With so much going on in the city centre, it is easy to forget about the rolling hills and sun-dappled fields that lie just a tiny bit further afield. Brighton is not lacking in breath-taking scenery: dramatic cliffs run along the coast, overlooking the sparkling sea and in-land woods, forests and amazing views are waiting to be explored. Devil’s Dyke is just five miles from Brighton city centre, but offers an escape to another world of hills, valleys, wildlife and ancient mythology.
The romantic poet John Constable described the view from Devil’s Dyke as ‘the grandest view in the world’, and he wasn’t wrong. Clamber to the summit for views of the South Downs, The Weald, and on clear days – The Isle of Wight. If the views weren’t enough, also keep your eyes peeled for part of an Iron Age hill fort and remnants of a Victorian funfair and railway station that have been abandoned for almost 100 years.
Devil’s Dyke’s distinctive V-shaped valley is believed by geologists to have been caused by river erosion, but in true Brighton style, local residents have an alternative explanation. The story goes that the Devil was digging a trench so that the sea could flood all of the churches in the Weald of Sussex. While the devil was digging, an angry rooster was woken up and started crowing. Thinking it was morning, the Devil ran away, leaving his trench unfinished. As he fled, he threw the last shovel of earth over his shoulder, forming the Isle of Wight!
To get to the Dyke, hop on the scenic number 77 bus (open-topped in the summer) or start the walk early and take the South Downs Way from Brighton. The Devil’s Dyke pub is open daily, serves food and is perfect for a well deserved post-walk pint. There are lots of different foot paths to explore so you can tailor a walk based on your ability and how much time you have. Plus, if you’re feeling brave, look out for the ‘Devil’s Graves’ at the bottom of the Dyke. Rumour has it that the Devil and his wife are buried at the bottom, and if you run round backwards around the humps seven times while holding your breath, the Devil will appear!