Walking trail

Ditchling Beacon to Devil's Dyke, South Downs walk

Walking trail

This walk takes in one of the most stunning sections of the South Downs Way long-distance trail. Spring and summer bring an abundance of wild flowers into bloom; the richness of the plant life is thanks to the chalk soil which forms a unique grassland habitat. With great bus links from Brighton, why not make this a green day out and leave your car at home?

Sunrise near Ditchling Beacon in Sussex


Map route for Ditchling Beacon to Devil's Dyke walk


Ditchling Beacon, grid ref: TQ332113


Ditchling Beacon lies on the South Downs Way (SDW) long distance trail. Follow the blue acorn markers west along the chalk ridge, keeping the sea on your left. At around 820ft (250m), you'll reach one of the highest points in the South Downs which gives great views in all directions. For this reason, it was a defensive stronghold in the early Iron Age. You can still see some of the forts banks and ditches today.

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Just before you reach the windmills is Clayton Holt. This is an ancient woodland estimated to be 10,000 years old and is worth a diversion off the main path. The majority of the trees are ash and beech, some a few hundred years old. There's a Saxon church in Clayton village with 11th-century frescos depicting the Last Judgement.


Return to the SDW path and continue to Clayton windmills. The landscape is undulating and many of the mounds are not natural features, but tumuli or ancient burial mounds. The windmills are affectionately called Jack and Jill. Jack is not open to the public, but Jill is open daily. From here you can see the northern edge of Brighton.


Continue on the SDW path, which runs due south of the windmills, passing New Barn Farm; then west to Pyecombe. There's a gastro pub in the village called The Plough Inn.


Cross the A273 then the A23 by way of a footbridge. From here, it's National Trust land and the landscape quickly becomes stunning again. The path twists back into the downs and to the historic hamlet of Saddlescombe, with its sixteenth-century manor farm.


Take a quick signposted detour to the farm's Donkey Wheel and well, which is thought to be 400 years old. Afterwards, cross the road at the front of the farm, then follow the path up to Devil's Dyke.

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Marvel at this landscape that was carved out during the last Ice Age. Constable called the view of the Weald up here, 'the best in all the land'. Walk or take the bus back to Brighton.

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Ditchling Beacon, grid ref: TQ332113

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Ditchling Beacon to Devil's Dyke, South Downs walk


A moderate to strenuous route with some steep climbs and descents. Walk in either direction and return the same way, or take the bus back to Brighton.

Ditchling Beacon to Devil's Dyke, South Downs walk

Contact us

Ditchling Beacon to Devil's Dyke, South Downs walk

How to get here

Ditchling Beacon, West Sussex
By road

The closest postcode is BN1 9QD.

By foot

Ditchling Beacon is on the South Downs Way.

By bus

Buses all year round from Brighton to Ditchling Beacon and between Brighton and Devil’s Dyke (July-September, daily; spring and autumn, weekends and bank holidays; winter, Sundays).

Ditchling Beacon to Devil's Dyke, South Downs walk

Facilities and access

  • Toilets available in Devil's Dyke car park