South Downs Odyssey
Odýssey n. a long, wandering and eventful journey!

Here’s a question – which drink has more calories, a semi-skimmed latte or a half pint of Peroni? It’s an interesting answer, the coffee varies hugely according to size, but the average seems to be about 100 (and that’s always hoping you’ve been given the semi-skimmed as requested). The Peroni is 120 calories, [are we conveniently forgetting the compulsory packet of crisps that always accompany the beer?]

 the number of calories never varies and it is infinitely more refreshing and enjoyable. And thus, Peroni has become the regular refreshment after our various walks, and sometimes not just after walks!

Today we are walking from Alfriston to Exceat which actually only knocks 3 miles off the South Downs Way.  However, we had found a circular walk which would be 6.4 miles and would take us along the banks of the River Cuckmere and back to the start at Alfriston. Leaving at 8:30 we were in the Singing Kettle at Alfriston by 10:15 having our breakfast of toasted teacakes.  Other walkers were there eating having the full English, goodness knows how they will have managed to stand, let alone walk, after eating such huge platefuls.

South Downs Way legs

Leg 20

Alfriston to
 Cuckmere River (Exceat)

3 miles

On the wildlife front today we passed some Jacob sheep; there is a Jacob Sheep Society and they’ve even got their own website  (beat that cows!)

And then we came across a very testing flight of steps that had been cut into the hillside, presumably to prevent further erosion of the path.  We congratulated ourselves at the top, went along further and there was an even steeper lot of steps.  Like many stiles, some of these had been cut by giants with very long legs, and were extremely challenging.

We started off with a small detour of Alfriston before we found the path (well, we did say we wanted to look round this village) and were soon at the point where the South Downs Way splits into two routes that re-join again at Eastbourne.  Our section via the Seven Sisters is a footpath only.  Horse-riders and cyclists must use the alternative section via Jevington.  After a mile or so we were amazed to see a white horse carved into the hillside opposite.  We subsequently found out that during the 19th century, a chalk figure of a horse was cut into the downs to the west of the village of Litlington. The figure, known as the Litlington White Horse (duh!) replaced an earlier one of the lesser-known of the nine white horse figures located outside Wiltshire. It likely has been eclipsed by the nearby Long Man of Wilmington hill figure, which is probably why we hadn’t heard of it.

Steps this high!

But then we were at the top, rounded the corner and WOW!, the steps were worth it, what an awesome moment as we looked across the Cuckmere Valley and the river winding its way out to meet the English Channel. This had to be the lunch spot, and Round 20 of the sandwich competition – M&S chicken with stuffing v egg with Copse Close beetroot. Um, words fail me, suffice to say that the remainder is languishing on the Copse Close birdtable, even the magpies have turned down this delicacy!  

We made a quick visit to the Seven Sisters Country Park Visitor centre before starting the return journey.  The anticipated easy walk back along the river bank to the car was quite hard work as it was getting warmer but mainly due to the number of stiles (see previous eference to giants and long legs). Health and Safety would have had a field day as several were distinctly wobbly and some ingenuity was needed at times.

It also seemed to be a lot further and in fact the 6.4 miles had turned into 8 by the time we were back at the car.

Although we only did 3 miles of the SDW we had a really good day out, and are anticipating the next one – Seven Sisters here we come!

Not a ‘happy bunny’ - composing a letter to the SD National Park mid crawl!!

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Winchester to Cheesefoot Head

Sun 21 Sep 2014

3.5 miles


Cheesefoot Head to Beauworth

Sun 31 Aug 2014

5.5 miles


Beauworth to Exton

Sat 2 Aug 2014

4 miles


Exton to Old Winchester Hill

Mon 28 Jul 2014

3.125 miles


Old Winchester Hill to East Meon

Mon 5 May 2014

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East Meon to Petersfield

Sat 12 Apr 2014

4.5 miles


Q.E. Park to Harting Hill

Thu 10 Apr 2014

5.5 miles


Harting Hill to Cocking

Thu 17 Apr 2014

7 miles


Cocking to Duncton

Thu 15 May 2014

5.25 miles


Duncton to Bury Hill

Sat 23 Aug 2014

5 miles


Bury Hill to Storrington

Sat 23 May 2015

6 miles


Storrington to Washington

Fri 11 Sep 2015

4 miles


Washington to beyond Chanctonbury Ring

Sun 6 Sep 2015

2.75 miles


Chanctonbury Ring to Beeding

Sun 20 Sep 2015

4.5 miles


Beeding to Devil’s Dyke

Sun 4 Oct 2015

5.25 miles


Devil’s Dyke to Ditchling Beacon

Sun 5 Jun 2016

6 miles


Ditchling Beacon to Housedean Farm

Tue 21 Jun 2016

5 miles


Housedean farm to Southease

Sun 31 Jul 2016

7 miles


Southease to Alfriston

Tue 6 Sep 2016

7 miles


Alfriston to Cuckmere River

Mon 26 Sep

3 miles


Cuckmere River to Birling Gap

Fri 7 Oct

5 miles


Birling Gap to Eastbourne

Mon 10 Oct

5 miles