The detailed route follows this narrative
Jevington is tiny, but it has a delightful old church whose tower was built by the Saxons circa AD900, during King Alfred's reign. A monastery once stood opposite the church. Almost half the buildings are listed and most date between 200-300 years old. The "Eight Bells" pub is one example and has a garden with fine downland views too.
Further along the high street, the "Hungry Monk" restaurant serves fine food. It used to be known as the "Monks Rest." It is well named now, as unless you have a reasonable bank balance, you are likely to leave it still hungry. The place has got awards and the owners are credited with inventing the Banoffi pie about 20 years ago. If your budget is tight, all is not lost. Just down the street is the Jevington tea garden. This is another gem of a place. Great scones and teas in a peaceful garden location. They also do B&B.
Jiggs cottage, where the walk leaves the village, is named after a notorious smuggler who once owned the Eight Bells. He organised the smuggling of contraband from the nearby Birling Gap and distributed it from Jevington. The last he was heard of, was in 1799, when he was convicted of horse-stealing and transported to a new life in the penal colony of Botany Bay in Australia. The clergy were reckoned to be partial to duty free liquor too and the rectory had it's cellar enlarged to accommodate the barrels of illicit spirits etc.
Evidence of wealth dots the countryside with manor houses and substantial farmhouses. In the nearby hamlet of Filching, a motor museum at Filching Manor, houses a private collection of veteran and vintage cars. Sir Malcolm Campbell's Bluebird, which broke records in the 1930s is kept there.
Further on the walk, you pass Friston Manor with Speedwell (veronica persica), Scarlet Pimpernel (anagallis arvensis) and nettles (urtica dioica) for company. A flintstone wall surrounds this old complex and from there you ascend gently to a nondescript wood which has a colony of large striped bluebells in Spring. This is a stone's throw to Crowlink church. A lily pond lies opposite, with weeping willow slightly obscuring the view. The isolated hamlet of Crowlink in Gap Bottom is also very old and beautiful.
Between there and the cliffs, the hedges are stuffed with blackberries, damsons and sloes of very good quality.
The Seven Sisters are justifiably renowned for their beauty. There are actually eight of them and you only top four on this walk, but you can always start from Eastbourne and cover Beachy Head, passing Belle Tout lighthouse and the Birling Gap to finish at the Golden Galleon at Cuckmere haven.
There are always things to see on the cliffs. Rabbits help erode the cliffs, but also keep the grass very short. This, in turn allows smaller cliff dwelling plants to flourish. A pink flowering plant rather like purple saxifrage (saxifraga oppositifolia) grows sparsely, as does a four petalled yellow flower, rather like Sweet William. One of the real treasures is a colony of Adonis Blue butterflies (lysandra bellargus) on one of the last Sisters. The males are an intense blue which is reputed to become iridescent for about a week in the year. They breed twice a year, in Spring and late Summer. During this period, you are likely to see migrating Wheatears (oenanthe oenanthe) here too. With their distinctive eye-stripe and white rump, they are noticeable for their nervous activity.
The Seven Sisters and Cuckmere Haven.
Cuckmere Haven is a wild looking place despite the large numbers of visitors who invade it year round, ourselves included. Yet, it is possible to spot uncommon birds there. Little Egrets occasionally turn up and Peregrine falcons nest in the cliffs to the West.
The Golden Galleon was packed when we arrived. We thought about moving on, but were getting hungry, so opted to stay and wait. We didn't have long to wait. They are well used to vast numbers of hungry and thirsty hordes and cleared the queue in no time. We had salad with water-melon and I had a refreshing pint of real ale, name forgotten.
The journey took us back into the Friston forest through West Dean and over the Charleston Bottom with long unfolding views. Environments such as the South Downs are rare, with their mix of rolling hills, deep green woods and brilliant chalk-white soil. It's a pity it is not more extensive, the walking is ever-changing and enchanting.
From Fore Down, looking towards Litlington.
