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South Downs Walk
Stanmer to Streat

Nat Park - South Downs

County/Area - East Sussex

Author - Jean Blemings

Length - 12.5 miles / 20.3 km    Ascent - 1800 feet / 545 metres

Time - 8 hours 0 minutes    Grade - moderate

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Ordnance Survey Explorer OL11Sheet Map1:25kBUY
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Walk Route Description

Photo from the walk - Stanmer to Streat
Click image to visit gallery of 12 images.

The East Sussex walk in the South Downs National Park starts from the village pond in Stanmer Park just on the outskirts of Brighton & Hove. There are various parking bays throughout the park and the seasonal No 78 bus serves Stanmer village at weekends and the frequent 25/25A serves the adjoining Sussex University campus. There is also a railway station nearby at Falmer.

From the pond by the church (grid ref. TQ337095), follow the signposts up to the village where there are toilets and a tearoom. Walk past the tearoom up the main (only) village street between rows of pretty cottages. At the top of the street is another pond on your left and a track leading off at right angles also to the left. However carry straight on through the gate directly ahead and past a barn. Where the stony track forks again, keep to the right hand fork on the signed bridleway.

This track rises steadily uphill passing under some power lines at the crest of the hill where there is a crossroad of paths. Cross straight over to take the track heading slightly off to the left and downhill through woodland. A very pretty path but it can be slippery. Where the trees end, pass through a gate and follow the path along the valley. This stretch can be muddy at times. As you follow the path, it starts to climb up the side of the valley toward another gate where there is yet another crossroad of paths. Here take the footpath signed straight ahead but at a slight angle toward a visible stile. Cross over the stile and proceed on a defined path in a north easterly direction over undulating open downland.

When you reach a fence line turn left and follow the fencing walking parallel to a wider track on the other side of the fence which you will eventually join up with in due course. At the gate to Streathill Farm, use the stile beside the gate but only walk along the track to the farm for a few yards before locating and using another stile to your right which, gives access to the parallel track seen earlier. Once on the track, turn left and pass through a gate to continue onwards towards the South Downs Way (SDW). Before reaching the SDW you will pass another bridleway going off to the right but ignore this.

At the junction with the SDW turn left ignoring the first crossing which you come to almost immediately - an unmade road branching steeply downhill and the access road to Streathill Farm in the other direction. Continue westwards on the SDW and look carefully for a gate set into the fencing on your right after a quarter of a mile or so. Pass through this gate leaving the SDW and you will find yourself on a narrow path winding steeply downwards on the scarp slope of the downs. This path passes by the top of a V shaped plantation of trees planted for Queen Victoria's Jubilee in 1887 - hard to see from the path but you could try picking it out from the views back across to the downs later in the walk.

Follow the path as it contours ever downwards and eventually at the bottom of the hill you will emerge by the side of the B2116 opposite the gates to Middleton Manor. Carefully cross over the road and take the bridleway almost directly opposite but slightly over to your right. This starts as a pleasant tree-lined track but eventually narrows and becomes enclosed by hedgerows before eventually joining up with a concrete farm road, which you should continue to follow toward the buildings of Hayleigh Farm. Just before you reach the first house there is a crossroads of paths. Take the footpath off to the right, which leads across a couple of fields before joining up with a lane where you follow the waymarks to the right leading to the pretty little village of Streat.

After passing the church you join a lane but just by a road sign warning of zig zags ahead another unmade road leads off to the right eastwards past Crouchers End Farm and other pretty little habitations. Walk along this track but when the buildings come to an end on your right look for a footpath signed off to the right (south). Take this path which initially goes along a couple of field edges before skirting through a patch of woodland and crossing over a stream by the means of a footbridge with steps down to it. Exiting from the wood cross a field diagonally clipping the edge of another area of woodland. The next field also to be crossed diagonally was deep ploughed, so I walked around the edge picking up a farm track to reach a snaking path in woods that takes you through the wood but near to the edge of the trees.

Coming out to more fields the route was blocked by an arrangement of electric fences but with sections provided that unhooked to allow passage through. The whole of this last section was quite tricky to follow but was pretty much way marked and with the aid of a map and careful observation it is not really difficult to figure out the correct way through. Eventually you muddle your way through to emerge onto and turn right down a track leading down through the Plumpton Agricultural College complex. The track becomes a metalled road going past a playing field on the left and various college buildings on the right. Keep on the road through the buildings till eventually you come out again on the B2116.

If you need refreshment at this point you can leave the route of the walk on a footpath signed off to the left just before you come to the B road. This footpath soon bifurcates after crossing over a fence via a stile and the right hand fork leads across a field and comes out right by the Half Moon pub at Plumpton. There is a large children's play area plus of course food and drink and all the other usual facilities.

If you have been tempted by a visit to the pub retrace your footsteps back to where the road through the college comes out onto the B road, cross carefully and then look off slightly to the right for a bridleway continuing onwards. This is a typical Sussex bostal, first rising gently across fields at the foot of the downs before then turning to contour the gradient and climb more steeply upwards. Soon you come to a T junction with a ridged concrete track where you turn right to climb uphill but very shortly afterwards look for another gate and bridleway signed off to the left which takes you onto another contoured path along the side of the hill first leading steeply upwards then adopting a more comfortable gradient to climb more slowly.

