Again, this walk starts with a stiffish climb up from the Adur Valley followed by a double dip to Saddlescombe and then Pycombe before a gentle climb up to the highest point in East Sussex. But tree cover from here on is much sparser and the result is excellent views in all directions. And for once you are spoilt for choice for refreshments along the way.
There are two car parks to choose from at the start alongside the A283 at Upper Beeding (see here) but no other facilities. The riverside start means climbing over 500 feet to the ridge of the escarpment over 2 miles at an average gradient of 4.8%.
But once accomplished the walk is more or less level, passing Truleigh Hill YHA and dipping briefly at the Fulking Escarpment, before arriving at the 650 foot Devil’s Dyke where you can vere off the SDW a few yards for drinks and sustenance at the Devil’s Dyke Hotel restaurant. It’s not our favourite watering hole but it is the only one you will find on the top of the South Downs.
From here the path descends past the Dyke itself, an impressive 330 foot deep dry valley, to Saddlescombe where the Hiker’s Rest Tearoom nestles in the old farmyard (check opening times PHONE NUMBER) from March to December.
The 250 foot climb from Saddlescombe up and over Newtimber Hill is quite steep at times and the descent to Pycombe can be exceptionally muddy for a SDW path at the bottom. After the bridge over the busy A23 London to Brighton Road a detour of just a few yards off the SDW brings you to the Plough public house where lunches can be had. If you have had enough by this point it is easy to catch a bus to Brighton from here.
The SDW rises fairly gently upwards from Pycombe, skirting past the Jack and Jill windmills, onto the ridge again and after a short gentle final climb on springy Downland sward you are soon at Ditchling Beacon.
There is a National Trust Car Park at this popular viewpoint just north of Brighton which is fine on weekdays. But it is very busy at weekends and frequently full. In Summer there are weekend buses to the Beacon (and the Dyke) from Brighton. There are no facilities at the car park other than a nice view over the Weald and an itinerant ice cream van.