3.7 of 5 (5 votes)

South Downs Way: Housedean Farm to Pyecombe

A moderate walk (low hills and fells (below 600m)) in national park South Downs starting and finishing in East Sussex, England, about 11.10km (6.90 mi) long with an estimated walking time of about 3:30h. It is suitable for families with children, but unsuitable for prams & pushchairs, wheelchairs.
Elevation Profile
Ascent 169m (554ft)
Descent 123m (403ft)
Max. Elevation 240m (787ft)
Altitude Gain & Loss 292m (957ft)
near Lewes
Distance 11.10km
Duration ~3:30h
3Created by John Walker on 26 Jan 2015
This section of the South Downs Way begins some 20 miles west of Eastbourne (the start of this National Trail), between the fleshpots of Lewes and Brighton. But on the walk you’ll be quite unaware of them as the route is surprisingly remote from towns or even villages and lies entirely within the area of the South Downs National Park. To get to the start point you can take a train to Brighton station then walk to Richmond Place in the Old Steyne and then catch a #29 bus to Housedean Farm, a well-known campsite.

Walk Functions


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Walk Map

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OS Grid TQ368092
1. From the bus stop which is on a slip road of the A27 head up a very minor road going east past Housedean Farm, then turn left where the South Downs Way heads uphill, a stony track along the edge of an arable field fringed in high summer with poppies, thistles and convolvulus. The view back towards the sweep of downs from Castle Hill along to Mill Hill is stunning, with just a glimpse of the sea beyond the hills at Newhaven.
OS Grid TQ369098
2. The path goes briefly but steeply down through a small beech wood (Bunkershill Plantation), emerging to climb again to take a left turn to Balmer Down. This section seems very remote even though Brighton and Lewes are each just a few miles away. Two university campuses are even closer but quite hidden by the rolling hills.
About 0.59 km (~0.37 miles) from
OS Grid TQ364115
3. A gentle climb brings you to a junction with another track where the South Downs Way turns right up a ridge between small copses to reach Blackcap. This high point gives the first views north over the Weald. Even more extensive South Downs views stretch from Firle Beacon towards Brighton and the sea to the south west.
About 1.82 km (~1.13 miles) from
OS Grid TQ355127
4. The path is now along a stony track running parallel to the north facing scarp edge of the Downs with lovely views over a wooded valley towards the Weald. Plumpton, home to an agricultural college and a racecourse, nestles below the hill.
About 1.46 km (~0.91 miles) from
OS Grid TQ335127
5. The white chalky track, edged in high summer with knapweed and scabious, continues uphill, crossing a small road at Ditchling Beacon, the highest point on this stage, where there is a car park (and usually an ice cream van, the only refreshments available on this section). There is an Iron Age hill fort nearby, hard to spot amongst the many lumps and bumps (marked as ‘tumuli’ or ‘mounds’ on the OS map) and frequent dew ponds for the livestock. When we did this walk in July we saw loads of flowers but almost no birds on this stretch, apart from a few corvids and a single chiff-chaff. But no skylarks or swallows. Perhaps the gusty wind was preventing insects from flying?
About 2.01 km (~1.25 miles) from
OS Grid TQ316129
6. Where the South Downs Way crosses the Sussex Border Path the surface of the path becomes less even, more stony and difficult to walk without watching your feet.
About 1.90 km (~1.18 miles) from
OS Grid TQ304132
7. The path goes close to the nineteenth century Jack and Jill windmills at Clayton but just before reaching them turns sharp left to head down towards a farm, then turning right to descend past the Pyecombe Golf Club to an A-road.
About 1.23 km (~0.76 miles) from
OS Grid TQ292129
8. Turn left here where the path runs separately from the main road, just west of it.
About 1.25 km (~0.78 miles) from
OS Grid TQ291124
9. Reaching School Lane follow the main A273 road to the bus stop near a filling station to catch a 40X bus to Haywards Heath railway station for trains to e.g. Clapham Junction, taking around 1 hour. Or you can catch a 273 bus from the opposite stop to go back to Brighton (Old Steyne), from there the train station is not far away.
About 0.44 km (~0.27 miles) from

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