- Terrain: woodland
- Duration: 4 hours
- Difficulty: easy
- OS map: OS 122
- Train ticket: Return ticket from Lewes
South Downs way is a 100 miles hiking route from Winchester to Eastbourne. On a windy summer day, we took the train from London Victoria and hiked the Hassocks to Lewes section. The hike is overall fairly easy. A short but steep ascend outside Hassock landed us on the South Downs Way trail, and the route stays high and flat all the way till Lewes. For the major part of the trail passes farmland and woodland, with continuous great views over the villages in the valley. But our biggest highlights are the blackberries! At the end of the hike we had collected our smoothies and berry compote for the following week!
Our hike started at Hassock station. Just outside the station there is a footpath running along the railway track in woodlands. It is a pleasant walk with delightful blackberry bushes and woodland along the path. The blackberries just become in season and grow everywhere on this path. We picked a bunch of them, and it probably took us twice as long to complete this section.
The woodland path ends at a road junction at Clayton. Crossing the roads we kept following the sign to South Down Way. The path quickly ascends along a steep slope towards Jill Windmill. It is open for most Sunday afternoons in summer. There were many people around the windmill so it must be a popular destination.
After the windmill we were on the official Southdown Way. It became very windy on the hills but we had a fine view over the valleys. The path is wide and well maintained, no wonder we greeted so many families with kids and dogs on the way.
We walked passed several farm lands. Horses, cows and lambs were peacefully grazing on the land, a typical English countryside scene. Whenever the view become a bit repetitive we found ourselves some blackberry bushes to hunt around.
Early afternoon we descended into Lewes, a pretty English town with traditional houses. The town itself was very quiet because most shops were closed. Following the usual rules we found ourselves a nice looking pub with no sports TV(can be a bit tricky on Sundays):The Pelham Arms. When we found out that the Sunday Roasts were still serving, we immediately ordered the only remaining portion of roasted pork with vegetables. It went down so nicely with beer, something we truly appreciate after a day walk.
Places of interests
St John the Baptist, Clayton(An old church with beautiful wall paintings we apparently missed)
Jill Windmill at Clayton
The Pelham Arms