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An ancient chalkland valley
Devil's Dyke (or Devil’s Ditch) is a V-Shaped valley, near Brighton. Its viewpoint offers fab views north towards the Weald and south over the sea. It is the largest Dyke in the UK and part of the Southern England chalk formation. The site has extensive areas of chalk grassland in the country. Sensitive management of the site has helped ensure several orchids and butterflies thrive in the area. It has been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and it is also a candidate Special Area for Conservation, which provides EU protection for the site.
The valley stretches for 12km across the open chalk landscape and the more wooded landscape on the clay ridges. Although it is privately owned, there is a public footpath and walkers are welcome. The best place to appreciate the size of valley is on Galley Hill near Burwell, where it is about 10m high from the base of the ditch to the top of the bank.
The name derives from a common belief that such landforms must be of supernatural origin. According to a folktale, the devil was digging a trench to allow the sea to flood the churches in Sussex. The digging disturbed an old woman who lit a candle. This made the devil believe that it was morning already and he fled the site ;-)
In late Victorian times, it became a tourist attraction with a fairground. There are still traces of various ventures, including concrete bases that used to support pylons, forming part of a funicular, rising 100m from near Poynings to the northern edge of the hill fort and a cable car system that once crossed the valley, hanging 70m above the valley floor and covering a distance of 350m.
Other interesting sites include the remains of a Norman motte and Bailey Castle, the site of a deserted medieval village, Bronze Age burial mounds and old lime kilns.
Viewpoint, public house, public lavatories, car park
Seasonal information officer with mobile trailer from Easter to October
Cycling is not allowed as it can seriously damage the Dyke's wildlife and archeology.
- Hiking and Walking
- Historical Travel
Every July there's a 100km walk along the South Downs Way to raise money for Oxfam and the Gurkha Welfare Trust. You start at the Queen Elizabeth Country Park near Petersfield and finish at Brighton racecourse. you have to walk the whole route with a team of four people and you're only allowed 30 hours to do it - so there's no time to sleep!
This is a really special event because people come from all over the world to take part, there are Gurkha soldiers cheering you on all the way and you get a Nepali curry at the end! You need to book your place through Oxfam in advance and you hve to fundraise a certain amount - about £1,500 for the team.
There's a great party atmosphere at the finish, people in fancy dress, people cheering you on along the route - like the london marathon but much longer and the views are loads better! You can sign up at www.oxfam.org.uk/trailwalker
- Adventure Travel
- Hiking and Walking
Go to devil's dyke! It's beautiful, good exercise (if you choose to walk down it), great for picnics. There's a pub (rubbish brewer's fayre styley) and an ice cream van moore often than not.
The best time to go is when the hang gliding locals are up there in good weather.
Take the open top bus up to...
Take the open top bus up to Devil's Dyke.
It's a pleasant ride, especially in the summer (when the buses are far more frequent anyway) and it gives you car-free access to an amazing view and literally miles of easy walks along the South Downs way.
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