Sussex walks ~ Lewes to Southease

It's been an incredibly busy month and when Sunday came the temptation was to catch up on chores and general life admin. But a mind is nothing without pressing the reset button from time to time and poor Monty was well overdue a good half day of him and I time. 

This walk is one of my absolute favourites. It's an easy, breezy walk - one that isn't taxing and is full of detoxing fresh air and a mix of landscapes to inspire and feast the eyes. It's deserved time away from the busy pressures of modern life and provides a beautiful reconnect with nature. It's a perfect walk whatever the season but make sure you wear appropriate footwear - the path is walkable all year but can get boggy at points. 

You can stop halfway and make the 20 min walk into Rodmell to check out Monk's House (Virginia Woolf's 17th century home) if you wanted to make more of a day of it. A tea in the beautiful garden is just the ticket. 

Walk stats

Duration: around 2 - 2.5 hours

Terrain: Easy though can get muddy so wear suitable footwear

Where to park: Friars Walk car park (pay and display), Lewes or Ham Lane (free - but you;'ll miss out the first bit of the walk at The Railway Land)

Starting point: Lewes Railway Land, Railway Lane or if parked at Ham Lane the path to the left of the household recycling plant.

Navigation: very easy - just stick to the right hand side of the river and you're all good!

Notes: You'll be getting the train back so worth checking times first but you can easily pass the time at the lovely South Downs YHA at Southease.

Let's go

Make your way through the old railway gate into the beautiful Railway Land. The Railway Land is one of my favourite places in Lewes - it offers so much for a relatively small space and is full of wildlife and history. Take some time to appreciate it here as when you scratch the surface you'll discover a feast of beauty! 

Take a left to walk along the river (which is the main key to this whole walk!) - on the other side of the river are beautiful houses sitting at the bottom of chalk cliffs. The landscape opens up a little for a while until you cross under the railway line but just stick to the side of the river and you're in the right place. Once past the railway line the path veers a little to the right and you'll find yourself at the local tip/recycling plant (if you've parked at Ham Lane you'll be joining here). Keep following the gravel path round to the left and you'll cross under the busy A27. Here you'll pick up a grassy path along the river. 

Keep walking until the sound of traffic fades and you are left with the sound of crickets and birds. You'll start to see more wildlife and, depending on what time of day you're walking, seabirds will be quietly fishing on the banks. I usually see a couple of herons and egret's along the way. On weekends you'll meet some cyclists and certainly a number of dog walkers. 

You are spoiled with a changing landscape with this walk - on the left there are chalk hills and on the right rolling farmland. Every now and then you'll spot the coastal train snaking along the landscape - this is the train you'll be returning to Lewes on. 

You'll be so preoccupied with feasting your eyes on the all the beauty available on this walk with the landscapes, the flora and fauna and the flowing river that eventually you'll look back and be surprised at how far back Lewes is. The town looks so pretty from here. 

If you have a dog that likes water he/she will love dipping in and out of the water along the way. The current can get strong - Monty is a very strong swimmer but I definitely suggest being cautious throwing balls into the river for them. 

Around this time (an hour in) you'll be coming up to the turning to Rodmell, it's marked by a sign and if you wanted to go and check out the beautiful village and the historic Monk's House it's about a 20 minute walk from here. This is also the start of the new(ish) Egret's Way - a shared use path that will take you all the way to Newhaven). There are often cows around here but just be bold and walk straight through them, they won't take any notice of you! On a slightly more haunting note - it is also somewhere here that Virginia Woolf lined her pockets with stones and stepped into the river. 

After about 30-40 mins you should start seeing the Southease bridge in sight. When you arrive at it you can either cross it to get to the station or you can turn right so go and have a peek at the gorgeous Southease village with it's thatched cottages and cute church. 

If you have a wait for the train I wholeheartedly recommend crossing the railway line and a stop at the YHA - they serve lovely cakes, have clean toilets and you can sit outside in their pretty garden with nice views on a sunny day. As its situated on the South Downs Way route there are often lots of hikers and cyclists taking a break here and usually of good spirits. 

Southease station is very sweet. People mill about buying tickets and looking down the tracks from the bridge and it's quintessentially English.  

The train takes just 6 mins from Southease to Lewes which seems amazing when you've had such a fulfilling walk! It's lovely to gaze at the route you've just taken from the train - I like to wave at others following in my footsteps, they may not see me but it makes me smile. 

Let me know in the comments if you try this walk, and if you Instagram use tag #retreatwalks 

Formally Emma Gutteridge