Ditchling Beacon Walk
by Les Campbell
With breathtaking views from the heights of Ditchling Beacon, this 5 mile circular follows established paths with a few easy to moderate climbs. This exhilarating 5mile walk starts from the car park (fee payable) at Ditchling Beacon. From this lofty vantage point, the views are superb, and on days of good visibility to the north you can see as far as Ashdown Forest and the North Downs and to the southeast, Seaford Head and the start of the Seven Sisters chalk cliffs at Cuckmere Haven.
At just over 800 feet above sea level, Ditchling Beacon is one of the highest points on the South Downs. It is within the South Downs National Park and is owned and cared for by the National Trust. The route follows established paths and tracks but you may wish to carry a copy of Ordnance Survey Explorer Map No.122 for reassurance.
From the car park, follow the South Downs Way westwards for a short distance and just past the trig point, turn left on a signed bridleway to Heathy Brow. Follow the track southwards with superb views ahead to the outskirts of Brighton and the coast.
At a signpost, take the left fork signed to High Park. The path contours around the rim of North Bottom, and eventually bears left, climbing steeply uphill to join the Ditchling Road at Highpark Corner. Cross the road carefully, to a narrow path between concrete posts, bearing right at the immediate junction of paths to walk through woodland parallel to the road.
The path exits the woodland via a stile, and you should maintain direction ahead through an area of rough pasture, still walking parallel to the road. (The University buildings at Falmer and the Amex Stadium are clearly visible away to your left). At the far end, cross two stiles and enter Upper Lodge Wood following the wide path to a metal barrier giving access onto a metalled lane in the vicinity of the Upper Lodges car park.
Follow the metalled lane downhill until you reach the top end of Stanmer Village. (The conical shaped hill way in front of you is Firle Beacon to the east of Lewes.) If you want to visit the Tea Rooms or Stanmer House for refreshment turn right. Otherwise, to resume the walk, turn left to pass farm buildings and follow the track uphill. (The row of trees in front of you is curiously named “Granny’s Belt!”)
At a cross paths, maintain direction, descending through woodland on a slightly sunken path to a hunting gate. Go forward, first with woodland and then with a fence on your left, climbing fairly steeply uphill to another cross paths. (Away to your left is the car park at Ditchling Beacon). At the cross paths, bear left downhill before commencing a steady climb uphill on open Downland to join the South Downs Way at Home Brow. On reaching the South Downs Way, turn left for Ditchling Beacon and the start of the walk.
Stiles: Mostly access is via gates but you will encounter the odd stile.
Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer Map No. 122
Parking: Ditchling Beacon car park (fee payable).
Public Transport: The start of the walk is currently served by Brighton & Hove Bus No.79 from Brighton Station.