Home of the Wheels of Wisdom cycling podcast
Ditchling Beacon is the highest point in East Sussex and the 32nd highest out of the 48 English counties at 248 metres.
How to find East Sussex’s highest point
If you’re just looking for information on how to find Ditchling Beacon, then this section is for you – read on for the story behind it.
– There’s a National Trust car park a few hundred yards from the summit just a little to the south of the village of Ditchling
– The car park is found on Ditchling Road, just where it joins the curiously named road of Ditchling Bostall. And if you fancy a longer walk then you’re already on the South Downs Way.
The story behind the walk
I wipe the morning condensation from the window and peer through the uneven circle at the weather outside.
The clouds are closing in and the distant rumble of thunder is as foreboding as the strengthening wind. It’s no day to go out in.
But I’ve promised the boys an adventure and a conquest of another English county’s highest point.
East Sussex is an hour to the south west, so I decide to rely on the unpredictability and local nature of the British weather and head out.
We don the essentials: welly boots, gloves, hats, waterproofs, football and of course treats to mark the conquest of another hill, ney, summit.
We drive through the rain as it fights against us, but up ahead the black clouds are turning to white and there, no there, is a hint of hazy blue and the promise of better times.
It’s a stunning winding road through the South Downs and for once I’m not lamenting being on four wheels rather than fighting the elements on two.
There’s a handy car park close to the top. Too close. In five minutes we’re at the top and wondering what to do next.
Thankfully there’s a path winding over the exposed virtually treeless hilltops towards what seems a higher point. But when we get there the previous one looks higher like some hilltop mirage of twisted perspective.
The heavens open again but this time it’s to shower us with sunlight and blue sky and there’s an unbuttoning of coats and pocketing of hats.
We perch on the hillside taking in the view and sure enough there’s clamour to play the boy’s latest favourite prospective Olympic sport – Extreme Downhill Football.
The rules are simple, yet satisfying. Balance your football at the top of the hill, take a run up and the launch the ball down the hill and come running and tumbling after it.
As a sport in flux, cricket is somehow introduced thanks to finding a hefty stick and placing two fielders in catching positions down the hill.
A mighty whack and the stick snaps in two as half of it and the ball come hurtling down the hill as we dissolve into laughter. Maybe it won’t make the cut after all.
Happy and tired we sit on the hill and even the boys are relishing the sense of scale, idly speculating who lives below in the tiny dots of houses – friends, footballers, wizards and is that our house in the distance?
We head back as it starts getting dark and stop off for a drink and the boys choose spicy nuts and stoically munch their way through the burning heat from the spice, wolfing down apple juice and pretending the heat has turned them to dragons.
Yes, this is it, life in a spicy nutshell.
Views – 4 teddies. They stretch for mile upon mile in every direction.
Ascent – 2 teddies
Overall rating – 3 teddies