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Firle Beacon and the South Downs Way

There are currently 2 comments and 2 photos online for this walk.

Firle Beacon and the South Downs Way
Author: clairesharpuk, Published: 15 Jan 2014 Walk rating : Rating:star1 Firle Beacon and the South Downs Way Walking Guidestar1 Firle Beacon and the South Downs Way Walking Guidestar1 Firle Beacon and the South Downs Way Walking Guidestar1 Firle Beacon and the South Downs Way Walking Guidestar1 Firle Beacon and the South Downs Way Walking Guide
East Sussex, South Downs
Walk Type: Hills, valleys and dales
Firle Beacon and the South Downs Way
Length: 5 miles,  Difficulty: boot Firle Beacon and the South Downs Way Walking Guide boot Firle Beacon and the South Downs Way Walking Guide boot Firle Beacon and the South Downs Way Walking Guide boot Firle Beacon and the South Downs Way Walking Guide
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A 4.5 mile circular walk, close to the East Sussex village of Firle. The walk includes a long stretch of the South Downs Way, taking in Firle Beacon and giving you chance to enjoy views for miles around and out to the sea at Eastbourne. After your walk there are plenty of local places to visit, should you wish to make a full day of it. There’s Charleston Farmhouse (open April to October), where you’ll learn more about the Bloomsbury Group who made this their country home, or Middle Farm (open all year) where you can try some of the national collection of cider and perry.

The walk follows grass and mud paths and tracks on the South Downs, some of which at lower levels can get very muddy after periods of wet weather. There is one long and fairly steep descent and an equivalent fairly steep ascent to negotiate. The route includes a few gates but no stiles. You may be sharing some of the paths with livestock, including Exmoor ponies. Approximate time 2.5 hours.

The walk starts from the free South Downs Way car park (which has a height restriction barrier) above the village of Firle, at the top of the road called Firle Bostal. Leave the A27 on the road signed to Firle (0.5 miles) and you will reach a road junction with the entrance gates of Firle Place ahead. Keep right here on the narrow road marked as a no through road. Where the main road bends hard left, fork right again onto Firle Bostal Road. Follow this road for some distance and it will lead you to the top of the South Downs where you will find the car park on the left. Nearest post code BN8 6LR (this is for a farm beyond the car park).

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Walk Sections

Start to Firle Beacon
Start to Firle Beacon

Start point: 50.8335 lat, 0.0839 long
End point: 50.8338 lat, 0.1083 long

Walk the length of the car park, heading away from the height restriction barrier. Just before the end of the car park, fork left through a wooden gate, onto the path marked with the blue arrow for the South Downs Way, heading east. (Note: there may be livestock grazing on these hillsides, so take care with dogs).

Follow the obvious path ahead, enjoying the spectacular views across the valley to the left. This hillside is popular with paragliders and on clear breezy days you’ll be able to see the colourful fabric canopies soaring in the sky.

The path bends a little right, running alongside a fence to the right. The views soon open up across to the south coast over to the right. Continue on this ridge top path for some distance. The South Downs Way, one of 15 National Trails in England and Wales, runs for 100 miles from Winchester (in Hampshire) to Eastbourne (in East Sussex).

After some distance you will pass a tower on a small hillside down in the valley to the left. This was built in 1819 by the third Viscount Gage (of the nearby Firle Place) as a gamekeeper’s cottage. It was placed on a hill so that the gamekeeper could signal any danger to the keeper of the deer park at nearby Ringmer (which also belonged to Lord Gage). A little further along you will reach the trig point at Firle Beacon.

Firle Beacon to Crossroads
Firle Beacon to Crossroads

Start point: 50.8338 lat, 0.1083 long
End point: 50.8361 lat, 0.1175 long

Firle Beacon sits at 217 metres high and has commanding 360 degree views. Keep your eyes peeled for Exmoor ponies, which are used to graze the steep slopes of the downland here.

Continue along the South Downs Way for a little distance further. At about 11 o’clock you’ll have views out to Eastbourne and the sea beyond. After passing a couple of small sections of gorse immediately alongside the path, you’ll see a waymark post marking a crossroads with another path. Turn left here to join the slightly sunken grass path, heading downhill and swinging left.

Pass through a gate and continue on the bridleway heading steadily downhill – take care as the chalk surface can be quite slippery when wet. At the bottom of the chalk slope, pass through the next gate and continue on path with a small belt of woodland to the left. You will emerge to a major crossroads of paths.

Crossroads to Path Junction
Crossroads to Path Junction

Start point: 50.8361 lat, 0.1175 long
End point: 50.8419 lat, 0.0939 long

Turn left here to join the wide track which climbs steadily and swings slightly right. Follow this track for some distance.

Across to the right is Charleston Farmhouse. In 1916 the artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant moved here and over the following years it became the country meeting place for the Bloomsbury Group. Famous members of the group that were frequent visitors included Virginia Woolf and EM Forster. The house and grounds are open to the public from April to October each year.

As you emerge from a section between hedgerows, ahead you will see a pretty stone cottage and at about 1 o’clock you’ll have another great view of the hillside gamekeeper’s tower. The track leads you to a T-junction with the stone cottage (actually a pair of cottages, numbers 84 and 85) directly opposite. This is part of the Old Coach Road, once home to many more properties, hence the strange high numbered properties sitting in isolation here. In the summer months the garden is open to the public as Beanstalk Tea Garden (dogs are also welcome).

Keep left at this T-junction and follow the track as it swings right around the boundary of the pretty tea garden. Follow this track for some distance, until you reach the path junction with a major track turning to the left (through double gates and marked with a blue arrow).

Path Junction to End
Path Junction to End

Start point: 50.8419 lat, 0.0939 long
End point: 50.8336 lat, 0.0843 long

Turn left through the gates to join this track, heading steadily uphill. You will reach a gate ahead, pass through this into the access land. Take the path at about 1 o’clock heading steeply uphill. A little way up the path forks, keep right on the steeper narrower branch.

If you need a moment to catch your breath on the way up, it is a good opportunity to turn round and enjoy more of the views stretching north. As you reach the top, you’ll come to a T-junction with the South Downs Way, the path you used for your outward leg. Keep right along this path which will lead you back to the car park where the walk began.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2014 by the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.


2 responses to "Firle Beacon and the South Downs Way"

Amazing walk! And a very good guide too! Make sure you stop in at Beanstalk Tea Garden - a little hidden gem & quintessentially English garden - the Lavender & Lilac homemade cake was beautiful!

By sebird on 2014-06-08 17:27:23

Stunning views and easy to follow. We just went wrong near the end on the (very steep) ascent. The fork wasn't as obvious as we had hoped. A lovely walk

By oliviagmwest on 2016-10-26 22:02:33

The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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2 images to "Firle Beacon and the South Downs Way"

2792_0Richard1389821228 Firle Beacon and the South Downs Way Walking Guide Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970
This is the last part of the walk climbing back to the South Downs Way. It was muddy and hard going when we did it. Our friends and dogs are striding out ahead...
2792_0Richard1389821315 Firle Beacon and the South Downs Way Walking Guide Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970
Time for a snap shot at the Beacon.

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