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Walk East from Devils Dyke

Walk East from Devils Dyke

Devils Dyke is a extraordinary short valley cut into The Downs ten thousand years ago by the last ice age. It’s five miles north of Brighton. The hill top was an iron age fort.

Most people walk west from the National Trust car park (found just to the north of the Devils Dyke pub) along the ridge of the Downs. There are attractive views from this ridge. You can see the sea to the south, the North Downs to the north (on a clear day) and as far as Chanctonbury Ring (a landmark clump of trees) near Washington in the West.

This view was taken from the car park looking west on Friday 5th February 2021 and is a fairly unusual sight with cloud spilling over ridge and down to the plain and the village of Fulking. The temperature was 5 degrees and when the mist rolled away, which it did in a few minutes, there was brilliant sunshine. The dyke itself is just to the south east of this viewpoint.

Paragliding and hang-gliding are popular here.

There’s a google map at the end of this article and it’s interesting to click on the little dark green rectangle in the bottom left corner to see an aerial view of the “dyke” and the surrounding area. Devils Dyke is just north of Devils Dyke Road which is the road running past the marked Dyke Golf Club.

If you walk east from the National Trust car park by the Devils Dyke pub and onto the hill top you have views north east and south. Recently half a dozen Dartmoor ponies were released in this area. We didn’t see them but you can see a video by Richard Boyd at the end of this post  who captured the ponies running in the snow on 7th February 2021.
The view in the picture above is east towards the hamlet of Saddlescombe.

After only about 200 yards walking due east you have choices. You can walk around the hilltop on the the north or south side of the small plateau. We walked on and down this path which curves north. Ahead you can see Newtimber Hill which is to the north of Saddlescombe.

Even though there had been a long period of heavy rain in preceding weeks this path was dry and easily walked.

If we had continued along it we would have come, eventually, to the village of Poynings with its pub, the Royal Oak. The food is good here and they serve Harvey’s beer. (Currently closed because of Covid lockdown.)

About 100 yards down this path we did a u-turn to our right to descend to the floor of the Devils Dyke valley. This path was very muddy.

The path comes out at the bottom of the hill at the east end of the actual “dyke”, by a style and gate which is just below the centre of this picture. It can be seen better in the close-up in the next pictures.

By this time we were heading south and continuing round to the west, and heading gently up hill. This track is on the south side of the “dyke”. At the western end, the top of the valley, you get to the minor road that leads to the pub. A hundred yards along the road and you are back to the starting point in the car park.

An alternative route from the style is to stay in the valley bottom and then at the end of the valley take the steep climb out of it and up to the pub.

Climbing out of the valley and looking west. The pub is just behind the trees on the ridge, right of centre.

The whole walk, which is quite short, probably less than 2 miles, at a very leisurely pace took nearly 2 hours.


National Trust Pay car park by pub, free to NT members. Avoid trying to come here at what you may guess will be a peak time. Arrive early, arrive late. Enjoy the experience in hostile weather. 10 a.m. on a beautiful Friday in February the car park was less than half full.

There is a toilet next to the pub which is not owned or operated by the National Trust. It is currently CLOSED.

Toilets: This is a major tourist attraction. I think The National Trust, which receives a lot of money from charging the thousands of visitors for car parking, should provide public toilet facilities here, maintain them and keep them open at all times.

Car park: The National Trust  should also prioritise  resurfacing the car park extension to get it back into use. (February 2021.)

More information from The National Trust which owns the car park and hilltop. An interesting website well worth a visit.

Devils Dyke pub, BN1 8YJ  Phone 01273 857 256

Royal Oak pub Poynings, BN45 7AQ  Phone 01273 857 389

David Roberts 8 February 2021

Please consider sharing this post and adding your own information if you would like to add anything in the Comment box. It would be good to hear other people’s experiences.

Many thanks to Richard Boyd for this video.

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Nymans National Trust House and Gardens Story

Nymans House
Nymans HouseThe story of Nymans is very unusual

Nymans is a National Trust house and gardens situated in mid Sussex a few miles south of Crawley.
Most National Trust Houses are ancient mansions, castles and estates that have belonged to the rich and powerful of hundreds of years ago. Nymans appears to be another ancient home though on a smaller scale than most. It appears to be a medieval manor house with an extensive Gothic part that is so old it has fallen into decay.
In fact, the Nymans estate only began to be developed in 1890 when the land was purchased by a wealthy German stockbroker, Ludwig Messel. He had a great interest in trees and plants and began the development of Nymans’ tree planting and collection of shrubs and flowers. He developed the wall garden, the heather garden and the pergola walk.


