Length: 5 miles
Terrain: Chalk path, hazel coppice, bluebell wood, chalk stream, spinney, open fields
This is a great short walk for those interested in exploring copses, chalk streams and bluebells and is a wonderfully unspoilt section of Sussex very close to Brighton and Lewes.
The start of this walk begins at Plumpton railway station which is a very quick journey from Lewes. Those from Brighton will need to change at Lewes or there is limited free parking for cars directly outside the station should you wish to drive.
When leaving the station head north for a hundred yards and then turn left at the road ‘East view fields’ from here you walk to the end of the street before going straight on and coming back round to the train tracks which you need to cross with care. From here take the path bearing right over a paddock and you will soon pass a small stream before emerging out into open fields. Here you follow the field to the start of a small wood where you need to bear left crossing another stream before walking straight to the village of Streat.
As you come into Streat you will see the impressive Streat Manor on your right and next to that, Streat Church. The church itself in on a small greensand spur and commands brilliant views of the downs from the churchyard.
To carry on this walk you need to retrace you steps back to where you entered the village and instead of going right now turn left heading west along a pleasant and wide chalk track. After passing a few houses that mark the end of Streat village, you will need to take a right turn heading down a small track lined with ancient oak trees, one of which has an owl box on.
Here the walk really gets into beautiful countryside and the first copse I entered was full of bluebells among Hazel and Beech trees, further on you cross a bridge where there is the first of many pretty chalk streams. Dog’s mercury lined the steep banks along with celandines and the smell of wild garlic was very strong. We noticed lots of cuckoo flower’s, otherwise known as lady’s smock, which loves the damp ditches and riverbanks that are such a feature of this area. Named as it supposed to coincide with the arrival of the Cuckoo unfortunately we have not heard any yet this year but another interesting feature is that it is the food plant of the orange tip butterfly of which we saw quite a few flitting in the sun dappled paths of the coppice woods.
As you leave this copse you head across a field into another wood and then through a paddock before emerging out onto a track that leads to Plumpton College but you need to go straight across following a field before turning right into a pleasant meadow and another lovely stream. This is a nice place to rest for a moment watching the water.
I can spend hours watching chalk streams and they really are one of the best aspects of living on chalk and it is thought that the water you see has spent the last 60-70 years underground, slowly percolating before bursting forth at the myriad of springs which pepper the feet of the downs. The water I saw that day could well have fallen in a wartime Britain which is an interesting thought.
After leaving here and heading through another meadow you come to Plumpton road where you need to cross directly over passing the sign to Novington Manor then following the road left where it forks and going over a stile. Here on your left is another beautiful Hazel coppice wood (privately owned) but you can enjoy the brilliant views from the path.
After a mile or so the path winds back into East Chiltington whose entrance is marked by the church. There is a pub called the Jolly Sportsman further down into the village if you want to stop for a drink or food. After the Church turn left and follow the track which leads into another wood and bridged stream. Here is another beautiful copse managed for conservation with many wildflowers.
After turning right after the stream you will head out onto open fields where you need to go straight following the line of the field until you reach the train tracks and a crossing. Now you can just follow the path running adjacent to the track all the way back to Plumpton and your finish.