South Down Way

Day Six - 11th April 2007: Bramber to Kingston – 18 miles

The day dawned fine once more and we were soon out of bed and downstairs for breakfast. There was quite a good selection but again being by ourselves in a large dining room meant that we didn’t tarry. We also had to get going as we had a long day in front of us, another 18 miles at least plus a mile at either end to get to and fro to the path. We also had to find a shop to re stock for lunch as there would be nothing en-route. There is a pub at Devil’s Dyke but we decided that we wouldn’t be there at the right time so ignored that option.

We didn’t seem too bad as we set off, a bit of stiffness that would, we hoped, soon wear off. We found a small convenience store just before Beeding Bridge which had just enough choice to see us through the next couple of days. I had noticed that there was a footpath along each bank of the River Adur and so from the bridge we took this all the way down to where it met the SDW path. It wasn’t a shortcut but just saved retracing our steps back to the pub, and in actual fact it was probably longer as the path we took followed the meanders. Having re-joined the SDW we crossed the busy A283 and immediately set about our first climb of the day. We soon reached the tarmac road that services the Youth Hostel but chose the verge to walk on which was softer on the feet. Already it was hot and soon after passing the masts on Truleigh Hill we stopped for a while and got our breath back. My heel wasn’t too bad, I could feel it but it didn’t really affect my walking but I did nurse it when the need arose.

Perching Hill

We knew that it was going to be a tough day as we knew what was coming. We would be walking directly on our patch and we would be able to see our little town from Ditchling Beacon when we got there. There would be many steep ups and downs and so we were going to get on with it but also take a stop every three miles or so. Therefore we didn’t stop too long before continuing onto Devil’s Dyke where a convenient seat and the wares of an ice cream van took our notice and we succumbed just for a few minutes. Eager to get on we ate the rest of our ice cream on the move as we skirted around the Dyke and descended into Saddlescombe.

Devils Dyke

A sharp ascent onto Newtimber Hill and West Hill awaited us and by the time we had reached the top we were puffing like steam trains. We paused at the top and took in the view of the Sussex Weald with Jack and Jill Windmills, our next point of interest, a good couple of miles away. But first we had to descend to Pyecombe, passing a riding school that was having some kind of event, and then cross the A23 by way of a road bridge. It was then up again past the golf course before turning left towards Jack and Jill.

View back to West Hill from Pyecombe golf course

Jack & Jill

The SDW doesn’t actually go to the windmills but having seen them numerous times we stayed on the main track for a while before stopping near a dew pond for some food. We were feeling tired but not badly so. Knowing the lie of the land helped as we knew exactly how many hills we had left. We were only about half a mile from Ditchling Beacon so knew that for the next couple of hours it was predominately flat or downhill.

Ditchling Beacon in the distance

It was the hottest part of the day but we had to press on, the rest had given us the chance to cool down but we knew that it was only going to get hotter and us more drained. At Ditchling Beacon we splashed the cash again and had another ice cream which we ate, licked and slurped as we walked along.

Streat Hill

The undulating ridge took us through to Blackcap where we left the ridge and started the long gentle downhill trek to the A27. The way took us down into a hollow which meant a very short and sharp ascent through a wood before looking down on the road below us. We stopped at the top and could pick out the route on the other side of the road. It took us away from our final destination in a large loop which necessitated us climbing high up on to the ridge once more. We were probably only about a mile or two at most from our B&B but the route was at least double that. The thought of having to do the loop was daunting but we had no choice but to dig deep and get on with it.

Our legs were heavy but at least it was downhill to the road. We crossed the dual carriageway via a road bridge before going under the railway and starting our climb to the top of Castle Hill.


We took it steady but once the top was gained we stopped for a breather and had a Jordans bar to tide us over until our meal later. We could just make out Ditchling Beacon in the distance, the late afternoon sun shining on the cars in the car park; it seemed a long way away but it was behind us now.

View back to Ditchling Beacon

The path we were to follow was relatively flat and soon we rounded a corner and could make out Kingston, way below us. The path took us straight down the face of the escarpment and was steep and rutted. The quads were complaining as they took the brunt of the work, stopping us from breaking into a run. The path finally flattened out and the last half a mile was wonderfully flat.

Our B&B, Bethel, was right on the footpath that we had followed from the ridge and about the second house into the village. It was a fabulous house with large, light airy rooms and light coloured wood setting off the neutral painted walls. Our room overlooked the back garden, which had a couple of fairly lifelike pretend sheep, and with views across the fields and ultimately to the Downs. We were given a form to fill in with our choices for breakfast for the following day and what time we wanted it prepared, which was very efficient and worked really well.

After doing the necessary, the next job was to find the pub – The Juggs. Fortunately our hosts had already booked a table as it can get very busy. It was dusk and the light was fading fast but after going down a tree lined little track, across a playing field and down a lane we found it and sure enough our table was waiting for us. We had a good meal and a bottle of wine and met up with a couple of gents that were also doing the SDW but from East to West in 4 days, the mad fools! They were also staying at Bethel and they reckoned that it was the best B&B on the whole route, a claim that I think is very possibly correct. They had completed the SDW many times before and used it as training for longer, long distance paths and always tried to stay at Bethel if they could.

We managed to find our way back in the pitch black darkness and promptly went to bed. All things considered we didn’t feel too bad, we were tired but our fitness had improved as the week had progressed. My blister had settled down, which was good, but then I had kept up the padding regime so it obviously worked. The next day was only 11 miles so a recovery day really and we could take our time.


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