Start point: Lewes railway station
Time: 1 hour
A short walk starting at Lewes railway station takes you up and over the South Downs to Glyndebourne.
This walk takes you through the historic town of Lewes, over the River Ouse to Cliffe High Street and up Chapel Hill to Southerham Farm Nature Reserve with open grasslands and panoramic views across the South Downs. The path over the South Downs is best accessed by public transport as there is very limited parking in Lewes. This guide starts from the railway station or you can skip straight to the walk.
Lewes railway station – Chapel Hill
Starting at the station, turn right out of the exit onto Station Road and follow the bridge over the railway line. At the end of the path turn right onto Lansdown Place (not the sharp right down Pinwell Rd that leads to the station car park). Follow Lansdown Place passing All Saints Centre on your left, a former church now used as an arts centre which can be easily spotted by the distinctive totem pole in the churchyard (pictured below).
Churchyard totem, All Saints Centre.
Keep on Lansdown Place until you reach the mini roundabout, head straight over onto Friars Walk and keep going until you reach a crossroads, turn right (in front of Boots) onto the pedestrianised High Street. Follow the High Street over the bridge looking out for the Harvey’s Brewery on your left and continue to the end of the road. At the end of Cliffe High Street you can see the start of Chapel Hill slightly to your right across the road. Cross over and walk up the road between Bags of Books and Alistair Fleming furniture shop.
Chapel Hill to Glyndebourne
Make your way up the charming Chapel Hill, this is the steepest part of the journey that lifts you out of Lewes and up onto the Nature Reserve, follow the road all the way to the end until you reach the Lewes Golf Club car park. The start of the trail is on the right hand side of the car park marked by a black ‘footpath’ signpost. Head through the gate onto Southerham Farm Nature Reserve. This walk takes you through a working farm so expect to see sheep or cattle grazing here. If you are walking with a dog it’s best to keep them on the lead whilst in the grazing fields.
Views of the South Downs from the nature reserve.
The path from here is easy to see, follow it along the field line skirting around the golf course until you reach a fork. Bear left and up towards to brow of the hill until you reach the next gate leading onto a grassy hillside. Filled with tall grasses and wildflowers the south facing slope is perfect for spotting butterflies and birds from Spring into late Summer. In Autumn low-lying shrubs turn red and the field boundaries are bursting with berries. Follow the track through the field, taking your time to enjoy the expansive views of the surrounding South Downs.
A worn wooden post marks the route to Glyndebourne.
At the end of the track, head through the gate into the next field. The path forks again here and again you’ll need to bear left and head towards the worn post marker. You should be able to see the Glyndebourne wind turbine in the distance, keep the marker and turbine to your left as you start on the track that takes you downhill towards Glyndebourne Opera House.
Views of the Glyndebourne turbine from under the Sycamore trees.
The track leads down under the shade of Sycamore trees before opening out to reveal once more the wind turbine, continue down the hill until you reach two concrete dew ponds one large and the other much smaller, the track here is faint but leads you between the two dew ponds and across the field to a stile hidden underneath the trees.
Follow the track between the dew ponds.
Climb over the stile and follow the track down the hill towards the final gate, you’ll see Glyndebourne Opera House nestled amongst the trees across the road. The gate exits onto New Road, directly opposite the entrance to Glyndebourne.
The last leg, keep left until you reach the gate.
If you’re visiting Glyndebourne, carefully cross the road and follow the signs to Set Down and then to the Box Office.
Previously published on Sussex Wanderer