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. https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/devils-dyke
Devils Dyke pub, BN1 8YJ Phone 01273 857 256
Royal Oak pub Poynings, BN45 7AQ Phone 01273 857 389
David Roberts 8 February 2021
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Many thanks to Richard Boyd for this video.