Lewes District Area
Tracing the South Downs Way with views across The Sussex Weald.
Start: Southease railway station (Lewes-to-Seaford line)
End: Berwick railway station (Lewes-to-Eastbourne line)
You can take bikes on trains except during peak hours. Normally only a few are allowed on any one train. There is very limited parking at Southease near the Youth Hostel. This ride can be linked to The Egrets Way if cycling from Lewes or Lifes a beach if wanting a longer ride to Seaford station.
Beginning at Southease you immediately join the South Downs Way and the climb up Iptford Hill. The route is on chalk and grass tracks the whole way to Alfriston. Be respectful of walkers and horse riders with busier areas being around Firle Beacon and Bo Peep car park.
Coming into Alfriston is a steep hill which turns to a tarmaced surface half way down. Watch your speed here as Alfriston is a busy little village and there will be traffic. You remain on country lanes and tarmaced bike paths all the way to Berwick station.
Please cross the A27 at the marked crossing location as this is a very busy road.
Want a map of the route to take with you? All our routes are available in the free Komoot app.
To make sure you can use it throughout your cycle, download Komoot’s mp for the region to use offline before you go. Don’t forget to like our routes in the Komoot app and share photos or highlights from your own adventures!
Your starting point at Southease station is at the southern end of Lewes Brooks, a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) encompassing 330 hectares of the River Ouse floodplain south of Lewes. It provides valuable habitats to range of wildlife, including rare amphibians, beetles and water birds.
The ride stretches up Itford Hill and over South Downs chalk grassland following the South Downs Way.
The chalk grassland is a big part of what makes this area so special and is the result of thousands of years of sheep grazing the landscape. In terms of diversity, it is Western Europe’s equivalent to the tropical rainforest. There are many species here that cannot be found anywhere else, including many orchids, wildflowers and rare butterflies, such as the Adonis Blue, Chalkhill Blue and Small Blue.
At the top of Iptford Hill there are great views down to the River Ouse valley and the port of Newhaven which is undergoing extensive redevelopment including the creation of The Sidings and a new restaurant area beneath Newhaven Fort.
Following the South Downs Way along the top of the downs you are very likely to hear farmland birds such as skylarks, yellowhammers and corn buntings, particularly in the spring and summer months.
At the foot of the scarp slope near Firle Beacon lies Charleston House, The modernist home and studio of the painters Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, Charleston was a gathering point for some of the 20th century’s most radical artists, writers and thinkers known collectively as the Bloomsbury group. Today there is a dynamic program of events, exhibitions and festivals that take place throughout the year.
The views of the Sussex Weald across to the Ashdown Forest AONB are fabulous from up on the top of the hills where you can also spot the rides end at Berwick Railway station near Arlington Resevoir which in the spring has one of the best bluebell woods in Sussex.
As you drop down off the downs into the Cuckmere valley you arrive at historic Alfriston one of the oldest villages in Sussex and steeped in smugglers and pilgrims history. Nearby is Rathfinny estate the regions largest vineyard and dedicated to producing some of the world finest vintage sparkling wines
From here its a short distance to the rides end at Berwick where it meets the Vanguard way.