Surrounded by glorious Sussex countryside, and just fifteen minutes’ drive from the sea, Ditchling makes a fantastic basic for a walking or cycling weekend, or just a lazy couple of days away, pairing pub lunches and vineyard visits with a visit to a museum or two.
The joy of Ditchling is that once you have arrived, you can leave the car and explore on foot. From the village there are walking trails up onto the South Downs, to the beautifully restored Oldland Windmill and along old drovers tracks to the neighbouring villages of Plumpton and East Chiltington (both with great pubs). The South Downs Way runs like a spine along the ridge of the Downs, linking Devils Dyke with the Jack and Jill Windmills and Ditchling Beacon, offering truly spectacular views of inland Sussex to the north, and the English Channel to the south.
For more information, visit https://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/south-downs-way or https://www.southdowns.gov.uk/.
If you’d rather explore on two wheels, then you’ve come to the right place – Ditchling Beacon is one of the great cycling challenges in the south-east, and every weekend the village sees dozens of cyclists gliding through the streets. Bikes can be hired at Hassocks Community Cycle Hire, for an afternoon, day or longer, and they offer guided rides as well as route suggestions and advice. If you want to finetune your own bike before setting out, head to the Velusso Cycling Café in Ditchling; alongside fresh cakes, pastries and locally-roasted coffee, they offer tools and spares for making adjustments before you hit the road.
In spite of its proximity to Brighton, Ditchling and the surrounding area retain a wonderfully rural feel, with country parks and nature reserves that are perfect for exploring with the family. An easy walk from the village, Stoneywish is a 50-acre nature reserve; lush meadows, tranquil wetlands and woods that are home to owls, foxes, deer and dozens of bird species. Kids will love the large play area, while the well-marked walking trails offer the chance to really feel off-grid – even if just for an hour or two. A mile or two further north, Ditchling Common is a 188-acre reserve, with two fishing ponds (permits and licenses needed), walking trails and some lovely picnic spots.