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Mount Caburn and the Right To Roam

Picture, looking east from Mount Caburn to Firle Beacon

This short walk up mount Caburn celebrates the success of the Ramblers’ “right to roam campaign and includes fabulous views and quiet countryside where you can wander at will. You can also combine this walk with a ramble round Lewes town.

Distance, Terrain and Time

5.7 km,  3.6 miles, 2 hours plus whatever time you want to spend exploring Mount Caburn and surrounding areas.

Obstacles

A couple of stiles.  Hilly

Start and finish points

Start Lewes  railway station or bus station.  Finish Glynde station.

Getting there

Trains run to Lewes from Brighton, Hastings, Eastbourne, Seaford and London.  Buses run from Tunbridge Wells, Brighton and the surrounding countryside

Trains run hourly from Glynde station throughout the week.  Buses run from Glynde Station and Glynde post office 2 hourly to Lewes Monday to Saturday daytime.

For bus and train times see Traveline South East

Date researched

8/8/13

Ordnance Survey maps

Explorer series number 122 Landranger series 198

Refreshments

Extensive in Lewes,  Shop and Little CottageTea room with garden in Glynde Wed-Sat. Trevor Arms pub by Glynde Station

Public toilets

A number en route in Lewes.  At the recreation ground just north of the station at Glynde.

Route instructions

Leave Lewes station by the main entrance.  Turn right.  Pass toilets on the right.

1)Turn right at The Lansdowne Arms.  Follow the road into the centre of town.  It bears left.

2)Turn right at a junction, with traffic lights, along the a pedestrianized shopping street, walking east. (If you are coming from the bus station cross the road to Waitrose, turn right, walk for 100 metres and then turn left to join the route here.  There are a number of shops, cafes and pubs.

3) At the end of the street cross the road and go straight ahead, next to the Bags of Books bookshop.  This is Chapel Hill.  It turns to the right and starts ascending steeply.  Look out for views on your right and also cars on this narrow road.  Towards the end of the hill there is a steep drop on the right, although it is fenced off.  Be careful.

At this point there is an alternative route which avoids the golf club.  Turn right at point three along attractive South Street.  At the end of this street continue straight ahead on a footpath.  The river Ouse is on your right, but a busy road is on your left.  Walk along to a traffic island.  Cross the road here and walk into the industrial estate.  Take the first turn on the right and walk to the end of the estate, where you go past a car park.  The road turns into a country lane and bears left.  Look for a footpath sign on your left.  A slightly overgrown path climbs to meet the main route after the golf club.

4) Reach the golf club house.  The road turns into a car park.  Keep right. Note the posts which the golf club has erected to keep cars off the path.  Keep to the right of these.  Immediately after the car park the path turns left through a gate and you can see the downland before you.  The path ahead to the east is fairly clear.  At first it maintains its height.  Then it begins to descend, in a south east direction, into Oxteddle bottom.  At this point the alternative route joins the main route. At the bottom, you will see a gate. Go through this and follow the path straight ahead.

You are now on access land.  For over 50 years the Ramblers Association campaigned for the right to wander freely over uncultivated land in England and Wales, a right our ancestors took for granted before the enclosure of land in the 18th and 19th centuries. Why, we argued, should penned in city dwellers not be able to escape to open land if they did no harm?

 

At the beginning of this century we achieved the statutory  freedom to roam freely over unimproved  mountain, moor, heath, downland and registered common land.  In many areas huge tracts of land were made available to walkers.  But in the Downs things are more complicated. It can be hard to tell the difference between land which has been improved for cultivation and land which has not.  For example the valley bottom that you have just left is treated as improved land so is excluded.

 

However if you took the alternative route the path you walked on when you left the road was a route opened up as part of the creation of access land.

 

Explorer maps show where access land is.  It is shown marked in light yellow with  brown edges.  Quite a lot of the next bit of the walk, including Mount Caburn, is access land, and I encourage you to explore it.  You can explore, play, botanise, sit and take in the view or have a snack. Obviously, you must do no damage.

 

6)At the next gate, do not follow the right of way, which goes slightly to the left up the hill, but instead take a path slightly to the right, which ascends on the right side of a fence. All the land in this field is access land.

7) At the top turn right and climb to the top of Mount Caburn, for grand views in all directions. You may meet a number of paragliders.  If the weather is half way decent this is a great place for a lunch stop. Mount Caburn is, according to Natural England  “one of the best preserved and most important hill-forts in Sussex The first (inner) rampart of the fort was constructed in the Middle Iron Age (c. 400BC) and encloses 1.9 hectares.  This was extended by the addition of a second rampart, probably during the Saxon period (around 800 AD) as a defence against Viking raids.  Archaeologists have found evidence that the camp was in continuous use, up to the Norman invasion in the 11th century. Nearby is the ‘Ranscombe’ hill fort of similar antiquity. The commanding position of the Caburn was clearly of great importance in an age when the sea came much further into the Ouse valley than is the case today.”


 

Picture, looking north west from Mount Caburn towards Lewes

When you wish to move on retrace your steps to shortly after point 7.  Turn right here immediately after a fence.  Follow the fence east.  Where the fence turns right keep straight ahead to walk downhill towards a stile.  Cross the stile and continue downhill with the fence on your right.  Enter a smaller field.  The route goes slightly right aiming for a stile on the other side of the field, in the middle of the hedge. Cross this and turn left along the road.

8)You will see the shop and post office and the Little Cottage tea room and gardens on your right.  There is a bus stop on the left if you want to get the bus back to Lewes here. (The bus will come from the road to the south.)

(About 150 metres to the left here is Glynde House which is occasionally open to the public.)

To continue, turn right and walk past the recreation ground and toilets to the bridge over the railway.  The entrance to the station is just before the bridge.  Just over the bridge is the Trevor Arms.