The weather is brisk and the seagulls have moved out to the farms and fields for feeding. The dew on the grass shimmers beneath a gliding, rising mist. As you step onto the South Downs, you can almost feel the Christmas pudding from the day before settling in your kneecaps; the roast potatoes rounding out your hips; the smell of mulled wine still sitting in the air.


But all is well. In your heart you feel the warmth of Christmas keeping you in good spirits. Your mind becomes clear, and you start thinking… you are ready for a walk.

There are lots of great options for winter walking in and around Brighton. For Boxing Day, I would recommend a hike from Falmer to Lewes via Ditchling Beacon.

Early morning winter view over hills
The South Downs – which includes Ditchling Beacon (pictured) – is the newest of the UK’s 15 National Parks, receiving its protected status on 31 March 2010

Falmer to Lewes walk

9.7 miles/15.7km | 5 hours | moderate

1. Picturesque parkland

The route starts at Falmer train station beside the AMEX stadium, then heads north through glorious Stammer Park.

2. Through rising fields

After a couple of miles, cross Ditchling Road, a popular route for cyclists, before passing through winter-bare wheat fields to reach the Ditchling Beacon summit. The contorted crevices of the Downs can be seen to the east and west.

3. Ridgeline ramble

From here it is a straight path east to Lewes, past trig points, National Trust plaques and grazing sheep. At roughly 9.7 miles (15.7km), with steady elevations and only one sustained incline on your approach to the Beacon, it should take you no longer than four or five hours to complete and is suitable for most skill levels. If this route sounds a bit too long, you can shorten the day by skipping Ditchling Beacon and joining the ridge at Street Hill or Black Cap before dropping into Lewes.

For kids and adults alike, the walk presents an opportunity to connect with nature and collect thoughts after what is often a busy month. It is a time for you to recuperate, and a chance to end the year putting your health and wellness in the forefront of your mind.


Falmer to Lewes map

Falmer to Lewes walking route and map

Falmer to Lewes walking route and map


Kelly Smith is the Sussex leader of UK walking group Black Girls Hike.