Walk 7: Ditchling Beacon to Southease – 11.8 miles

Looking eastwards along the SDW from Ditchling Beacon
Looking eastwards along the SDW from Ditchling Beacon – click to enlarge

Since this walk starts at the highest point in East Sussex and ends near sea level there is rather more down that up on this section.

There is just one significant ascent of 380 feet  up Newmarket Hill from the A27 Brighton to Lewes road crossing. And with luck there is a cream tea waiting for you at the splendid new YHA Hostel at Itford Farm , Southease.

For deatils of transport to and from the walks see here.


Leaving the National Trust car park at Ditchling Beacon you cross over the road and enjoy classic ridge walking with excellent views north across the Weald and south to Brighton and the sea.  Just before the hill known as Blackcap you leave the track that leads onward to Lewes and turn right down towards the busy A27 which is crossed via a bridge. There is a garage selling refreshments and a lay-by snack bar but the noise of the traffic did not encourage us to linger.

Firle Beacon beyond Ouse Valley
Firle Beacon beyond the  Ouse Valley

From here it is a steady climb up to the summit of Newmarket Hill to join the Juggs track (the traditional route for fish in ‘Juggs’ from Brighton to the county town of  Lewes in days past). When the Juggs descends to Kingston the SDW swings south again to follow the ridge along  edge of the Ouse valley, with excellent views across to Mount Caburn, Beddingham Hill, the prominent nob of Firle Beacon and beyond.

But it is all downhill from here,  with views south east to the chalk cliffs of Seaford Head. Approaching Rodmell, we crossed the Greenwich Meridian and so passed from the Western to the Eastern Hemisphere. Descending into the Ouse valley finally the SDW passes  through the hamlet of Southease with its round church tower, across the River Ouse and Newhaven to Lewes railway line and the cafe of the YHA hostel which marks the end of the walk.

High above the Ouse valley with views to Newhaven and Seaford Head