Sussex walk around Alfriston village
- Credit: Archant
Enjoy riverbanks and downland views – and even buy your Christmas wines – on this circular walk encompassing Alfriston village and Rathfinny vineyard by Hazel Sillver
The White Horse
Known as the Litlington White Horse, this chalk filly trots over the South Downs, above the Cuckmere River, southwest of Litlington village. Three local men are said to have cut it into the hillside by the light of a full moon in 1924. And it is believed that it replaced an ancient chalk horse which had become overgrown.
The Rathfinny Wine Estate sits on sheltered south-facing chalk slopes of the South Downs, near Alfriston. Established in 2010, it aims to become one of the largest single vineyards in Europe, eventually producing one million bottles of Sussex Sparkling a year. This fizzy wine (made with Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir grapes) will be available from 2018. Until then, their light, crisp wines – made from Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc grapes – are available to enjoy under the Cradle Valley label. To taste and buy Rathfinny wines, head to the Gun Room in Alfriston (walking north through the village, head down the alley/twitten on the right after the Moonrakers restaurant, following the sign to the Alfriston Heritage Centre).
Open 10am-4pm daily; 01323 870022; rathfinnyestate.com
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Where to refuel
There are several good pubs, restaurants, and tearooms in Alfriston. Both The George Inn (01323 870319; thegeorge-alfriston.com) and The Star Inn (01323 870495; thestaralfriston.co.uk) pubs, as well as the Chestnuts tearoom (01323 870959; chestnutsalfriston.co.uk), all welcome dogs.
• Location: Alfriston, near Seaford, East Sussex
• Distance: 6m (10km) – 2.5-3 hours to walk.
• Terrain: lots of up and down; grass, chalk, and woodland paths; and riverbanks (which can be muddy)
• Where to park: In the large pay and display car park at the north end of Alfriston village.
1 From the main car park at the north end of Alfriston village, head past a house signed The Willows, past the coach park, towards a gate. Go over the stile, and soon head over another stile. At the signpost head left, then immediately right onto the riverpath, which leads past cottages. Maintain direction past a white bridge, heading across grass, and then back onto the path past Alfriston Church, and alongside the river.
2 Go through Pat’s Gate. Stay on the river path for another mile, passing through three more gates.
3 The path leads through hedgerow to a hard track. Head left here and then immediately right before the bridge, going through the gate back onto the same riverside path. Stay on the riverpath for another half mile. Eventually the path leads over a stile.
4 At the bridge, head right upslope into a field. Turn left, walking through the middle of the field and then through a gate. Carry on through the middle of the next field towards another gate.
5 Head over the road and through the next gate. The path divides – head left. You will now see Rathfinny Wine Estate to your right. The path soon leads through hedgerow.
6 Go through the gate, along the edge of the field, and through another gate. Maintain direction, walking along the field edge, next to scrub, with views over the vineyard.
7 Go through the gate and bear right, heading along the wide hard track between hedgerows.
8 The path runs past Seaford golf course on your left. Soon head right through the gate marked with the red Rathfinny shield, and walk downhill on the chalky path. Eventually, at the signpost, maintain direction across the hard track, and continue along the narrow path, which soon leads into woodland.
9 At the signpost, head right. The path leads through scrub and then heads up the side of a field, alongside hedgerow.
10 Go through the vineyard gate and immediately head left, walking uphill along the edge of a field. Eventually, at the top of the hill, the path bears right.
11 The path now narrows and leads between fencing. Soon, ignore the stile on your left, and carry on along the path between hedgerows for a half mile.
12 Ignore all gates you pass, and continue through woodland until you reach the road.
13 At the road, head left and walk through Alfriston village. Eventually, at the small square and the market cross, take the right-hand road, which leads past the Old Bank, back to the car park.