Map: Explorer 123. Distance: 14.49 km (9 miles)
From the Eight Bells pub in Jevington, turn right along the road and head south. A footpath opens up to the right which leads to the church via the churchyard. Next take the drive to the left of the church which leads to the high street. Turn right, opposite the "Hungry Monk" restaurant and keep to the right hand side of the road.
When you reach Jiggs cottage on the left, turn right, and pass through some metal gates at the end of this short road. This takes you onto a dusty track which leads uphill to the ridge above.
Going through a wooden fence at the top, you have a choice. If it is pleasant, turn left at a wide grassy path and walk along the ridge. If it is hot, continue ahead into the Friston Forest.
At a broad metalled track, turn left. After some way, the track bends to the right slightly and a cycle path leads off diagonally up to the left.
At a junction with another cycle path, keep ahead as the path gets a little unkempt. Just after a pile of jumbled cut and broken wood and a depression on the left, turn right.
This path winds right and then left before meeting a wide grassy track. Turn left. Shortly you rejoin the grassy track on the ridge. You should see the water tower in the distance ahead. Take the downhill bridleway signposted to Friston. This leads to an opening in a hedge between an elder and a beech tree and continues downhill.
When you reach a partly metalled crossing track, keep on downhill to join a narrow footpath to the left of a lane. The path joins the lane after 100metres. Cross the lane to a gate above some steps in the wall. This is signposted to East Dean.
Go slightly left to cross the field. A couple of trees stand beside it this side of the wall. Go over the wall via a weighted kissing gate. Cross another lane slightly left to more steps and over a wooden stile.
This time head roughly south for the far left corner. The path is smoother than the surrounding grassland. A stile takes you into a narrow woodland path.
Keep heading uphill first with the fence on your right and then where a line of telegraph poles go off to your right, bear left, keeping the paling fence around the pumping station on your left.
At the end of this path turn left to go over a stone stile to the road. Go over the grassy triangle towards Crowlink church and follow the lane beside the church to Crowlink. After the National Trust car park, when the lane bends to the right, continue ahead (south) for 100 metres, then turn right.
When the hamlet of Crowlink appears below, aim for the nearest corner, this takes you over a stile into a tiny meadow to the lane through Crowlink. Turn left on the lane. A gate with a blue arrow gives access to a valley bottom. Keep to the right hand hedge.
Pass a dew pond on your right and continue until you reach the sea. Once there, turn right and follow the coastline up and down, up and down, up and down until you are overlooking the Cuckmere haven with it's shingle beach and inland lagoons.
Up and down the Seven Sisters. The Lagoons, Cuckmere Haven.
Cross over a stile and head downhill half right aiming towards the lagoons. A green sign points to the right and says "To the beach." Follow this chalky path gently downhill towards some concrete pill boxes.
At the bottom of the slope, go left through a gate and head to another gate, keeping to the right edge of the lagoons. Go through this gate, then turn right to a raised path over the marsh to another raised path. Turn right here and keep on it until you reach the road beside the Golden Galleon pub. Treat yourself to a decent pint and vittles.
Turn right from the Golden Galleon along the road . When you pass the car park for the visitor centre, cross the road to the left and walk uphill past the cycle hire shop. Go through a wooden gate, then a stone stile at the top, turn right and then left, descending to West Dean via a long flight of log steps.
At the bottom, pass the pond and Forge cottage on your left and go straight uphill. Where the road bends to the right, carry straight on to follow the South Downs Way. Pass the Glebe, go through some gates and keep going ahead and uphill to a track.
When the South Downs Way turns left, keep going straight uphill on a forestry track. At the top, turn right on a very wide chalky track. Where this meets a major track, turn left. At a junction of paths, carry on ahead and pass through a wooden gate.
Go through the next gate and into the woods. This path joins a track heading left and sign-posted to Jevington.
Keep to this track ignoring paths and a metalled crossing track. The path becomes a dirt track ahead and meets the broad crossing grassy track above Jevington.
The track down to Jevington.
Carry straight over to the rough track downhill to Jevington. When you reach the road, turn left and retrace your steps to the Eight Bells.