Sussex walk with views from Blackcap
PUBLISHED: 15:54 01 December 2015 | UPDATED: 10:49 05 October 2017
This circular walk encompasses woodland paths and spectacular downland views from Blackcap
The tall beacon brazier on Mount Harry was erected in 2002. Known as the Lewes Beacon, it is a reminder of the beacon that stood here from the 16th century (or earlier) to warn of danger. The beacon keeper would have stuffed the holder with straw, twigs and logs and set it alight as quickly as possible. This was either in response to seeing the next beacon lit along the Downs (south east atop Mount Caburn and Firle or west at Ditchling) or because he had spotted French soldiers invading from the coast. As one beacon was lit, so the next one along sparked into a boule of orange flames, until the tops of the Downs were dotted with these warning lights, to which the military would respond. It is thought that in ancient times, the beacons were used as a way of marking key Pagan dates (such as the Solstices), as well as a system of warning. In modern times, the beacon has been lit to mark national events.
For a pub lunch - The Blacksmiths Arms
In Offham at the start and end of the walk. It does good food. Choose from hearty pub dishes with a contemporary twist or sandwiches. Dogs are allowed in the bar.
01273 472971; theblacksmithsarms-offham.co.uk, BN7 3QD
• Location: Offham, near Lewes, East Sussex
• Distance: 5.5m (8.8k) – 2½ hrs to walk
• Terrain: Grass, chalk and woodland tracks which can be muddy; a few hills
• Where to park: In the Blacksmiths Arms pub car park (if you plan to eat there afterwards), otherwise park along The Drove, alongside Offham church
1 From the Blacksmiths Arms pub, head south along the main road (A275). Where the pavement ends after houses take the footpath into woodland on your right. The way immediately divides – head right. A wide chalk path leads uphill with fields on your right.
2 As you reach woodland, ignore the path that heads right through a gate and maintain direction. Soon after, many paths meet – here head straight on through the metal gate. The path runs alongside fields on your left.
3 Where the woodland ends on the right, the way divides – head left and go through the wooden gate. Continue straight on along the edge of the field, with fencing on your right, and then go through the gate in the corner of the field. The path swings right and leads you between fields.
4 At the signpost head right along the wide track that runs alongside horse jumps and gallops on your left for ½ mile.
5 Turn left along the narrow path that leads through hedgerow, just before the National Trust Blackcap sign.
6 Go through the gate on your right and head straight on across the field towards a gate. Go through the gate and follow the grassy path diagonally downhill to another gate in the corner of the field.
7 Go through the gate and walk straight on along the edge of the field, before heading right at the signpost. Follow the narrow chalk path downhill past trees and an open grassy area. At the bottom of the hill, head right. Ignore the way left and carry straight on along the narrow path into woodland that eventually takes you through a gate.
8 Passing through the woodland glade, ignore the way that leads right; stay on your path, which heads gently left and leads you past old hazel trees. Eventually the wide track bends sharply left – leave it here and walk straight on along the grassier, muddier path. This leads you through more woodland for ½ mile, gradually narrowing and leading you uphill.
9 Go through the gate and head straight on up and across the grassy field towards a signpost and another gate. At the signpost head right. Immediately, the way divides – keep left, walking with hawthorn and oaks on your left.
10 After the summit of Blackcap, the way divides. Take the left hand way, heading downhill towards the beacon brazier in the distance. At the signpost at the bottom of the slope, ignore paths left and carry straight on, walking uphill between scrub and trees.
11 Veer right just before the beacon brazier, so that you can walk right up to it. After the beacon, carry straight on downhill towards a gate.
12 Go through the gate and follow the path towards trees. The path curves right, under the pylon line and then leads you between woodland (on your left) and fields (on your right) for ½ mile.
13 At the corner of the field, at the signpost, head left into woods and then almost immediately turn right. Walk through the woodland, eventually passing through a gate. Ignore the path that leads right and maintain direction, before going through another gate on your right. Here turn left and follow the chalk path downhill back to the car.