long man's walking guide to Sussex

A Compendium of Sussex Walks

Category: Brighton and Hove Walks

The City of Brighton and Hove is surrounded by the South Downs and much of the city’s boundaries are in the South Downs National Park itself. Stanmer Park, to the East on the way to Lewes, is a particular highlight and a good starting point for walks.

The landmarks of Devil’s Dyke and Ditchling Beacon are just beyond the city’s boundaries and can be reached by bus from Brighton. See the council’s Breeze up to the Downs leaflets.

Devil’s Dyke Walks

Devil's Dyke

Devil’s Dyke Walking Trails (National Trust), The Devil’s Dyke (Fancy Free Walks, PDF), Devil’s Dyke and the World’s Greatest View (AA), Devil’s Dyke Histories and Mysteries  Walks (NT, PDF)

  • a choice of walks in and around around Devil’s Dyke
  • rolling chalk downland, field paths – some trails have a steep climb  or descent and some have several stiles
  • good choice of pubs depending on walk taken –  Royal Oak, Poynings, Shepherd & Dog, Fulking, Devil’s Dyke pub
  • Devil’s Dyke can be busy but you can find peace and quiet quickly
  • accessible by the special Brighton ‘Breeze up to the Downs‘ bus (start at Devil’s Dyke)

buscup of tea

Excellent walks with fine views and a chance to walk through the Devil’s Dyke, a spectacular, steep-sided downland combe or cleft 91m deep and 800m long. Legend has it that the Devil was attempting to drown the parishioners of the Sussex Weald by gouging out a channel to the sea. Halfway through his sinister task, an old lady lit a candle and the Devil, mistaking the flame for the rising sun, did a runner, leaving his work unfinished. The truth is more prosaic – the Dyke was carved through ridges of rolling rock by meltwater during the last ice age leaving a fine and spectacular example of a dry chalk valley.

View from Devils Dyke

View from devil’s Dyke towards Fulking

The pretty village of Fulking with the  perfectly positioned Shepherd & Dog pub, is tucked away at the foot of the Downs.  A steep haul leads you back to the top of the South Downs escarpment and the South Downs Way. There are stunning views northwards across the Weald and south across rolling downland landscape to Brighton.

 

 

Rottingdean in the Footsteps of Kipling

Downs at Balsdean

Downs at Balsdean

Rottingdean in the Footsteps of Kipling and Company (Rottingdean Conservation Society, PDF).

  • 3 miles.
  • Mostly easy with moderate inclines.
  • Pubs and tea rooms in Rottingdean.
  • Accessible by bus

buscup of tea

Rottingdean is a picturesque seaside village that became fashionable in the nineteenth century among artists, writers and politicians and it still retains its artsy feel today.  Towards the end of the 19th century it offered seclusion and inspiration for many artists, writers and public figures, the most famous of which was Rudyard Kipling, who wrote ‘The Just So Stories’ whilst living there.

Don’t miss a visit to the lovely Kipling Gardens and The Grange Museum, Art gallery and Tea Garden. For an informative guide to the village, see the Rottingdean Village Leaflet (PDF).

The walk guides you through the principle sights associated with Kipling and also takes you up to the Downs above the village, including a visit to the ‘lost village of Balsdean’. For more information on the lost village and the Rottingdean downland area, see also the Downs on your Doorstep East Brighton guide by Brighton and Hove Council.

 

 

Saddlescombe Farm and Newtimber Hill Walks

Saddlescombe Farm

Saddlescombe Farm and Newtimber Hill

Saddlescombe Farm and Newtimber Hill and Newtimber Hill Butterfly Walk (both National Trust)

  • choice of short 1.5 mile walk (1 hour) or longer Butterfly Walk, 3 miles
  • Start and end of walk can be muddy in winter.
  • Short, steep ascent to begin but then gently undulating, grassy terrain
  • Hikers Rest at Saddlescombe Farm
  • Royal Oak in Poynings (short detour on Butterfly Walk)
  • accessible by bus

buscup of tea

These walks can both start from Saddlescombe Farm, an almost hidden hamlet sitting at the base of the Downs which is owned by the National Trust along with the surrounding countryside. Listed as a working farm since the Domesday Book and having belonged to the Knights Templar for around 100 years  – there are plenty of historic buildings to explore.

Both walks give you a chance to walk up to Newtimber Hill and explore the downs above the farm, which is some of the best for butterflies and flowers on the South Downs, with Adonis and chalkhill blues, dark-green fritillary and silver-spotted skipper. It’s also good for orchids.

 

Walking near Telscombe & Mill Hill

Telscombe village, East Sussex - geograph.org.uk - 1349082

Telscombe and Mill Hill (PDF, South Downs National Park)

  • 5.5 miles, 8.8k (2 hours) circular walk around Telscombe and Mill Hill
  • shorter 4 mile between Saltdean and Telscombe
  • two steep inclines on longer walk

bus

 

 

The longer walk rapidly takes you into the South Downs, and then down to the isolated hamlet of Telscombe, almost hidden in the folds of the Downs, which owes its peaceful character due to the wealthy bookmaker and racehorse trainer Ambrose Gorham who left the village to a trust known as ‘Gorham’s Gift’.

Although located less than two miles (3 km) from the coast, there is no public road linking the village with the more built-up coast. The village,  a small cluster of buildings around a church dedicated to St Laurence and a picturesque Youth Hostel (mind your head), is found at the end of a winding dead end road which you partly traverse as you head up again towards Mill Hill. It’s a walk across downland back to the bus stop.

The shorter walk starts in the coastal conurbation of Saltdean and takes you up to the common of Telscombe Tye and on to Telscombe.

