyment of the countryside through informative commentaries.

The walks are set not only in the National Park but also in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Our commentaries which accompany your route notes describe the views to be seen from the high points. And it's always satisfying to look back at the distant route you took earlier in the walk. Our notes explain something of the history of the area; for example, the importance of sheep on the South Downs and the role sheep played in the smuggling 'industry'.

We introduce into your walks topics of a literary nature, focusing on these particular walks on the works of Virginia Woolf, Vanessa Bell and other members of the Bloomsbury Group. You will visit their homes and understand how the landscapes surrounding them influenced their works. In fact features of the landscape, such as Firle Beacon, Tilton Barn and Southdown sheep are represented in the unique and controversial paintings with which Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant and others adorned the famous little church at Berwick, also included in your itinerary.

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