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Forty Eight Hours

View from the South Downs
Fancy a view from the top?

South Downs Way

By Cathryn Setz
Take a walk along one of the most scenic paths in Surrey and Sussex - along the South Downs Way between Ditchling and Devil's Dyke. Plus - challenge our rambler.

Quick facts

Distance – approximately 8 miles
Time – between 4-6 hours, with breaks
Parking – Ditchling Beacon and Devil’s Dyke both have free parking, but it does get busy on Sundays
Buses – the 77 Brighton & Hove bus runs on Sundays, and more frequently in Summer
Accessibility – The Devil’s Dyke Access trail

It may not seem the perfect time to take to the hills, but as February melts into March and we have more of those cool and crisp clear days, the South Downs offers a wonderful retreat from urban life.

"If you know a great local walk, then let us know. We're looking for walks that give a real flavour of Sussex and Surrey."
Email us: 48hrs@bbc.co.uk

In a series of features about the South Downs Way, we’ll be looking at different sections of the walk you can explore, with information on the trail, local interest and natural history.

Ditchling Beacon to Devil’s Dyke

This section of the South Downs Way is ideal for a day trip out of town. Stroll around the Clayton Windmills Jack and Jill, visit the quiet village of Pyecombe, then relax on the Devil’s Dyke or at nearby Fulking.

Map of the South Downs Way

At this time of year you will see wild flowers including ragwort, knapweed, crocuses and snowdrops, as well as the occasional kestrel, pheasant and dozens of rabbits. The terrain is fairly gentle with a couple of climbs.

From Ditchling Beacon, head east along the blue acorn path, clearly signposted from the stunning view at the top of the hill. You will pass Burnt House dew pond on your right, and a view of the northern edge of Brighton on your left.

A windmill
The Jack and Jill Windmills

At the Windmills, you may want to take a break. Jack is closed to the public, but Jill opens daily from 2 to 5.30 pm, serving cream teas and an informative visit about the history of the mills.

At Pyecombe, you may wish to visit the Church of the Transfiguration, which dates back to 1170. Notice the Tapsel Gate, a centrally pivoted design and one found only in Sussex.

Cross the footbridge over the A273. This section of the Way soon twists back into the Downs, and a short climb up towards Saddlescombe.

A pony on the downs
Isn't that Bill Oddie?

Eventually the Way takes you up to Devil’s Dyke access trail, a short mile and a half section of walk which is gentle, wheelchair accessible and full of interesting wildlife.

The view up here, over the Weald, is one which Constable called ‘the best in all the land’.

A twenty minute zig-zag walk down from the Dyke leads you to the tiny village of Fulking, worth a visit for the famous Shepherd & Dog pub, which serves decent ales and has outdoor seating. Perfect after a good day’s walk – but remember the climb back up!

last updated: 02/02/07
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