Alciston etc






Alciston, Berwick church, Charleston Farmhouse and Firle.


The 125  weekdays and 25 saturdays  bus to Alfriston from Lewes (not Sunday) goes via three pleasing villages nestling under the Downs to the East of Lewes. So, let’s take advantage of this to take a walk through the villages and either up or alongside the adjacent Downs.

The walk is presented with three possible routes. taking in either all three, or just two of the villages, each with its own character and individual church and pub. It includes Berwick church, with its famous 20th century murals, and allows for a visit to the artists’ home at Charleston Farmhouse. It starts at Alciston but that is only because the Rose Cottage pub at Alciston is my personal favourite (2017, alas currently closed). However, opinions vary, and any of the villages could be used as a setting off point. The shorter walk involves Alciston, Berwick, the Downs and Charleston Farmhouse. The extended walk includes Firle. Alternatively, either circuit can be done without actually having to walk up the hills at all (see waymark 4), so you have plenty of choice.

The 125 stops at Firle and on the A27 just outside Berwick and Alciston. Berwick Station is about a mile from the village and there’s a community bus that meets the train at weekends and public holidays.

Car park in Firle, Parking near the churches in the other two villages.

The full walk is about 14 km long and takes 3 hours, with an elevation of 200m.

The shortened walk, not including Firle, is 10km and takes 2hrs 30 min.

These times do not include visits to Charleston Farmhouse, the churches nor the pubs, all of which are worth seeing.

1Grid refTQ 50576 05596 N50.83025 E0.13679

Start at the entrance to Alciston Church. Walk in front of the church grounds. Then a quick right left to get the hedge on your left and Berwick church spire ahead.

2 Grid ref TQ 51168 05301 N50.82745 E0.14507

Turn left at the hedge then shortly after turn right to walk through a field. In Berwick the pub is to your left but the route is right to the church. Just before the church take the twitten between the church and houses.

3 Grid ref TQ 51856 04886 N50.82354 E0.15466

At the end of the twitten turn right along the lane and follow this lane round to the left towards the hills.

4 Grid ref TQ 51407 04749 N50.82243 E0.14823

Turn right, towards a building, then take the footpath up the hill on the left. Where this footpath starts to breaks up, near some humps, take an acute turn left to go through a gate and up.

Alternately you could take the less strenuous route by staying on the Lane, past the building. This goes between all three villages.

5 Grid ref TQ 50560 03960 N50.81556 E0.13589

At the top follow the sign to the Bridleway and turn right along the broad path that constitutes the South Downs Way.

6 Grid ref TQ 49042 05400 N50.82889 E0.11494

If you are going to Firle, it's straight ahead here.

Otherwise coming up the hill from Bo Peep car park, as the masts come into view over on your left, watch out for a footpath sign on a post to your right. This goes down to Charleston Farmhouse. Cross over Comp Lane, pass Tilton Farm and, at the point where the lane turns right to go to the road, Charleston Farm house is up to the left. Note that the next waymark here is now no. 10.

7. Grid ref TQ 48010 05920 N50.83383 E0.10051

Shortly after Firle Beacon turn right and down at the marker post. Very gently down at first then steeply. Turn left on Comp Lane to reach Firle

8 Grid ref TQ 47010 07220 N50.84576 E0.08684

At the fork in the road after the church, at the post office, the route is to the right (the pub is to the left). Follow the private lane round as it bears right. Through the gate and continue along as far as the tarmac lane towards Firle Place.

9 Grid ref TQ 47300 07400 N50.84731 E0.09103

At the junction of your lane and the tarmac lane the footpath is not clear nor is it currently signposted. Strike off on the grass on a line to your right, which bisects the two lanes. You will soon see a couple of low slung cottages ahead. In front of these is a reassuring signpost. Walk between the two cottages to an old iron gate and the way back is essentially straight from here.

10 Grid ref TQ 49270 06850 N50.84186 E0.11877

Waymark 10 is the point where the Lanes from Charleston Farm and Tilton Farm meet. Take the footpath which is straight ahead as you come down the lane from Charleston Farm. This would be a sharp right turn if you were coming from Tilton Farm.

11Grid refTQ 50540 06410 N50.83758 E0.13661

Left on the road then almost immediately right onto the footpath. Down and over the stream then turn up and left to get back to Alciston.




the church is in a grand setting but rather austere inside. The pub, however, the Rose Cottage, is rather jolly, (closed 2017) serving rustic home-made food and providing takeaway oven-ready rabbit. Near the church are some ancient buildings, noteably a medieval dovecot and Tithe Barn. Alciston

the church is famous for its 20th Century murals Painted by Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell, members of the Bloombury Group. Atheists all, and a Brave decision by the Bishop.

You will find a detailed desciption of the murals on this link Berwick Church (Bloomsbury in Berwick link) and some details of the Bloomsbury artists at Tate/Bloomsbury

The pub is The Cricketers: terribly pretty and ever-popular, serving good food and beer from the barrel.

the church is 14th and 15th Century

The pub is The Ram: 17th Century, with an extensive programme of events, serving popular meals
. Firle

Firle Beacon:
the 'earthworks' were once incorrectly described as ancient, but actually are the remains of the base of a windmill which stood on this site.

The Wind Turbine

Belongs to Glyndebourne and has not been without controversy.

Charleston Farmhouse

was the country home of the Bloomsbury Group. It contains unique examples of Vanessa Bell's and Duncan Grant's decorative and gardening styles, produced over a period of sixty years. There's an annual literary festival there in May. Charleston


alciston 2

Shorter alternative