Canoe Days Out

Sussex - Sussex Ouse - Barcombe Mills to Southease Swing Bridge or Newhaven

This page was submitted by Craig Black and Family
How to get there - Head south on the A26 from Uckfield to Lewes. Turn right into Barcombe Mills Road. The launch site is about 1.5 km from the turnoff where the Barcombe Mills road crosses the river. There is a small parking space (free) at Barcombe and the area is worth a look around as it's quite pretty.

For those with SatNav a nearby postcode is BN8 5BP.

Get a map with driving directions to start or end (enter the postcode of your starting point at A)

Suggested Launch Site - There are 2 possible launch sites at Barcombe. One is just below the main road bridge where there are steps down to the river on the downstream side of the bridge. This can be a bit brambly but the alternative launch site (50 metres upstream of the main bridge just below the fish ladders) is not advised by the EA on safety grounds.

General Description - This is a journey of 2 halves. Although tidal to Barcombe Mills, above Lewes the tide has minimal effect - meandering and wild(ish) with good birdlife. From Lewes down it's clearly tidal and not particularly wild but faster flowing, if you get the tide right. If you get the tide wrong find a pub in Lewes to wait for the ebb because it is quite hard work against the flow. I'm not sure but the tide seems to turn about 3 hours after it turns at Newhaven. From Barcombe to Southease Bridge is about 9.5 miles with one weir to portage at Hamsey (2.5 miles from the start). There is a slipway and easy parking at Southease making it a good takeout point. The bridge is an interesting example of a swing bridge.

We continued down to Newhaven but the takeout was difficult and the big ships/boats in the harbour were a bit intimidating. It's another 4.5 miles down to Newhaven from Southease.

Apparently the BCU has an agreement with the Ouse Angling Society not to canoe above Hamsey on the first weekend after 16th June every year.

The Ouse used to be a commercial waterway and rights of navigation may still exist but it's a bit of a grey area above Barcombe. The sections upstream of Barcombe are lovely and the Anchor is a reasonable pub for a lunch/tea break. For advice on access upsteam of Barcombe please contact The BCU Local Rivers Advisor for the Sussex Ouse who is Mr John D Cattermole, 12 St Pancras Green, Kingston, Lewes BN7 3LH, Tel: 01273 472 760

Comments on this trip

Martin Malins
25 Jun 2022
also meant to add there is a tree down blocking the whole river just South of Barcombe Mills. It's only passable by climbing onto the trunk (good branches for handholds) and manhandling the kayak over.

Martin Malins
25 Jun 2022
I did this today as a one way trip, it was quite challenging into the wind even though I had the current and the tide with me. I used the main road bridge which was a bit of a step down, I saw other canoeists taking their craft off vehicles near the car park but had already taken mine down to the river so never found out where they put in. Newhaven was a horrible scramble up on seaweed but I got to a safe place to lock the kayak up in view of the marina. Piddinghoe and Lewes (with the Harveys brewery which I was sadly unable to sample!) were the most scenic places. I passed 2 Hamsey churches I wonder which was the real one

Paul Tofts
17 Jul 2017
1 Access at Barcombe Mills going south is a bit tricky, with steep banks and nettles.2. Access also at Hamsey onto the cut, at high tide (at low tide the water is rather shallow!)3. Good access at Lewes by Tesco car park (easier at high tide).

30 Jul 2016
Tide in Lewes is 110hr after Newhaven

riich Harvey
18 Jun 2016
will be kayaking the Ouse this sun, 19 2016 .. should be fun!

Clive Edwards
03 Dec 2011
I took over from John Cattermole as BCU local river advisor for the Ouse in Dec 2010.I can be contacted at Canoe trails for this river will be posted on Canoe England BCU in the new year.

04 Sep 2010
Good access point lower down is Piddinghoe, you can then go either way. If you stop over in Lewes try the Snow Drop pub near the Lewes Rowing Club, friendly bunch also.

31 May 2009
Canoeing this stretch on a fairly regular basis now as it is very local and a lovely couple of hours. Recently met a kayak on a visit and with vegetation growing on the banks, lots of wildlife if you just float along and take it in. Great fun and easy life. Wish you all well

21 Mar 2009
Canoed the stretch form Barcombe down to the weir today, 21 March 2009. Park in the lay by just after the road bridge crossing the river and the gate is open and a short walk to the river and easy access. The access under the bridge is a bit muddy at this time of the year. Fabulous first run out for me and my canoe and we are hooked big time. Happy paddling to all.

Simon Marks
13 Jun 2008
The non-tidal stretch of the river (i.e. above Barcombe Mills to the Anchor and up to Newick) is not very wide and quite heavily fished. The resident anglers can get very annoyed and are convinced that private canoeing is not permitted on the river. There are also comments about damage by canoists to the spawning grounds of migratory Sea Trout. In my view it is best to stick to the tidal stretch below Barcombe Mills (down river to Lewes and Newhaven) which is less heavily fished and where canoing is allowed.
15 Aug 2007
Yes, south of Barcombe is tidal and therefore accessible. The comment was meant for the section above Barcombe which I have now clarified.

15 Aug 2007
does that part not count as tidal?? in those months?


Newhaven Tide Times
The Anchor Inn
The Sussex Ouse Restoration Trust
Hire an ARK Inflatable boat

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The last trip loaded was Great Haywood to Great Haywood (Circular Route) on the River Trent / Trent & Mersey Canal by Peter Robinson