Hassocks to Lewes via the South Downs Way
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This 11 mile walk forms a classic part of the South Downs Way. Ditchling Beacon, at 248 metres above sea level, is the highest point in East Sussex and the second on the whole of the South Downs and where we shall hopefully be rewarded with great views in all directions.
From the walk start, we will climb the Downs to reach the Jack and Jill windmills which stand next to one another. One of the Clayton Windmills ('Jill') is a working post mill, with its 1852 'Sussex Tailpole' on wheels for changing direction.
We will then continue to Ditchling Beacon, once an Iron Age fort, with traces of ramparts still visible, which was was a site for one of the beacons that gave warning of the Spanish Armada.
We continue along the Downs until reaching the historic town of Lewes. Lewes Castle, and the Barbican House Museum nearby, are normally open to visitors (subject to Covid restrictions) until 5.30pm daily (last entrance 5pm); admission around £6.00. The castle was built by William de Warenne, who fought alongside William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings. Its towers were added about the time of the Battle of Lewes. In this battle in 1264, the rebel earl, Simon de Montfort, with an army of Londoners and 5,000 barons, defeated Henry III, who had two horses killed under him and was forced to seek refuge in Lewes Priory. The Mise of Lewes was signed next day and led to England's first parliamentary meeting at Westminster in 1265.
We will end the walk in the centre of Lewes. There are regular trains from Lewes to either London Victoria or Brighton.
Photo credits: With permission of C Holt (ODL Member) and M Bates (Event Leader)
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- Unfortunately, there won’t be any planned pub / café stops en route or at the end, and please don’t share sweets or snacks with others – we’re sorry!
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What to bring
Water: bring at least two litres
Medicines: if you have hay fever, diabetes, minor ailments etc.
Day rucksack: typically 20-30 litres, they are comfortable to wear and allow you to use your arms freely
Boots: waterproof and breathable and designed for hiking, trainers are OK if the ground is dry and there’s little chance of rain
Socks: proper walking socks will keep your feet dry and help prevent blisters
Layered clothing: lets you quickly adapt to changes in the weather and body temperature. Go for a base layer (vest or t-shirt) and a mid layer (a micro fleece or shirt) and in cooler weather add an outer layer (a windproof jacket or thick fleece)
Trousers: ideally no jeans as they become heavy and cold in the rain, breathable fabrics are more comfortable and dry and on warm days shorts are OK
Waterproof jacket: essential when hiking in all but the calmest of weather, breathable fabrics are more comfortable and dry
Hat or cap: stay warm in winter and shaded in summer
Sunglasses: for any sunny day, even in winter
Sun cream: can be useful even on cloudy and winter days
Snacks: bring biscuits, energy bars, gels, bananas, chocolate or dried fruit for example and put them somewhere easy to get hold of
Lunch: bring a packed lunch unless otherwise stated
Food & drink
Please bring a packed lunch, snacks and plenty of water.