Yesterday morning, as it was a bank holiday, I got up reasonably early (though not as early as I probably should have) and drove slightly North of Brighton to a point along the South Downs Way. I’d previously done a map recce and found a handy little car park at Ditchling Beacon, right on the South Downs Way, and since it is only 20 minutes drive from my flat it seemed ideal. It’s really nice to be able to get onto a decent trail without having to go miles, worry about public transport, or otherwise disrupt my day too much.
Ditchling Beacon is a nice little National Trust car park with very cheap parking – free if you are a member or otherwise £2.20 for the whole day. It’s not huge, however, and although it was quiet when I arrived (see the photos above) it was almost full by the time I returned to my car. There’s not really anywhere else nearby to park and there was signage specifically telling people not to park on the road, so I can imagine it does get busy, especially in the summer. It’s a great location from which to run, hike, mountain bike or road bike (not on the SDW, obviously, but on the proper roads leading from the car park) so it attracts a lot of people.
The South Downs Way is pretty varied, and this bit was different to the areas I’d run before (nearer the opposite end, at Winchester) being more open and gently rolling. Initially I thought it was a bit too flat to be really challenging but in fact of course Ditchling Beacon is a high point, as the name suggests, and I was going steadily downhill for most of the outward leg. I only really realised that when I turned around, and had a fairly punchy uphill run back to the car.
Anyway, there are fabulous views from the Beacon, and for much of the early part of the run, with the South Downs all around you and the sea visible off to the South. I particularly enjoyed a random little pond at one point, which made for a very pretty photograph that I fortunately managed to take just seconds before an excitable dog leapt into view.
Overall the run, at least for the fairly short distance I went, isn’t quite as challenging as some of the other bits of the SDW I’ve run but it is extremely picturesque, rolling enough to be interesting, and not particularly tricky underfoot so it can easily enough be run in trainers and without having to worry too much about watching your footing.
Anyway, with such a nice quick drive home, I was back before 10am and ready for a well-deserved breakfast in one of my many local cafes. Job done.