Telscombe – My brighton and Hove

Hangleton Manor Walk

Hangleton Manor Walk (Hall & Woodhouse, PDF)
Hangleton Manor pub

  • 2.8 miles, 70-90 mins
  • moderate walk up to the Downs
  • starts and ends at the Hangleton Manor pun
  • accessible by bus

cup of teahistoric attraction

An undulating walk on to the South Downs around Hove taking in the Benfield Hill Nature Reserve. Good under foot with far reaching views, there’s lots to enjoy. The walks starts and ends at The Hangleton Manor, an old manor house, now a a pub and a grade II listed building – the the oldest domestic secular building in Brighton & Hove dating back to the 1500s. This makes the Hangleton the ideal location for a short pub walk with the option of a pint and bite to eat before or after a walk up to the Downs above Hove.

Hangleton Manor history (Wikipedia)

 

Stanmer Park Walks

Stanmer Experience Walks – Healthwalks and Nordic Walking (PDFs)

Stanmer Church

Stanmer Church

  • variety of walking routes to choose from – regular and Nordic – about 2.2 miles to 5.8 miles
  • fairly flat with some inclines
  • pub, tea room and toilets in Stanmer village. Pub at Falmer.
  • accessible by bus and train

trainbuscup of tea

A choice of walks starting in Stanmer Park.  Stanmer is a beautiful downland park containing the grade I listed Stanmer House (now partly a pub), the flintstone Stanmer Church, a pond and a  quiet village street cut off from the world with a good value tea shop. The walks take you through Stanmer Great Wood and onto the South Downs. Free guided weekly walks also available.

The Nordic Walks are three starter trails are available for beginners to learn Nordic Walking on accredited courses.

Some parts of the first health walk are suitable for wheelchair/buggy. Disabled parking and accessible toilet available.

 

East Brighton Walks: Rottingdean and the Downs East of Brighton

East Brighton Walks (PDF)

St Wulfran's Church Ovingdean

St Wulfran’s Church, Ovingdean

  • variety of walking routes to choose from – from a mile or two to around 8 miles
  • some steep climbs on some of the walks
  • pubs, toilets and tea rooms in Rottingdean, Saltdean and Brighton Marina.
  • accessible by bus

buscup of tea

Part of Brighton and Hove Council’s excellent  ‘Downs on Your Doorstep’ series of leaflets, this leaflet details walking options for exploring the Downs east  of Brighton including the undercliff walk between Brighton Marina and Rottingdean or Saltdean, and inland over the Downs.

Balsdean Church

You can pass the seaside village of Rottingdean where Rudyard Kipling once lived (visit Kipling Gardens for real peace and tranquility), the famous Roedean School, the 11th century  St Wulfran’s Church nestling in the Downs in Ovingdean, and what little is left of the lost village of Balsdean (used as target practice by the military during the Second World War).

Hollingbury Woods Easy Access Trail

Hollingbury Woods Easy Access Trail (PDF)

  • short easy access walk, free from gates and stiles and suitable for buggies, wheelchairs and the less mobile
  • smooth wide path with plenty of benches
  • about one hour walking time
  • on several bus routes

disabled access signbus

Part of Brighton and Hove Council’s excellent  ‘Downs on Your Doorstep’ series of leaflets, this leaflet details a short walk through woodlands on the northern edge of Brighton just off Ditchling Road (the link goes to the more up-to-date version by the South Downs Joint Committee).

The Chattri and the Windmills

Jill Mill on the South Downs

Jill Mill on the South Downs

The Chattri and the Windmills (Brighton & Hove City Council, PDF)

The Chattri (South Downs National Park, PDF)

  • variety of walking routes to choose from – about 5 miles from Patcham to Jack and Jill windmills and back
  • some steep climbs on some of the walks
  • pub and tea rooms in Patcham. Pub at Pyecombe.
  • accessible by bus

buscup of tea

The first of these leaflets is Part of Brighton and Hove Council’s excellent  ‘Downs on Your Doorstep’ series and details walking options for exploring the Downs north of Brighton, including the Chattri –  a downland memorial for Indian soldiers who died in the first world war, and the iconic Jack and Jill windmills sitting high on the downs above the village of Clayton. You can start walks from Patcham on the northern edge of Brighton, Ditchling Road on the way to Ditchling Beacon or the downland village of Pyecombe.

The South Downs National Park leaflet details a 3.75m walk from Patcham, and also includes a walk in nearby Stanmer Park.

 

 

Stanmer and Ditchling Beacon

The Great Wood, Stanmer Park

Bluebells in The Great Wood, Stanmer Park

Stanmer and Ditchling Beacon (PDF)

  • variety of walking routes to choose from – about 7 miles for Stanmer and Ditchling circular walk
  • easy access route of 5 miles suitable for more robust buggies and wheelchairs
  • some steep climbs on some of the walks
  • pub, tea room and toilets in Stanmer village. Pub at Falmer. Ice cream van usually at Ditchling Beacon.
  • accessible by bus and train

disabled access signtrainbuscup of tea

Part of Brighton and Hove Council’s excellent  ‘Downs on Your Doorstep’ series of leaflets, this leaflet details walking options starting from Stanmer Park (or Falmer Train Station), including a more  substantial walk up to Ditchling Beacon, the highest point in East Sussex. Stanmer is a beautiful downland park containing the grade I listed Stanmer House (now partly a pub), the flintstone Stanmer Church and a  quiet village street with a good value tea shop.

Poppies near Ditchling Beacon

Poppies near Ditchling Beacon, July 2016

A profusion of bluebells can be seen on the higher reaches of Stanmer Great Wood during the spring, and you may see poppies in June and July.