The highlight of this week’s walk by Ben Perkins is a recently established link route from Ditchling Beacon southwards into Stanmer Park through beautiful downland combe, marked on the map somewhat inelegantly, but not inappropriately, as Big Bottom.

Please note: This walk description is designed for walkers using the bus from Brighton.

1 From the No 25 terminus bus stop at the University of Sussex, follow the road ahead. Just past a notice for Lewes Court car park, turn left through a car parking area and, in the corner, right along a wide path which rises between university accommodation blocks.

After 100 yards or so, go ahead up across grass for a few yards to reach a stile in the university perimeter fence.

2 Once over this stile, turn right with this fence on your right at first. Shortly, where the fence turns squarely away to your right, veer only very slightly right across a field to the far corner where you can feed into a wide farm track. After 20 yards only, go right over a stile into woodland.

After a few more yards, at a Y-junction, fork left and soon climb steeply up through the wood. At a T-junction, turn left along a substantial path which eventually opens out to give good views ahead and to the left across undulating downland and the distant high point of Ditchling Beacon. Feed into an access drive, bear left and follow it downhill.

3 Pass to the left of various buildings at St Mary’s Farm until, just past the last building on your right, where the main track bends right, you can go ahead through a bridle gate and follow a wide, fenced farm track steadily uphill.

At the top of the first rise, go through a bridlegate and ahead along a left field-edge.

Ignoring a gate on your left, continue down into a shallow dip. A well-trodden unfenced path takes you across this dip to a gate and steadily up to the crest of the Downs where you will join the South Downs Way. Turn left along the ridge with a superb view to your right, northwards into the Weald.

4 About 60 yards short of the Ditchling Beacon road and car park, turn left through a swing gate and go squarely ahead, dropping down into a dry downland valley, Big Bottom, a public open-access area established under recent government legislation.

Follow the valley floor as far as a cattle trough where you should veer slightly left, obliquely up the right-hand side of the valley to another swing gate, visible on the skyline.

Through this gate, maintain a fairly level course along the hill side, walking parallel to a low bank along the right field-edge. Where this bank ends, maintain direction, dropping gently downhill, following faint wheel tracks. Pass between two clumps of trees and aim for the bottom right field corner.

5 Go through a gate a few yards to the right of this corner and bear left along the left edge of the next field, following it round to the right. As you approach the next field corner, disregard a gate on your left and, in the corner itself, go ahead through a similar bridle gate.

After another 70 yards, go left through a gate and on through a belt of woodland to join a well-established track where you should turn right and follow it up through Millbank Wood.

6 At the top of the hill, where four ways meet beneath power lines, go straight ahead, on a clear track which takes you down and through Stanmer village, passing the conveniently situated Stanmer tea rooms on your left.

At a junction just short of the church, fork left, noting on your right the well-house and donkey wheel which can be glimpsed through a glass window in the well-house door.

Pass, on you left, a car park which provides an alternative starting point and, after a few yards, turn left through a gate and head half right up a grassy slope, aiming for a wide gap in the trees on the skyline.

7 Pass through this gap, keeping to the left side, go through a wooden bridle gate in the corner and immediately right through a metal gate. Go ahead, passing to the right of a circular brick structure, the remains of an observatory.

Drop down to reach the stile at point 2, crossed near the start of the walk. If you have joined the walk at Ditchling Beacon or Stanmer, turn left just short of the stile and pick up the walk description from point 2.

Otherwise, go over the stile and retrace your outgoing route back between the university residence buildings to the bus terminus.

  • Today’s route has been planned to complement, with only minimal duplication, the walk from Hassocks to Falmer, published in the Argus on May 16 this year, downloadable from the Argus website.

Distance/Time: Six miles/three hours

By Car: Park either in the National Trust car park at Ditchling Beacon joining the walk at point four, or in the car park next to Stanmer Church, linking with the walk between points six and seven.

By Public Transport: (Recommended). Take any of the frequent No 25 buses from the centre of Brighton to the University of Sussex, alighting at the terminus bus stop at GR346096

What’s underfoot: Excellent walking along paths and tracks and, undefined, across downland pasture. Some of the paths described are not yet marked on the Explorer map.

Thirsty Work: Stanmer Tea Rooms in Stanmer Village between points six and seven.

So you don’t get lost: OS Explorer 122, though several of the used paths are not marked on this map.