Distance: 8.5 km. Elevation: 293 m. Difficulty: Medium to hard
From the A27 heading east, take the first proper left turn to Glynde (at the time of writing there was no sign to Glynde here). As you enter the village, go over the bridge and there is a car park immediately to your left. You’ll need an Ordnance Survey Explorer 11, although on this occasion the map said one thing, and local signage said something quite different.
Glynde to Mount Caburn
From the car park, turn left and after a short distance turn left again. Just after the village shop, you’ll see a footpath leading up to Mount Caburn. It’s 1.8 km from the car park to the summit but I think I’ll rename this hill “heart attack hill” because it feels like it goes vertically up. Eventually, and as you round the crest of the hill, you clearly see Mount Caburn to your left. Take a short deviation to conquer it.
Mount Caburn is a 146 metre hill and the highest part of an outlier of the South Downs, separated from the main range. This is also a National Nature Reserve so a haven for wildlife and home to the remains of an Iron Age hill fort where there are over 140 burial pits. Evidence of Roman-British occupation has been found here and it was probably also occupied by the Saxons and the Normans. Even on a grey and cloudy morning, it has the most magnificent views all around, including of the River Cuckmere and Glynde, and if you achieve nothing else apart from walking to the top, and then going home, well, it’s been time well spent! There’s a bench at the top from which to admire the view, but in winter, it’s jolly chilly!
Mount Caburn to Oxteddle Bottom
Return to the path you deviated from. This path runs all the way from Glynde to Lewes. That means if you ignore the deviation you have just taken you just follow the original path up and over the brow of the hill and straight down the other side. You’ll know you have arrived at Oxteddle Bottom because you’ll see a dew pond and you’re also into the Southerham Farm Nature Reserve here. But be warned, because although at this point the footpath is supposed to go straight on, in fact, there are gates left, right and straight on, and lots of notices saying that this is not a public footpath but the landlord owner has granted access.
We went left, right, and straight on in our search for the public footpath sign and there was none. In fact, following the most likely-looking path, we reached a point where it said no further access was permitted, and had to retrace our steps. From this point onwards, I did wonder if we were just being stupid. This is a well-trodden thoroughfare from Glynde to Lewes, how could we possibly be lost? But we were not alone, and we witnessed another group behind us looking equally bewildered! A footpath sign would be most helpful.
In the end, we took the right-hand path, until we spotted a style and then climbed over it and steeply upwards (I know now we should have gone straight on, not right). This is Bible Bottom and it was hard to tell if we were on a footpath or not. But we could see golf players in the distance and eventually found a path. If not by necessity, it’s worth stopping and looking back at this point, because the views are consistently incredible! The path we had reached runs from the Cuilfail Tunnel via Saxon Cross to Glyndebourne Opera House and we turned right onto it. It was the path we wanted to be on, and we had in fact, just cut the corner off our walk. If you take the middle path at the dew pond, you’ll eventually join this path and save yourself a vertical climb through the scrub. Bible Bottom is home to the Bible Enclosure which is a Medieval livestock enclosure. It’s also a Scheduled Monument but you can apparently only see it in certain light. It’s called the Bible Enclosure because it looks like a bible (apparently) although it used to be called the Devil’s Book.
Bible Bottom back to Caburn
Luckily, from here, you can see Mount Caburn clearly in the distance and you just have to follow the path back to it. You’ll pass a wind turbine and Saxon Cross, the site of a Medieval settlement site on the eastern side of Saxon Down and another Scheduled Monument. Back at Mount Caburn, just follow the path downhill to Glynde. There’s a rather gorgeous tearoom next to the shop, well worth a stop. Or head into Lewes.
This walk is all about the wildness of the South Downs. At certain points, it feels like the place that time forgot but it’s postcard picturesque and food for the soul! Even if you do get completely lost and end up going horizontally heavenward!
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