Every hollow tells a story
Below your feet there are remains from thousands of years of history and they can be read if you know how.
Ditchling Beacon car park
After parking in the car park at Ditchling Beacon you leave the car park and head west up the ramp and through the gate in to the neighboring Sussex Wildlife Trust managed Ditchling Beacon Nature Reserve. The walk starts at the site of an Iron Age Hill Fort, not much remains of the structure as extensive ploughing has damaged the bank and ditch earthworks, there are however some remains to be seen on the ground as you walk past on the South Downs Way.
As you walk through the hill fort you will see a boundary stone that is made from sand stone, this marks the boundary between Ditchling and Westmeston Parishes. Up ahead on your left an Ordnance Survey triangulation pillar also marks a beacon site set up in the 1600’s to warn against impending invasion from the channel. Nearby is the first of three dew ponds to be seen on the walk. This one is post-medieval and was restored by Brighton and Hove County Council a few years ago.
As you walk a grassy path splits off from the flint track on your right hand side, walk over the brow of the hill, go through the kissing gate and then turn right going downhill, watching out as it is steep. You are now walking on Ditchling Down As you walk down the hill look to your right over the fence and you will notice the line of the old Ditchling Bostal and on your left are some of the former quarries for the Ditchling Lime Works.
Over the stile in front of you and after a short stretch you go through a kissing gate on your left, over another stile then right over one more stile before heading down some steps where you come out in a big field. Head towards the newly planted hedge in front of you and with it on your right walk along to the end of the field. This is the site of Burnthouse Farm that was named after the previous farm house had burnt down. You can see the old farm well behind a fence which is now suffering from subsidence.
Go over the stile in front of you and turn right on to Burnthouse Bostal and climb up the scarp slope to the top of the downs. The sunken track is bounded by wonderful coppiced and pollarded Ash trees. The track opens up and as it bends to the right keep following it up the slope, when you get near the top of the slope keep the bushes to your right, 100m further on you reach a gate, go through this and turn left, you are now back on the South Downs Way.
Bostall’s are a common feature of the downs and acted as drove ways for stock to move from the villages to their grazing areas on the downs. Some of the bostall’s are perhaps prehistoric in origin and have been created by many centuries of feet, hooves and rainfall.
Walk on till you reach another gate. Burnt house dewpond is on your right and a bit further on a burial mound is on your left. As you carry on walking back towards the car park you go past another dewpond and some Anglo Saxon burial mounds before reaching a gate that takes you back into the Sussex Wildlife Reserve, keep walking along the South Downs Way before reaching the car park and finishing your walk.
Ditchling Beacon car park
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