Devil’s Dyke Circular Walk
Route Summary: A circular walk in the South Downs exploring the Devil’s Dyke dry valley.
A circular walk in the South Downs exploring the Devil’s Dyke dry valley.
|4 km||149 m||1–1.5 hrs|
Calculate the time using Naismith’s Rule and factor in your own pace.
Start and Finish: Devil's Dyke Car Park
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Devil’s Dyke Circular Walk Route Map and GPX DownloadDownload file for GPS
Summits and Places on this Route
- Devil’s Dyke (217 metres)
Devil’s Dyke Circular Walk Details
At over 1.5km long, the Devil’s Dyke is the longest, deepest and widest dry valley in the UK. In the Iron Age there was a hill fort here, taking advantage of the naturally defendible position. In the Victorian Era, it was even more popular, being served by its own railway line as far as Devil’s Dyke Farm until 1939, a cable car from 1894–1909 and a funicular railway from Poynings around the same time. The summit could boast a fairground, bandstand, an observatory and a camera obscura and was visited by a record 30,000 people on Whit Monday in 1893. This was possibly due to John Constable, who noted that the view from the Devil’s Dyke as ‘the grandest view in the world’
Today, there’s a pub there instead, so no wonder it’s still popular!
The dry valley itself was formed during the last ice age, but not directly from the action of ice as the South Downs were cold but not glaciated. It was formed when the meltwater from snow and permafrost created new rivers that consequently formed the dry v shaped valley we see today. Folklore would have us believe that it formed when the devil decided to dig a trench to allow seawater to flood churches in the Weald of Sussex. However, he never completed the dyke for various reasons that include being persuaded by a crowing cock that morning was approaching, stubbing his toe and then kicking the stone in anger or even more bizzarely that he was a huge goat who feared the salt water. The video below provides some more information.
The walk starts from the car park, continuing towards the hill fort and down towards the village of Poynings along the western rim of the Devil’s Dyke. The route then returns along the opposite side of the valley to return to the start of the walk.
The walk can also be accessed from other local villages such as Poynings, Fulking and Saddlescombe for those looking for an alternative walk. Or you can walk up the valley bottom, which will often be a carpet of colourful flowers in spring and summer.
More information and a leaflet with full route information on the Devil’s Dyke Walk can be downloaded from the South Downs National Park website here.