Take time to admire the views as you climb up before eventually reaching the SDW again. Here you are on the flat expanse of the high plateau of Plumpton plain with the SDW a wide and often puddle strewn ribbon of blinding white chalk track. Turn left (eastwards) along the way approaching the tree clump summit of Blackcap. When you reach the next gate, which you should go through there is a choice of 5 paths. Here the SDW makes a sharp right but our path is not right or left or even onwards but diagonally to the right at 45 degrees between the SDW route and the general path onwards. This bearing leads you down to the treeline of the wooded bowl of Ashcombe bottom. Pass through a gate and you are on a narrow bracken lined path dropping downwards through the jungle like vegetation. Keep on this path for almost a couple of miles following the occasional way mark till eventually you come to another complex junction of paths.

Rather confusingly this is signed twice but the more accurate signing is the second lot of way marks where you take the bridleway signposted off to the right on a defined path leading up a hillside topped by a clump of trees. Pass through these trees and continue across open downland until you again cross over the route of the SDW. Follow the bridleway waymarks onwards through two gates and enter a scrubby contoured field. The line to take through this field is hard to define but you are aiming for a sort of semicircular route running along the slight contours of the field. Try to keep the patch of vegetation in the centre of the field to your left and climb slightly up contouring around the slight incline - if you have got the line right you will eventually come to a gate coming out onto an obvious chalk surfaced track.

Once through the gate, ignore the chalk track crossing over it but look for a narrow trodden path directly opposite leading onwards till you reach a narrower but very well trodden path by the side of a fence. Turn left along this path, which continues in a straightforward and easy manner leading eventually down towards the lane going into Falmer village. There are good views of downland both sides and with no route finding problems you can enjoy a mile or so of airy and pleasant walking. Another bridleway joins from the right but just continue ever onwards. Just as a tiny tinge of boredom with this straightforward and easy progress may be creeping in you are capitulated out onto a lane where you turn left.

After walking down the lane for perhaps a quarter of a mile or so take care to look out for a sign for the Falmer sports complex on your right. Turn along the concrete access road almost back on yourself and follow the road past the sports pitches on your right and the rather ugly sports complex building on your left. Continue on across the car parking area and out along the wooded road on the other side. As this road winds down through woodland you come to a larger busier access road marked one way. Cross over this road and continue in the same general direction on a winding pedestrian walkway past some of the university campus buildings (for engineering & design). You emerge out onto a wide road running through the campus along which you should continue. As you descend Boiler House Hill you do indeed pass a noisy boiler house building.

There are bus stops here where the No 25 service will stop and take you back into Brighton if by now you have had enough. To continue the walk keep following the road on the same heading with Arts Road becoming Library Road and passing under a tunnel of buildings right to its end and then around and up to the right past the university créche and toward a square grey concrete building called the Russell building. Walk past the front of this building and through a sort of parking area by a large heap of building debris and you come to a grassy area with a wooded fringe to your left.

Look for a narrow unsigned path into this woodland which you follow into the woods. Soon this intersects with a wider better used path where you turn right. Follow the path through the woods till you eventually reach a gate and emerge onto rough pasture land. If you look to your left you will see below you the spire of Stanmer church and our starting point. As this is all open access land you can make your way down to the church by whichever route you wish but as the field is quite rough and some of the vegetation prickly I suggest you keep to the defined path you can see heading down the side of the slope to your left. This leads to a gate which you can pass through to the grassy area of parkland edged by the perimeter road (take care in crossing). All that remains is to make your way back to the pond and perhaps visit the tearooms in the village to recover.


Other walks nearby

Walk 2684 Falmer to Pyecombe & Blackcap by South Downs Waymoderate8.8 miles
Walk 2236 Wolstonbury Hill and Pyecombe from Patchammoderate11.0 miles
Walk 3213 Pyecombe, Devil's Dyke & Upper Beedingeasy/mod8.0 miles
Walk 3487 Edburton Hill & Devil's Dyke from Saddlescombehard10.5 miles
Walk 3488 Devil's Dyke Circulareasy2.5 miles

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The South Downs Way Map Booklet

The South Downs Way Map BookletMap of the 100 mile (160km) South Downs Way National Trail, between Eastbourne and Winchester. This booklet is included with the Cicerone guidebook to the trail and shows the full route on OS 1:25,000 maps. The trail typically takes a week to walk and is suitable for most levels of ability.
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Further Information

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The South Downs is Britain's newest National Park and stretches from Winchester to Beachy Head. Steeped in history there are ancient hill-forts, barrows, a Roman road and deserted medieval villages. The area has a rich diversity of natural habitats including flower-studded chalk grassland, ancient woodland, flood meadow, lowland heath and the particularly rare chalk heathland. This varied environment provides an excellent basis for those who enjoy outdoor pursuits, such as walking, cycling and horse riding. More Information

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