Keeping body and soul together
Cafés, teashops and pubs we found along the SDW
[These entries are well out of date and research is underway to update]
Places to eat and drink and shelter while transport was organised were crucial to our car-based SDW strategy. They also made the walk rather more convivial so we pay tribute here to the hospitality we enjoyed along the way – and record more in sorrow than anger those we found closed as we passed. If we missed somewhere better, please let us know here.
Winchester – The Eighteen 71 Café
Some regard Winchester Cathedral as the starting point of the SDW. We sought strength for the coming walk at the excellent Eighteen 71 café at the Guildhall. Good food, good service, comfortable, contemporary surroundings and not a teaspoonful of municipal dullness, the civil rather than religious heart of Winchester was where we chose to begin. Mostly for the coffee.
The SDW passes the door, there is half an hour’s free parking in the Broadway outside (take a ticket from the machine though) and you are just steps away from the riverside walk that rapidly takes you out of town and into the country.
Eighteen 71 Café, Guildhall, The Broadway, Winchester, SO23 9GH Tel: 01962 840 820
Beauworth near Cheriton – The Milbury’s Pub
A pub serving food slap bang on the SDW! What more could you ask for? That it is open when you reach it in the afternoon. It wasn’t. So we can’t say anything about it. Maybe others can comment here? We’ll add your views.
The Milbury’s, Salt Lane, Beauworth, SO24 0PB Tel: 01962 771248
Exton – The Shoe Inn
Another SD Way-side pub we had great hopes for but which we found closed mid-afternoon. The menu looked excellent (if pricey). Claims to be one of Hampshire’s finest. Maybe called the Shoe but doesn’t seem to cater for walkers. Catch its glossy promo video and menus here.
The Shoe Inn, Shoe Lane, Hampshire, Exton, SO32 3NT Tel: 01489 877526
East Meon – Meon Springs Café
Located rather unexpectedly at the head waters of the River Meon right on the SDW but otherwise well off the beaten track, Meon Springs provides fly-fishing, glamping in yurts and a café which promises:
- Bacon & Egg Roll Breakfasts
- Fully Licensed, beers and wine available.
- Tea & Coffee
- Cold Drinks, Bottled Water, Crisps & Snacks
- Filled Rolls for lunch.
We only had drinks there as we were carrying our own picnic. Which we ate at their picnic tables. As you do….
Meon Springs Café, Whitewool Farm, East Meon, GU32 1HW Tel: 01730 823794
Wetherdown – Beech Café
At the Sustainability Centre (the former HMS Mercury) the Beech Café offers organic, Fair Trade, vegetarian and vegan food. Homemade soup, ploughman’s, sandwiches, curries, cakes and flapjacks, a wide range of teas, coffees, ice creams and soft drinks. They say they are open 1000-1600 Monday to Sunday and Bank Holidays. We liked it….the ice cream was delicious. Someone had two!
The Beech Cafe, The Sustainability Centre, Droxford Road, East Meon, GU32 1HR Tel: 01730 823 755
Queen Elizabeth Country Park Visitors Centre Café
Home-made, locally sourced meals, snacks and cakes and a selection of Fair Trade teas, coffee and hot chocolate. Very friendly and helpful service right up to closing time.This was a transport hub for us and we came to like QECP Café and the women who work there.
9am – 5.30pm March to October
9am – 4.30pm November to February
Queen Elizabeth Country Park, Gravel Hill, Horndean, PO8 0QE Tel 023 9259 5040
Cocking – Studio and Moonlight Cottage Tearooms
Sadly there are no facilities other than car parking where the SDW crosses the A286 Chichester to Midhurst Road at Cocking, a place we started and finished walks. Due to utter incompetence on someone’s part, we did not discover until too late the Studio Tearooms at Singleton, two miles south of the SDW. This was probably just what we needed at the end of the day and we must have actually driven past it on our way home. In winter time, however, it tends to close by 1530.
Studio Tearooms, Cobblers Corner, Singleton, Chichester. PO18 0HN Tel: 01243 811899
The SDW guide we used says the Moonlight Cottage Tearooms at Cocking, just half a mile north of the car park, is open Wed-Sun 1030-1730 Mar-Oct but weekends only in winter.
Moonlight Cottage, Cocking, West Sussex, GU29 0HN Tel: 01730 813336
There is a farm shop at Hill Barn on the SDW just east of the A286 where we were once able to buy ice cream. They also sell fresh meat, eggs and bacon. See Richline Farm Shop at Manor Farm Cocking. Said to be open from 1100 to 1500 Friday to Sunday.
We would really appreciate some first hand experience of any of these establishments to add here. Or someone will have to be sent back there to sample a bun. If you have anything helpful to add please contact us here.
Amberley – The Riverside Tearooms
Sometimes you can have too much of a good thing. But not as often as we’d like to. The Riverside Tearooms had 13 different kinds of cake to choose from when we were last there – plus of course the cream teas. They are a bit slow to get the coffee percolating if you call in at opening time for a caffeine boost before tackling the hill out of Amberley. But all in all it’s a place we spent some happy times. Sadly opening hours much restricted in winter.
