1 - From the public car park behind Ditchling Village Hall, Lewes Road (B2116), go to the main road. Turn right along the footway and, in a very short distance where this ends, turn right by a brick wall along a footpath signposted: To the Downs.

Just after the track veers to the left, continue on the grass footpath ahead to cross a stile. Go across the middle of the field and over a wooden walkway and another stile; then head for the farther left-hand corner of the next field to cross another walkway and stile.

Small plaques on the posts indicate that these were provided by the Monday Group. This group was formed in 1961 to open up and preserve the footpath network around Ditchling, especially those leading to the Downs. For more information, visit their website at mondaygroup.org.

Continue diagonally across the next field to go over a stile and along the left-hand field edge to yet another stile. This leads onto a byway and, in about 100 yards, where this bears left, continue straight ahead on a bridleway with woodland on the right and Claycroft Farm on the left.

2 - After a further 500 yards, at a road, turn left and, in 70 yards, turn right on a bridleway going uphill. In about 200 yards, follow the track around to the left and after a further 250 yards on fairly level ground the track begins to veer sharply to the right, climbing quite steeply.

To the left, there are sweeping views over the village of Westmeston and the surrounding countryside. The bridleway eventually runs alongside the road to where the South Downs Way crosses at Ditchling Beacon.

For those who want to go to the highest point with the best panoramic views, cross the road and follow the South Downs Way northwestwards for 250 yards. Then return and cross the road again.

3 - From here, go east on the South Downs Way past a dew pond on the right. Almost immediately, turn left to cross a stile into a field and bear right on the path which goes quite steeply downhill.

On coming to a bridleway track, turn sharp left continuing downhill. There is a seat on the right, if a rest is desired.

Continue through a wooden gate and along the track to another. This leads to Westmeston Farm and on to the road (B2116).

Turn right, and immediately cross the road to the Parish Church. Inside the lychgate is an informative plaque which describes how the churchyard is being managed as a conservation area to encourage flora and wildlife. St Martin’s is a fairly small place of worship, but worth a visit; it is usually open during daytime.

4 - On leaving through the lychgate, cross the road with great care and follow the Jubilee Pathway (see the sign) opposite. Continue on this path which runs parallel to the road for about 300 yards to the other end.

Cross the road, turn right, then immediately left on a bridleway. Follow this for about a mile, passing Middleton Manor on the right, through woodland and across farmland; ignoring all other paths to the left and right.

5 - On approaching Hayleigh Farm with its pond in front of the house, turn left at a prominent green public bridleway sign. From here there are sweeping views across open farmland and several miles of the South Downs northern escarpment.

Continue along this driveway for nearly three-quarters-of-a-mile to a road. Cross and go up steps on a footpath signed: To Ditchling.

Follow this along the inside edge of a wood to a stile which leads into a recreation ground where there is a seat. Go straight ahead, over a footbridge, and across the edge of the football field.

Continue past a finger post and on through a yellow gate. Just before reaching a road, turn right on a marked footpath through rough scrub. This leads to a footbridge and ladder stile. On the other side is a path, fenced on both sides, through Stoneywish Nature Reserve. There are ponds to the right and left, on and around which can be seen various water fowl.

6 - Go over the next ladder stile, turn left along the field edge and over a stile, ignoring a gate and path on the left. Immediately go over another stile on the left.

In a short distance, go through a squeeze stile and turn right along a rough track. A walkway (again, provided by the Monday Group) makes for easier walking on part of this path.

On coming to housing (East Gardens) continue straight ahead uphill. At the top, follow round to the left and down to the road (High Street). Turn left along the footway, and pass the house where Sussex-born sculptor and typographer, Eric Gill once lived (look for the plaque).

Just beyond, turn right into Church Lane, and at the top of an incline, enter the churchyard on the left. Take a look in the Parish Church, it is usually open during daytime. This is a much larger building than the one at Westmeston, indicating that Ditchling was a much more populated village in past centuries.

Leave the churchyard by the main entrance in West Street, cross to The White Horse pub and turn left. Cross the road at the mini roundabout into Lewes Road to return to the Village Hall.

  • Distance/Time: Five-and-a-half miles/two-and-three- quarter hours
  • By Car: Use free public car park (with toilets) behind Ditchling Village Hall (off B2116)
  • By Public Transport: Catch bus 824 from Burgess Hill and Hassocks. Timetable information from Traveline, call 0871 2002233 or visit www.traveline.info The nearest rail station is Hassocks
  • What’s underfoot: Expect field and woodland paths to be muddy, if there has been recent rain
  • Thirsty Work: The Bull pub, High Street, and The White Horse pub, West Street, Ditchling (both near start/finish)
  • So you don’t get lost: OS Explorer 122 plus a compass for general direction

Click here for a full-sized map of the Ditchling circular