Walking in the South Downs: day two

Ditchling Beacon Nature Reserve, Ditchling, East Sussex

Route details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
Ditchling Beacon is the highest point in East Sussex © Natasha Sharma

Ditchling Beacon is the highest point in East Sussex

Exmoor ponies © Jim Elliott

Exmoor ponies

A male Chalkhill Blue butterfly © Matthew Oates

A male Chalkhill Blue butterfly

Route overview

Second day of a two-day walk in the South Downs, tried and tested by environment and travel journalist, Mark Rowe. You'll start at Ditchling Beacon Nature Reserve, taking in great views as you follow the South Downs Way towards the hamlet of Southease.

Route details

See this step-by-step route marked on a map

Route map for Day Two of Mark Rowe's two-day South Downs walk
  • Directions
  • Route
  • Bus stop
  • Parking
  • Toilet
  • Viewpoint

Start: Ditchling Beacon Nature Reserve, grid ref: TQ325134

  1. If walking from Ditchling, it's preferable to avoid the traffic by taking the public footpath just east of the post office (TQ327152) that sweeps diaconally south-east towards The Nye, then due south past Jointer Copse, crossing Underhill Lane to climb steadily up to the ridge just east of Ditchling Beacon.

    Show/HideDitchling Beacon Nature Reserve

    One of the highest points on the South Downs and the site of an Iron Age fort, Dichling Beacon is a steep chalk hill rich in open grassland. The 20 hectare nature reserve on the escarpment is home to a variety of butterflies, birds and insects.

    Ditchling Beacon is the highest point in East Sussex © Natasha Sharma
  2. The South Downs Way is clearly marked form here, heading east before turning south (TQ37012) and zig-zagging down to Housedean Farm.

    Show/HideExmoor ponies

    Exmoor ponies (similar to the ones shown here) graze above the folds of Cold Coombes, not far from Direction 2 of this walk. They help to keep scrub at bay and allow the chalk downlands to flourish.

    Exmoor ponies © Jim Elliott
  3. Continue to follow the South Downs Way as it sweeps around Swanborough Hill before picking up the Military Road to Southease.


    In summer, the South Downs teems with wildlife. Look out for everything from chalkhill blue and brown Argus butterflies, to whitethroats, yellowhammers, bees and beetles.

    A male Chalkhill Blue butterfly © Matthew Oates

End: Southease train station, grid ref: TQ432055

In partnership with

Cotswold Outdoor logo © Cotswold Outdoor
  • Trail: Walking
  • Grade: Moderate
  • Distance: 12 miles (20km)
  • Time: 5 hours
  • OS Map: Outdoor Leisure 122 Brighton and Hove, Lewes and Burgess Hill
  • Terrain:

    A flinty walk, sometimes glassy and slippery in rain. Navigating is straightforward but look out for the acorn waymarkers, since it is all too easy to stride ever eastwards along the chalk escarpment. There are no rugged, awkward peaks, but this two day hike is no southern softy. The South Downs Way is consistently and clearly way-marked for almost its entire length. PLEASE NOTE: the map provided is intended as a rough guide, please take a map and compass with you. Well-behaved dogs welcome; please put on lead around livestock.

  • How to get here:

    Please see Day One of the walk, for directions to the start of this two-day trail.

    By train: Southease train station (at the end of this walk) has regular connections to Lewes and Brighton, both of which have links to London and the rest of the country. See National Rail (tel: 08457 484950) for details

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