Riverside Tea Rooms, Houghton Bridge, Amberley, BN18 9LP Tel: 01798 831066
Upper Beeding – please help!
Several times we arrived at Upper Beeding gasping for a cuppa. If you can suggest a nearby solution please let us know here.
There is a saying: “Needs must when the Devil drives.” The Devil’s Dyke Hotel may not exactly be everybody’s cup of tea. But they will serve you one. Probably. You have to veer off the official SDW a few hundred yards to get there. But they serve drinks and food (including sandwiches before 1700).
The Devil’s Dyke Hotel, Dyke Road, Poynings, Brighton, BN1 8YJ Tel: 01273 857256
Saddlescombe – The Hiker’s Rest
This cafe has been replaced by a new one in the same farmyard setting. More details to follow
Wayfield Park Farm Shop, Pycecombe
A little hidden away just north of the SDW on the west side of the busy A23, it is easy to miss but definitely worth a visit for breakfast, lunch or tea/coffee. The all-day breakfast is lovely.
Wayfield Park Farm, London Road, Pycombe BN45 7ED 07742 082051
Pycombe – The Plough Inn
Just a few yards off the SDW in Pycombe is the once old village pub which has been extended. So now the Plough feels more like an Italian restaurant. But they serve food and drink which you may be in dire need of.
The Plough, London Road, Pyecombe, BN45 7FN Tel: 01273 842 796
Halfway between Ditchling Beacon and Southease the SDW crosses the Brighton to Lewes Road (A27) at Newmarket. As you reach the main road travelling west to east the SDW truns right and follows the A27 towards Brighton for a few hundred yards to the bridge over the dual carriageway. If instead of turning right you turn left, within about 50 yards there is a lay-by with a regular roadside tea and snack bar in attendance. The sign on it says open 0600 to 1600. It even has a portaloo. The noise of the traffic does not encourage you to linger for a leisurely repast but if you have developed the hunger bonk, this could help you out. A couple of hundred yards further east of the lay-by is a garage with a “convenience store” where further emergency supplies may be obtained. And if you are really desperate, there is a wayside drinking water tap in the wall on your right as you walk westwards towards the bridge.
Southease – YHA South Downs Hostel
Take a redundant farmyard and add £3million of Lottery money and you get an excellent café, campsite and hostel. The cream teas are well up to standard (but then there are times you’d eat and drink anything) . And the breakfasts we enjoyed there are legendary. For £4.99 you can have a complete Continental breakfast followed by a complete full-English cooked breakfast – though you have to pre-order it the day before and start eating it before 0900. There is even a train station next door.
YHA South Downs, Itford Farm, Beddingham, Lewes, BN8 6JS Tel: 0845 371 9574
Alfriston – The Badger Teahouse
In Alfriston you are spoilt for choice with teashops, restaurants and hotels galore. None are nicer, and few as welcoming (even to muddy boots) as the Badger Teashop. Slip the plastic bags thoughtfully provided over the muddy boots (one per boot unless you want to fall over) and enjoy this little jewel of a teashop with its friendly owners, Michael and Lynn who say: “We take great pride in all our food, and cakes and scones are baked daily using organic free-range eggs and premium ingredients. Our fresh soups have no flour, dairy or other artificial thickeners, and to avoid any unnecessary additives, all chicken, ham and bacon is cooked in our kitchen.” Badgers is brilliant. Are we biassed? We think so.
Monday to Friday 0930 – 1600 hours. Saturday and Sunday 1000 – 1630 hours
Badgers, The Old Village Bakery, Alfriston BN26 5UG Tel: 01323 871 336
Exceat – The Saltmarsh Farm House
The teashop behind the visitors centre at the Seven Sisters Country Park is well placed, whether its at the end, middle or beginning of your walk. But in winter months and bad weather we have found it closed early if there is no custom. In good weather the courtyard at the back is a pleasant place to take tea outside.
Saltmarsh Farmhouse, Seaford BN25 4AD Tel: 01323 870218 said to open at 1000
Birling Gap – National Trust Café
This cafe was recently given an overhaul by the National Trust. It sells simple snacks and light meals as well as teas, coffees and cakes. Opening times vary – check the website link above.
Birling Gap NT Café, East Dean, near Eastbourne, East Sussex, BN20 0AB Tel: 01323 423197
At the very start (or end) of the SDW sits the Kiosk. We never used it but it gets lots of good reviews here.
The Kiosk, Foyles Way, Upper Dukes Drive, Eastbourne BN20 7XN Tel: 01323 721716
Eastbourne – Hydro Hotel
We went here for a celebratory strawberry cream tea at the end of our walk. It is not far from the end of the SDW and in spite of its elegant surroundings (think Miss Marple and twin sets) and commanding position overlooking the seafront, the cost of the tea was comparable to every other one we’d had along the way, cheaper than some and definitely among the best (strawberries with clotted cream scones). We were able to book a table for ten in advance.
Hydro Hotel, Mount Road, Eastbourne, BN20 7HZ Tel: 01323 720643