August 2016 – Ditchling Walk
by Les Campbell
A lovely circular walk around the picturesque village of Ditching, enjoy the beautiful countryside on a warm summer’s day.
This circular walk starts and finishes at the car park behind the Village Hall just to the east of the crossroads in the centre of Ditchling. It explores the Low Weald area immediately to the north of the Downs and links the three churches of Ditchling, Westmeston and Streat. There are no hills and it is suitable for most people, although it can be muddy in places, particularly during the winter months! The walk is 4.6 miles long and you should allow just over two hours to complete the circuit.
From the car park, walk up to the road and turn right towards Lewes. Take the signed footpath opposite ‘The Fieldway’, which leads to a grassy path, giving access into a field. Cross three fields on a stiled path, then follow up alongside a sunken path (The Nye) to emerge over a stile into a wooded area. (The stiles have been made and erected by the ‘Monday Group’, volunteer workers who carry out clearance and maintenance work.)
Go ahead through the woodland, ignoring a right-hand fork, and just past the pond, bear left on a way-marked path (Wellcroft Lane). This takes you out on Underhill Lane, where you should turn left and follow the lane out to its junction with the B2116 opposite Westmeston Church. A previous owner of the house ‘Middleton Laine’ on your right, was Sir Stephen Demetriadi, one time High Sheriff of Sussex, who gave land at Ditchling Beacon to the National Trust in memory of his son shot down in wartime action.
From the road junction, walk parallel to the B2116 on the ‘Westmeston 2002 Jubilee Pathway’ and just before the brow of the hill, look for a signed footpath on the opposite side of the road. Cross the road and veer half right across the field that leads to a stile and an enclosed section of path. The imposing house to your left is Westmeston Place. This path takes you out to a track where you should turn left for approximately 50 yards, and then turn right on another short section of enclosed path. On reaching the next track, turn left and follow this track northwards for half a mile to a signed junction of cross paths. The large house over to your right is ‘Middleton Manor’. During the last war, the house was occupied by German Officer POWs and they were known to visit nearby Ditchling to partake of afternoon tea. It is now a private residence.
At the second cross path, go right over a stile, then left alongside an electric fence with the spire of Streat Church clearly visible. At the second stile, go right over a sleeper bridge on a defined path, bearing left on a wide track. Look for two electricity posts and aim for the gap on the left, which gives access to a metal kissing gate leading into a field. Bear half right across this field to another stile, and then walk uphill on a path to enter the graveyard at Streat Church via another kissing gate. It is worth turning right on the track by the Church for a short distance to admire the magnificently restored Streat Place. This ‘E’ shaped mansion has a monumental facade which probably belongs to the Jacobean era.
Turn left along the track and just past Streat Cottage, go left over a stile and head downhill to another stile just to the left of the buildings at Hayleigh Farm. From the farm, follow the metalled track for just under a mile to Spatham Lane. Cross the lane and take the enclosed path opposite, which leads to Ditchling Recreation Ground and eventually out to East End Lane. Cross the lane and take the path opposite beside the delightfully named property ‘Pardons’. Pass through two kissing gates this leads into Fieldway, which in turn, joins the B2116, where you turn right for the car park and the centre of Ditchling.
- Distance: 4.6 miles
- Stiles: Several
- Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer No.135 Ashdown Forest
- Parking: Ditchling
- Refreshments: Cafés and pubs in Ditchling
- Public Transport: Limited bus service to Ditchling. Regular train service to Hassocks
Please note this walk is a repeat, kindly re-walked and checked by the Ramblers for Les who is recovering from a walking accident. We wish him well for a speedy recovery. We are very grateful to Les Campbell for bringing us new and exciting local walks every month. A founder member and former Chairman of the Mid Sussex Ramblers, he is a very experienced and enthusiastic walker indeed. Les insists on testing all routes personally, making sure they are suitable for walking. However, even he cannot guarantee the effects of the weather, or roadworks, or any other factors outside of his control. If you would like to send your feedback about a local walk, please email firstname.lastname@example.org