Autumn family fun at Devil's Dyke & Saddlescombe Farm

Family take a break in their bike ride

There is so much to do this Autumn at Devil’s Dyke and Saddlescombe Farm. We’ve picked out our favourite 50 things activities for you. Every adventurous family will find something to suit, from exploring on wheels to finding some funky fungi. So go out, fill your lungs with fresh air, and enjoy this legendary countryside spot.

No. 1  Get to know a tree

Did you know that trees drop their leaves to save energy when it is too cold to grow?  They turn colour because they reabsorb all the nutrients that they can reuse (the green chlorophyll) and leave the bits they don’t (the yellow carotenoids and red anthocyanin).

Climbing a tree is fun, but have you ever smelt a tree, looked in its cracks for hiding mini beasts, or caught a falling leaf.  Discover our trees just below the fort on Devil’s Dyke or some really old trees in Newtimber Holt.

Before you clamber up and over your tree, it's best to check if there are any signs of damage or if it may be special for its age or type. Check with an adult before you set off on your adventures and keep away from trees in stormy weather. 

Magical Fairy Cap Fungus in Newtimber Holt
Fairy Cap Fungus on Newtimber Hill
Magical Fairy Cap Fungus in Newtimber Holt

No. 22  Find some funky fungi

Q. Why did the mushroom get invited to all the parties?

A. Because he was a fun guy!

Autumn is amazing for fungi.  They come in all shapes and sizes and colours and have many silly names, like Spikey Beard fungus, and Lemon Disco.  Some are small and colourful, like the tiny wax caps you can find on the grassy areas of Devil’s Dyke and Newtimber Hill, or huge and slightly disgusting, like the bloody Beef Steak that you may see at the base of an old Oak tree. 

Did you know that fungi are not a plant or animal, but a special thing sort of in between.  Be careful with them though, some fungi are edible, but others, like Death Cap and Destroying Angel, definitely are not.  Don’t touch unless you are with an expert adult.

No. 45  Find your way with a map.

Once you have learned to use a map, you will never get lost. It’s a super cool skill to have. 

At Devil’s Dyke and Newtimber hill we have hill forts, the steepest dry valley in the UK, big views and an ancient downland farm to discover.

Start off  by working out where you are right now on the map, so that you know you're following your map from the right place.  It sounds silly, but make sure you're holding the map the right way round too.  It's good to do this activity with your family or friends, and you'll probably need an adult for the trickiest bits.

There are lots of lines and shapes on maps.  Once you've found your starting point, have a look at the different symbols you can find near your spot. What could they be?  There will probably be a special key on your map, which gives a clue to what each line and squiggle means. You'll probably find symbols for roads, footpaths, streams, hills and trees. Knowing all these different markings will help you to work out where you are when you're on your journey.

For maps and guided walks, have a look at here or pick up a map from our notice boards at Devil’s Dyke or the Information Barn at Saddlescombe Farm.

No 11.  Find your way on wheels

Whizzing down a hill with the wind in your hair is one of the best things.  We have plenty of hills to zoom down and bridleways to explore.  The South Downs Way is over 100 miles long, and runs right through Devil’s Dyke and Saddlescombe Farm.  Feel the wind in your hair, listen to the sound of your wheels and the wildlife around you and go off and explore.

Stay safe.  Wear a helmet and ask an adult to make sure your transport is in good working order.

How to get here

Bus: Number 77 bus from Brighton stops at Devil’s Dyke. For times see www.buses.co.uk or call 01273 886200.

Car Parks: There are two nearby carparks, both free for National Trust members:

Devil’s Dyke, SatNav; Easting 525844, Northing 110977. Nearest postcode BN1 8YJ

Summerdown Road: SatNav; Easting 526968, Northing 111104.  Nearest postcode BN1 8YJ

Facilities:

 Toilets at Devil’s Dyke pub and Saddlescombe Farm (when the café is open)

Food at Devil’s Dyke pub (not NT) and the Wildflour Café at Saddlescombe farm (Not NT and seasonal, check https://wildflourcafe.business.site/)