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Devil's Dyke circular
1 - The number 77 bus (see The Essentials panel) will take you from central Brighton to the Devil’s Dyke and deposit you in the parking area beside the Devil’s Dyke pub, the first on our walk. From
the roadside walk
to the large stone memorial seat and orientation plinth, opposite the pub, take in the wide-ranging view – below is the Low Weald with the High Weald in the middle distance. To the far north are the North Downs. Away to the half-left is the high point of Sussex at Blackdown and the South Downs extend into the distance, left and right.
From the orientation table walk northward, bearing right on the trodden path, down the scarp slope, crossing a ditch and bank that are part of the Iron Age enclosure, then passing through a kissing-gate.
2 - Turn right from the gate on a descending balcony path, contouring around the hillside. In a short distance you cross a shallow gully running from the top of the hill to the bottom, this is
the line of the Victorian funicular that gave day-trippers a thrill as they journeyed to the station and Poynings at the bottom.
In about 300 yards at a fork in the track, take the left option, passing a marker post with coloured arrows marked on it. On coming to rough steps, descend with care. After passing through a wooden kissing gate, take the left branch in the path (yellow badge). Descend more rough steps, and a tree root-rutted path, to a National Trust sign and marker post. Take the left-branching bridleway, known as Dyke Lane, towards Poynings.
3 - Turn right along the village street to the Royal Oak pub – the second pub on this expedition – turn left up a ramp. Pass by the pub garden and car park (unless tempted to slake your
thirst) and locate the surfaced footpath ahead that descends beside a house.
Pass through a kissing gate and continue for a few yards beside paddocks to a second gate. Walk ahead for about 25 yards to a marker post, turning left on an enclosed path. At a driveway called Mill Lane turn left, soon passing the old mill house, where old mill machinery lies in the garden.
Continue along the lane, passing a water treatment works, to a three-way path sign and cross a stile, going ahead on a rougher track.
At this point in our journey, the stream to the left of the track becomes more obvious. This watercourse has its origins in the Downs at the back of Poynings, where it flows from the chalk, close to Devil’s Dyke. It winds its way through ponds that once yielded watercress; passes under bridges and a road, and alongside the watermill, where it was a source of motive power, on its meandering way to the River Adur.
4 - The path now heads west, providing superb views to the scarp slope of the Downs. The scene shows the result, over time, of uplift and erosion of the Earth’s surface that has resulted in
the geography we see today. The folds in the hill’s northern slopes are best seen in the early morning or evening, when shadows emphasise the profiles.
The path soon crosses a field bridge, climbing quarter-left, to a skyline stile. Continue across the top of the next raised field, following the trodden path to a stile in 400 yards.
Keep to the right hedgeline in the next field and at the corner cross into Clappers Lane. Turn right, then bear right as the road bends and crosses above that stream again.
In a few yards turn left up a driveway and, by a gate, divert left over a stile on to a footpath, crossing a low-lying meadow and going left over a footbridge, in 200 yards.
Cross into a paddock, go half-left towards a hedge corner, turning right up a hedgeline to the top field corner and crossing a double stile and bridge.
In the next field, maintain direction to the top corner, crossing over a track and dropping to the right corner of the next field. Cross a stile and turn right, pass through a kissing gate, walking beside a hedge for a few yards and then taking the half-left, reinstated path across an arable field.
At the top of the field pass through a gate, up the bank ahead, and walk across the park into Fulking.
5 - Turn right down the village street, bearing left to The Shepherd and Dog pub, a favourite for generations.
At the bottom of the hill water gushes on to the road and the Downs are closer. The pub terrace may prove too much of a temptation for the weary traveller needing to lubricate the parts that only Sussex ale can reach and providing a tonic for the thirstiness of the short-distance walker.
On resuming the expedition, walk across the pub’s car park, bearing left and locating a narrow footpath, climbing through bushes to a crossing path.
Turn right up the path, crossing a stile in 75 yards. Hidden in bushes down to the right, a spring burbles from the chalk and is the source of the stream seen beside the car park.
Continue up steps, coming to a NT sign, then a marker post. Climb ahead over open ground to a crossing, deep bostal path. Cross over the bostal to a rising bridleway and follow the grassy track, passing a thoughtfully
positioned seat, around the precipitous coombe.
At the top of the climb pass through a bridle gate and maintain direction, heading for the skyline marker post. Continue to a more heavily-trodden path, bearing left towards the Iron Age ramparts of the enclosure. Keep to the main path that leads to the parking area, pub and bus stop.
- DISTANCE/TIME: Three and three quarter miles, taking two hours, plus refreshment stops.
- BY CAR: Follow the Devil’s Dyke Road north from the A27 turn-off, parking in the National Trust car park, fee payable. It’s better by bus. Start point grid ref TQ259111
- BY PUBLIC TRANSPORT: No 77 bus from Brighton Pier, via Brighton Station and Seven Dials to Devil’s Dyke, operates every day until August 31; last bus leaves Devil’s Dyke at 8.35pm. Service operates Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays at other times. Phone Brighton & Hove buses on 01273 886200, or go to www.buses.co.uk.
- WHAT’S UNDERFOOT: Downs and Weald, steep descent (care required) at start and a climb to finish. Possible with a baby backpack, care required on steep steps; not possible with a baby buggy.
- THIRSTY WORK: The Devil’s Dyke pub; The Royal Oak at Poynings; The Shepherd And Dog at Fulking.
- SO YOU DON’T GET LOST: OS Explorer maps 122, plus a compass for general direction.
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