The Best Walks Across the South Downs

Devil’s Dyke is a beautiful place to explore with the whole family
Devil’s Dyke is a beautiful place to explore with the whole family | © Design Pics Inc / Alamy Stock Photo
Stretching 100 miles from Eastbourne to Winchester, the South Downs Way isn’t short of routes offering extensive views of the sea on one side and typical English countryside on the other. Culture Trip’s local insiders share their top walking recommendations.

Coney Wood

Natural Feature, Forest

Sitting on a hillside between Patcham and the expansive countryside of Green Ridge, Coney Wood, just north of Brighton, is a popular green oasis among the city’s residents. The lush woodland scenery and wildlife-spotting opportunities are worth the trip, and if your legs can carry you up the steep ascent, you’ll be rewarded with gorgeous vistas over the South Downs. Recommended by local insider Clare Scott

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The Chattri Trail

Hiking Trail, Natural Feature
The Chattri First World War Memorial on the South Downs near Brighton East Sussex England, in memory of the fallen soldiers from the Indian continent.
© Nigel Burley / Alamy Stock Photo

The Chattri Memorial is a tribute to the Indian soldiers who fought in World War I, many of whom were treated at the Royal Pavilion. The ashes of those who died were scattered here, on this peaceful spot in the South Downs, just north of Patcham. It’s a 1.2mi (2km) walk from the bus stop in the village, but you’ll be rewarded with extensive views over the rolling hills. If you feel like a lengthier hike, check out the Jack and Jill Windmills walk. Recommended by local insider Clare Scott

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Jack and Jill Windmills Walk

Hiking Trail, Natural Feature

Want to make your South Downs walk even more relaxing? Just add a clapboard windmill or two, and your English country idyll is complete. The Jack and Jill windmills sit high on the downs above the village of Clayton, with a short, well-mapped walking trail that offers exceptional views. Jill windmill is fully operational, thanks to the restoration work of a team of dedicated volunteers. You can break up your walk with a guided tour here – and buy some traditional stone-ground flour as a souvenir. Recommended by local insider Clare Scott

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Devil’s Dyke

Hiking Trail
Photographer On The South Downs Near Devils Dyke Outside Of Brighton, East Sussex, England
© Dan Hasson / Alamy Stock Photo

Romantic landscape painter John Constable once described the panorama from Devil’s Dyke as “the grandest view in the world”, and when you’re there, it’s hard to disagree with him. Views over the UK’s longest, deepest and widest dry valley are certainly striking, and a wander from the main viewpoint can bring you to the remains of an Iron Age hill fort and a Victorian funfair – with a colourful carpet of wildflowers and insects across the valley floor. For a good 2hr circular walk, check out the Chasm Explorer trail, and finish off at the Devil’s Dyke pub next to the viewpoint. Recommended by local insider Ellie Ricketts

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Saddlescombe Farm and Newtimber Walk

Hiking Trail

This National Trust trail near Devil’s Dyke encompasses everything good about the South Downs. Rolling chalk hills with views that stretch for miles into the distance? Check. Interesting flora and fauna to spot as you walk round? Check. Lovely tea room at the end with promising cake options? Also, check. If you’re looking for a scenic countryside walk with views over the Devil’s Dyke valley – and fewer crowds than up on the dyke itself – this will tick all of your boxes. Recommended by local insider Ellie Ricketts

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