Two Lewes Nature
Reserves: The Lewes Railway Land and Southerham

nature reservesPic.png
Nature reservesMap.png

Visit two very different nature reserves. One close to the river and the other 300 feet up. There’s a nice touch in that they can be seen from each other. It’s a stretched figure of 8 shape and involves a steep climb.It’s 5.3 km (3.5miles) long with an elevation of 140m and will take you about two hours. Start by walking along Railway Lane BN7 2AQ, off the high Street near the Cliffe Bridge to reach the old level crossing gate and the Railway Land Trust building (Linklater Pavillion).
1 Grid ref: TQ 42060 10080 N50.87270 E0.01768
Go to the far side of the building to find the riverside path. Walk along with the river Ouse hard on your left. Note the high chalk cliffs on the other side; we will be going up there later.
2 Grid ref: TQ 42460 09810 N50.87018 E0.02326
After the second hedge turn right to go to the opposite side of the water meadow. There's a small railway-type building ahead, now used as a hide. Once there, go through the nearby walker’s gate and turn right on the concrete path. (Sometimes it's just too wet to cross the meadows; just turn back and go left at the Linklater to view the heart of reeds.)
3 Grid ref: TQ 42250 09700 N50.86924 E0.02023
Walk along next to the railway. Take a look right at the golf clubhouse at the top of the cliffs, where there is often a flag flying. Bear off left, leaving the concrete path, to explore the reed beds. Eventually take yourself back to the Trust building and along the cobbles of Railway Lane. Turn right at the High Street to go over the bridge and down Cliffe High Street.
4 Grid ref: TQ 42170 10250 N50.87420 E0.01931 Opposite the end of the High Street, over South Street, is a small, steep lane called Chapel Hill. This is the steepest road in Sussex. Up you go, all the way to the golf club. Note the views of where you have previously been walking in a rather more leisurely fashion.
5 Grid ref: TQ 42620 09910 N50.87104 E0.02557
At the rear of the clubhouse take the gate onto the footpath and turn sharp left to keep the hedge and course on your left. Carry on straight up after the hedge drops away and take the left-hand path uphill at a fork near a post (which actually bears a sign pointing right). The golf course has an acutely angled fence on your left at one point; just carry straight on and up.
6 Grid ref: TQ 43450 10390 N50.87515 E0.03754
At the second angle of the golf course you carry on up towards the two gates you can see ahead of you. The second one is on the skyline. If you want to shorten the walk, a left turn here will get you to the stile at Waymark 8.
7 Grid ref: TQ 44180 10500 N50.87595 E0.04796
At the second gate you're on your own to have a wander about the access land. The small town ahead is Ringmer. Glyndebourne Opera House can be seen by turning right and finding the far top edge of a small quarry. Come back and retrace your steps through the two gates. At the lower gate take the higher and rightmost path towards the stile that leads onto the golf course.
8 Grid ref: TQ 43450 10430 N50.87551 E0.03756
Over the stile, the route through the golf course is signposted and almost dead straight, but it's nevertheless easy to go wrong here as the layout tends to make you veer to the right. The best way to keep straight is to glance behind you every now and again to keep in line with the marker-posts and, if in doubt, bear left. You'll be crossing a couple of fairways, so watch out and please walk round, not on, the greens towards the end. As you leave the course, walk straight on into the wood and down and you will soon reach Chapel Hill


Railway Land Project
This nature reserve was built on an area previously used as rail yards and then neglected for 25 years. It was saved from development in 1987 and the Railway Land Trust was set up in 1988. It contains Marsh Land, Woodland and Reed Beds. The local schools were heavily invoved, including participating in the neccessary rubbish clearing. More recently lottery money was achieved for the Linklater Pavillion.

The Heart of Reeds organic scuplture was designed by local artist Chris Drury. Both the town and county councils were involved along with the Arts Council and also Virdor Waste Management.



Many will remember the disastrous floods of 2000 when the Ouse broke its Banks and the centre of Lewes was flooded. Unsurprisingly South Street, over  the river as we walk along, was particularly hard hit. The new defences, which are now in place, include a wall on the east side of the river, which you can see.

Glyndebourne opera House
Is one of the world's premier opera houses. It receives no subsidies for its summer-long festival. The grounds are not open to the public.
Lewes Golf Club
is an old course (but not as old as the footpath that goes through it) and one of the more picturesque of our courses. It is something of a challenge, not least because of the persistent winds up here.