Walking holiday in Brighton’s South Downs

Ellen Tout escapes to the beautiful South Downs on a dog friendly walking break and learns there’s more to Brighton than the pier and shops


Walking holiday in Brighton’s South Downs

I’ve got many happy memories of exploring Brighton – throwing stones into the sea, eating chips on the pier and shopping in The Lanes. Brighton is one of my favourite towns, but I’d never strayed far beyond its centre. So I packed up my car, Bella the dog on the backseat and my walking boots at the ready. We were staying in the town centre, but looking forward to embracing the South Downs and Brighton’s local walks.

Arriving late on Friday, we drop off our bags and head to the beach, keen to make the most of the warm spring evening. Dogs are welcome on the beaches in Brighton & Hove from October until the end of April, and only in certain areas for the rest of the year. Walking along the promenade, chips in hand, with Bella running down to the sea is such a treat. We follow the coast along to the marina and back past the historic Volk’s Railway, meeting local walkers and enjoying the evening air.

National Trust’s Devil’s Dyke

The following morning, we decide to explore the South Downs at the National Trust’s Devil’s Dyke in West Sussex. You can take the number 77 bus from in front of the pier, directly to Devil’s Dyke, but we choose the easy 20-minute drive. Arriving in the South Downs I feel the calmness wash over me – the landscape is a patchwork of fields, stretching for miles and undulating with the shape of the land.

At nearly a mile long, the Dyke valley is the longest, deepest and widest ‘dry valley’ in the UK. From here you can see as far as Ashdown Forest, Kent and even the Isle of Wight. Local myths believed that this valley was formed by the devil digging a trench to try and flood the area. After lunch at the charming, and dog friendly, Devil’s Dyke Hotel, we head out across the Downs. There’s a number of trails you can walk on the National Trust website and we decide to follow the top of the valley, passing through fields of calves and fresh rapeseed. From the peak you can see the lights of Brighton beyond – surprisingly close and yet up here it’s so quiet.

Dog friendly pub

That evening, back in Brighton, we enjoy dinner at the cosy gastropub The Ginger Dog. Located in the Kemptown area of Brighton (an easy walk from the centre) the pub is dog friendly and boasts real ales, fine wines, friendly staff and delicious interpretations of traditional pub food; even Bella gets a treat before snoring on the floor for the evening.

We try their sourdough with wild garlic butter followed by the creamy feta, spinach and courgette pie for my guest and I enjoy the tasty miso roasted aubergine. As a vegetarian it’s a delight to have more than just mushrooms on offer and I’d really recommend a visit.

To finish our trip, we go for an early morning walk along the beach and spot some brave swimmers venturing out into the waves. As Bella chases stones and paddles in the water, I sit on the beach watching the ocean wash in and out, making the most of the fresh sea air. What better way to wake up on a Sunday?

Other walks near Brighton:

The Stanmer Park estate in the South Downs (about 20 minutes outside of Brighton) covers approximately 5,000 acres with a pretty village, manor house, farm, church and café.

Find out more and find inspiration on Visit Brighton’s website, here.

Images: Adam Bronkhorst

Words: Ellen Tout

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