1 - Face The Ram Inn, which is more than 500 years old. Just beyond the car park, go along the footpath to the right. On reaching the cricket ground on the right, turn left to go through a kissing-gate to the right of a tennis court.

Go diagonally right across the field and through another kissing-gate, then along the left-hand field edge towards large white gates at the entrance to Firle Place, also with a history spanning more than 500 years. More of this will be seen nearer the end of the walk. Use the smaller pedestrian gate on the right to follow the drive out to the road.

Cross the road to go along the footpath directly opposite and to the left of a post box. In 300 yards, follow around to the left of a barn and then continue on a field path in a westerly direction. On the way, pass through two field gates before coming to a farm, then go over a stile, along the drive to a road and turn left opposite a post box.

2 - [If arriving by train, turn right (south) from the station exit and along the road towards the main road (A27). Cross with great care and go up the minor road opposite and past a post box on the right.] Go up the minor road for about 500 yards and, where the tarmac ends, continue on a byway, climbing steeply towards two radio masts which can be seen on the crest of the hill. Nearing the top, the track veers around to the right, offering views to the right over Lewes and beyond.

At the top there is a crossway with a fingerpost indicating the South Downs Way.

3 - Turn left along the South Downs Way, passing to the left of the radio masts which are on Beddingham Hill. Looking south, there are views towards Newhaven and Seaford.

Continue on the clear track until coming to the car park at the top of Firle Bostal (a small road leading up a hill). Pass under the height barrier, then in a short distance go through a gate on the left to follow the South Downs Way in an easterly direction.

Continue for about three quarters of a mile where there are now extensive views to the north over Firle village and beyond. There are also seats on which to rest and enjoy the views.

4 - On coming to a finger-post, there is now the option to go a further quarter of a mile to Firle Beacon. At 217 metres (more than 700 feet) above sea level, it is the highest point along this stretch of the South Downs.

The concrete pillar is an Ordnance Survey Triangulation Station, commonly known as a Trig Point. There are panoramic views from here and the water of Arlington Reservoir can be seen towards the east. When the prevailing wind is northerly, this site is often used for gliding activities, so beware of low-flying objects!

From here, turn and retrace the route to the fingerpost at point 4, then bear right on another bridleway. Alternatively, if not going to the Beacon, turn sharp left on the other bridleway.

Follow this as it goes downhill, gently at first in a north-westerly direction, then more steeply as it veers around to the north alongside woodland on the left. To the north-east, Firle Tower can be seen among trees in Firle Park; dating from 1819, it was built as a game-keepers’ lookout, so no poaching, please!

5 - The bridleway now levels out and, on coming to a T-junction, turn right on a byway for 200 yards. At the next junction turn left on a bridleway. Follow this for 400 yards and then turn left through a small gate on a public footpath through the grounds of Firle Place. It is now necessary to follow the wooden marker posts in a westerly direction. Unfortunately, these are spaced a little too far apart for ease of seeing the next one.

However, keep the distance from the house and cross the main drive. The house is open to the public from Sundays to Thursdays if a visit is desired.

Now veer left to follow a track in a south-westerly direction towards a gate. Go through the small side-gate and continue along the track until emerging into the village by the Post Office.

6 - To visit the 13th-century parish church of St Peter, go up the road beyond the Post Office and in a very short distance turn left up the long straight path through the churchyard.

The main entrance to the building is to the right. It is usually open during daylight hours, so take a look inside. Particularly noticeable are the very colourful hassocks.

In the entrance porch is a large noticeboard giving details about the Firle Thank You Tree. On returning through the churchyard, the tree in question, adorned with colourful ribbons, is to be seen over to the left From the Post Office, follow the road down, back to The Ram Inn and/or the car park. To return to Glynde Station, follow the directions from points 1 to 2, then retrace road-walking down to the station.

  • Distance/Time: Six and a half miles/two and three-quarter hours; half a mile less if not going to Firle Beacon; an extra one and a quarter miles if starting from Glynde Station.
  • By Car: Use car park (free) on entering Firle Village (south of A27 between Lewes and Polegate); alternatively, go beyond The Ram Inn to park where the road is wider near the Post Office.
  • By Public Transport: Trains to Glynde (on the Coastway line from Brighton and Hastings), then follow the directions from point 2. Buses from Lewes (limited service). Timetable information from Traveline: 0871 2002233 or www.traveline.info
  • What’s underfoot: Mostly good field and downland paths and tracks, only one stile and one steep climb.
  • Thirsty Work: The Ram Inn, Firle; also, Firle Place Tearoom (open Sunday to Thursday, noon to 4.30pm).
  • So you don’t get lost: OS Explorer 123 or Landranger 198, plus a compass for general direction.

Click here for a full-sized map of the Firle circular walk