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Bird’s Eye View

Bird’s Eye View

Cycle the South Downs Way from Lewes to Ditchling Beacon and admire stunning 360-degree views across the across the weald and out to the English Channel.

At 248 metres above sea-level, Ditchling Beacon is the highest point in East Sussex and was once the site for a warning beacon which was lit in times of imminent invasion.

Ditchling Beacon is just south of the pretty village of Ditchling where you can visit the award-winning Ditchling Museum of Art & Craft. The museum holds a collection of the work of artists who lived in Ditchling from the beginning of the 20th century. Here you can view the work of wood engraver and typographer Eric Gill, poet and painter David Jones, the printer Hilary Pepler and weaver Ethel Mairet.

Enjoy a delicious lunch of home-made locally sourced food at the Ditchling Tea Rooms and visit the nearby family run Ridgeview Wine Estate. Winner of several national and international sparkling wine awards, Ridgeview uses traditional sparkling grape varieties and methods and has been chosen as the official suppliers for Downing Street receptions. Pre-booking a tour is recommended, as they do sell out.

After your visit to Ditchling, return east along the South Downs Way back to Lewes.

Getting around
Distance 12 miles linear
Duration A day
Grade Challenging
Directions – Cycle
  1. Cycle right from Lewes railway station up Station Street and turn left into the High Street.
  2. Continue along the High Street A277 into Western Road
  3. Take the right fork into Spital Road and follow the sign posts to the South Downs Way.
  4. Cycle west along the South Downs Way until you cross Ditchling Road, then bear right and head north along the road.
  5. Alternatively continue on the South Downs Way until it meets the Sussex Border Path, then head north along the Sussex Border Path to Ditchling village.
  6. Take the 1st exit on the roundabout onto West Street where you will find the Ditchling Tea Rooms.
  7. Lodge Hill Lane and the museum is next right.
  8. From the roundabout, head north along the High Street and continue straight on the B2112 until you see the signs for Ridgeview.
  9. Follow the route back to the South Downs Way to return to Lewes.

Useful Information

The 160 km South Downs Way is the only UK National Trail fully accessible to riders and can be completed in a two or three-day trip throughout the year. The views are stunning, the climbs challenging and the descents exhilarating. If you manage the entire trail you’ll even get a free certificate.

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For a longer ride and more spectacular views, instead of returning to Lewes, cycle west along the South Downs Way past the Jack and Jill windmills onto Devil’s Dyke, the longest and deepest dry valley in the UK. John Constable described the panorama from Devil’s Dyke as ‘the grandest view in the world’. Decide for yourself whether the legend of the Devil digging this chasm to drown the parishioners of the Weald is true or not!


Stay another night in Lewes and cycle east along the South Downs Way ON TWO WHEELS to Eastbourne Pier.

Along the route, you can visit another South Downs vineyard, Rathfinney and the historic village of Alfriston, on the SOUTH DOWNS WINE itinerary.


Ditchling Beacon
Ditchling Museum of Art & Craft
Ditchling Tea Rooms
Ridgeview Wine Estate
South Downs Way
Jack and Jill windmills
Devil’s Dyke
Ditchling Tea Rooms
Birling Gap


"The Downs...too much for one pair of eyes, enough to float a whole population in happiness."