It was Ludwig’s son, Leonard, who inherited the property in 1916, who was an even more enthusiastic plantsman than his father and added greatly to the Nymans collections.

Nymans House
Nymans House

The house and family

It was Leonard who built a new house in the Tudor and Gothic style. So the house which appears to be medieval and which we see today is little over 100 years old.

Why the ruin?

In October 1947 a disastrous fire swept through most of the property creating the burnt out shell we see today at the southern end.
The house was partially re-built after the fire and became one of the homes of Anne Messel, Leonard’s daughter who married Ronald Armstrong Jones. Their son, Anthony, married the Queen’s sister, Princess Margaret, in 1960 and became Lord Snowdon in 1961. For many years he lived on the Nyman’s estate.
Anne’s brother, Oliver Messel, became a famous theatre designer.
Leonard gave Nymans to The National Trust in 1954 but the house continued to be lived in by the family.

Nymans cedar tree and ruin
Nymans House seen from the south, across the main lawn
Anne with her son Anthony. National Trust photograph
 Anne Messel

Anne’s second husband was the Earl of Rosse and Anne lived with her husband mainly in Ireland in Birr Castle, but she often came to live at Nymans. Anne was one of the founders of The Victorian Society which aimed to preserve the (then unfashionable) art and architecture of the Victorian period.
Anne was also a keen gardener and took a hand in Nymans’ continuing development. With her husband she added rhododendrons, camellias, hydrangeas, hypericums, agapanthus, hardy fuschias and more roses. In 1979, following the death of her husband she returned permanently to Nymans to spend her final years here. She was Director of the Garden until1987. She died at Nymans in July 1992 aged 90.
When the house re-opens it is her home that visitors will be able to see. Meanwhile there are the extensive gardens.

An interior view of Nymans, National Trust Photograph


Members of The National Trust – admission free
Non-member adult (aged 18+) £10.00
Non-member child (aged 5-17) £5.00
Non-member family (2 adults max 3 children)£25.00
Non-member family (1 adult max 3 children)£15.00
Booking essential till the end of August
To book call 0344 249 1895
Dogs are not allowed in the gardens but are welcome in the woods


Nymans, Staplefield Lane, Handcross RH17 6EB

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Nymans National Trust House, Gardens and Woodland – Sussex UK – Partially open 2020

Nymans cedar tree and ruin

Nymans is a National Trust house and gardens situated in mid Sussex a few miles south of Crawley, just off the A23.

Now open again after the covid closure with a reduction in facilities and visitors are restricted to following a one way system. It is necessary to book your arrival time but once here you can stay till closing time if you wish. The cafe has been demolished and a new improved one will be ready for visitors in the Autumn (2020). A small refreshment/ice cream stall operates at the end of the Lime Trees Walk.


Open every day 10.00 till 17.00

Members of The National Trust – admission free

Non-member adult (aged 18+) £10.00

Non-member child (aged 5-17) £5.00

Non-member family (2 adults max 3 children)£25.00
Non-member family (1 adult max 3 children)£15.00

Booking essential till end of August
To book call 0344 249 1895
Dogs are not allowed in the gardens but are welcome in the woods.


Nymans, Staplefield Lane, Handcross RH17 6EB

Map below.

We have visited Nymans many times and there is still much to enjoy here. The walk along the eastern edge offers views across the Sussex Weald. Often, when we come here, we walk down into the valley, by the lakes and through the woodlands on the public paths. In fact you can do the woodland walks without entering Nymans at all. No charge for this.

Now the house itself is closed to visitors but you can visit almost the entire area of gardens. We visited last Tuesday (18 August 2020) looking for some ideas for plants that would be flowering at this time of year as our garden is currently a bit short of colour.  I took a few photographs.

A sketch of the story of Nymans and its owners will be the subject of another post.

David Roberts

Nymans cedar tree and ruin
Nymans ruin and cedar tree from the south

The lime tree walk on the eastern edge of the gardens. Part of the burnt out ruin of the house. The sunk garden and the house seen from the south.

Finding your way round Nymans

Plan of Nymans Gardens

The corona virus inspired one-way system for walking round Nymans

Nymans access with covid restrictions

David Roberts, August 2020,   Please share.