1 - If arriving by train, exit Falmer Station on the north side, turn left (which may appear to be the wrong direction), ascend the steps ahead and cross the wide bridge over the railway; then turn left towards the Amex Stadium. This imposing community stadium, now the home of Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club, was completed in 2011 after a protracted planning battle, which villagers and conservationists lost, attempting to save this area of downland from being developed. Pass to the left of the stadium and ascend steps to the upper car park. Go to the exit and turn left into Village Way. Cross The Drove (B2123) road at the traffic lights into Park Street opposite.

On entering Park Street, by car or on foot, go past Park Farm Shop on the left towards Falmer (south), then straight ahead where there is a large pond on the left. There are ample seats here, providing an excellent spot for a picnic, or observing and photographing the water fowl.

Go around the bend to the left into East Street to see on the right, and possibly visit, the parish church dedicated to St Laurence. There has been a church here since the 11th century but the present building with its tower and clock dates from 1817.

The name Falmer is from the Saxon “Falemere”, which is recorded in the 11th-century Domesday Book. Notice the many old flint-stone buildings along the streets surrounding the village pond, including the old school, which is now the Village Hall. Continue along East Street and into the cul-de-sac then, at the end of the road, turn left by a wall along a footpath. Turn right over a footbridge, crossing the four-lane A27 road, into Falmer (north).

Cross Middle Street and turn right, following the road as it bends around to the left and then becomes Ridge Road. Continue along this for just over half a mile as it climbs steadily uphill.

2 - Bear right off the road, through metal barriers, on to a bridleway. In just over 100 yards, cross a track and follow the bridleway as it begins to turn in a north-easterly direction across downland. There are views to the right across to the Ouse Valley between Lewes and Newhaven.

Continue on this bridleway track, which is fenced on one side or both, ignoring other bridleways on either side. After one and a half miles, join the South Downs Way (SDW) as it continues in the same direction.

The SDW is a National Trail bridleway of about 100 miles from Eastbourne to Winchester and is easily recognised by the acorn sign on the numerous waymarks along the route.

3 - In just over half a mile, at a five-way junction, turn left to continue on the SDW for a further mile, again ignoring another bridleway which crosses about halfway along. This ridge is known as Plumpton Plain. There are extensive views from here on a clear day: to the north, beyond Plumpton, across the Low Weald to the High Weald in the distance; and to the south, as far the coast to the east of Brighton.

4 - Just before a private road crosses the SDW, and opposite a warning sign for cyclists, turn left through a bridle gate. Follow the right-hand field edge downhill for about 450 yards.

Just past Streathill Farm buildings on the right, go through a bridle gate to join the track continuing downhill. Ignore a footpath on the right and any other tracks on the left.

In about a mile, and 250 yards after passing under power lines, go down to the right of St Mary’s Farm. At the bottom of the hill turn left, keeping to the right of the houses, along a tarmac driveway continuing uphill for half a mile.

5 - Just before the crest of the hill, bear right along a clear path through woodland. At the end this path leads into a field, which then leads into a long narrow car park. Go to the exit and cross an access road to the University of Sussex campus. Turn left and follow the Way Out signs leading into Eastern Ring Road, keeping to the left of the campus buildings.

6 - There is now a choice of routes to the finish depending on your means of travel. For bus users, there is a bus stop on the opposite side of the road. For those travelling by train, turn right at the main road roundabout and go down the slipway to the A27 for about 600 yards and then use the subway under the A27 to return to Falmer Station.

For those returning to Falmer (south), just before the roundabout at the main road, cross into Mill Street (signed Falmer (north). Turn right into Park Street, following the road as it bends around to the left and then becomes Middle Street.

Go past (or in, if desired) The Swan Inn on the left then, in a few paces, turn right across the road to go over the footbridge used on the outward journey. From here, retrace the route to your starting point.

Distance/Time: Seven miles/three hours; an extra three-quarters of a mile/20 minutes if starting from Falmer Station
By Car: Falmer (south) off A27 and B2123 between Brighton and Lewes; beware of severe parking restrictions
By Public Transport: Trains to Falmer (Coastway line from Brighton and Hastings). Buses (frequent service) from Brighton area and Lewes; alight at junction with Village Way and Park Street, Falmer, on B2123. Timetable information from Traveline: call 0871 200 2233 or visit www.traveline.info
What’s underfoot: Mostly good downland paths and tracks which may be muddy, if wet; no stiles
Thirsty Work: The Swan Inn, Falmer (north), near start/
finish (early closing at 3pm on Mondays)
So you don’t get lost: OS Explorer 122 or Landranger 198. A compass would be useful for general direction

Click here for a full-sized map of the Falmer walk

  • For those wanting more festive walks, the Ramblers Festival Of Winter Walks offers an excellent selection. Visit ramblers.co.uk/walksfinder.