The best dog-friendly walks in Sussex
5 minute read
1. Friston Forest, Litlington
Type: there and back
Distance: 2.5 km (1.6 miles)
Start: Friston Forest main car park BN20 0AT
Along the coastal stretch of the South Downs National Park, between Seaford and Eastbourne, Friston Forest is a firm favourite with Sussex pups. It’s looked after by Forestry England, so there’s plenty of (paid) parking and some facilities, including toilets, picnic benches and barbecues. The White Horse lookout and Cuckmere view are the main two trails, both very easy to follow. The latter winds through the beech woods of the South Downs Way and through Friston village, where there’s a cute little pond for hot paws. From here, scamper up the huge natural staircase and over the stile (dogs may need to be carried) and enjoy a picnic overlooking the Cuckmere River as it snakes down to the sea. On your return, swing by for a swift pint in the garden of the Plough and Harrow pub in Litlington.
2. Ditchling Beacon, Ditchling
Distance: 6.4 km (4 miles)
Start: Ditchling Beacon car park BN6 8XG National Trust
At 248m above sea level, Ditchling Beacon is the highest peak in East Sussex. By road, it’s a beast of a hill to climb (or cycle up, like many do each weekend) but it also promises some of the most breath-taking views in the south. Park in the pay-and-display car park at the top, hop through the gate and follow the wide path west, which joins part of the South Downs Way. It’s a well-worn and popular path, so easy to follow, with plenty of trees to sniff. The exposed hilltop has panoramic views down to the sea as you loop south around the top of the Downs and follow the path back to the car park.
Alternatively, you can follow one of the woodland trails down the side of the Beacon, sometimes through the clouds, to Ditchling village and reward yourself with a pint of Long Man ale in The Bull before bracing yourself for the hefty climb back up.verlooking the Cuckmere River as it snakes down to the sea. On your return, swing by for a swift pint in the garden of the Plough and Harrow pub in Litlington.
3. Devil's Dyke, near Brighton
Distance: 4.8 km (3 miles)
Start: Devil’s Dyke car park
Devil’s Dyke is by far one of the most popular dog walks in East Sussex. Local legend says it’s where Satan attempted to drown the parishioners of the Sussex Weald by carving out a channel down to the sea. Luckily, the devil’s work was scuppered by an old lady who lit a candle, which he thought was the sun was rising, and fled before he could finish his dastardly deed. There are several circular walks you can take around the grassy chasm – all well-signposted and dog friendly and all with magnificent views over the Sussex countryside. On a bright day, watch the hang gliders take off from the Dyke and soar like rainbow-coloured pterodactyls down to the sea. Reward yourselves with a pint at the Devil’s Dyke Inn, which warmly welcomes muddy paws with water bowls and doggy treats.
4. Cissbury Ring, near Worthing
Distance: 4.8 km (3 miles)
Start: Storrington Rise car park BN14 0HT
Owned by the National Trust, Cissbury Ring is regarded as one of the prettiest dog walks in Sussex, especially in spring when the rare butterflies are in season. Perched high on the South Downs, Cissbury Ring covers a massive 65 acres and is the largest Iron Age hill fort in Sussex. There’s a self-guided three-mile loop walk around the top, which promises far-reaching views across the Downs and on a clear day, out as far as the Isle of Wight and Brighton. On the return leg, it passes the sun-soaked striped vineyards of the Wiston Estate. There are a couple of kissing gates, which can be easily managed by dogs, and several signs explaining the history of the hill fort and flint mines. From here, it’s easy to wander down to Findon village to sample a local ale in the cosy Black Horse Inn.
5. Halnaker Windmill, near Chichester
Distance: 8 km (5 miles)
Start: Boxgrove village hall car park PO18 0EE
A few miles north of Chichester, the tiny village of Halnaker is a charming spot which welcomes good dogs and their people. Like most walks along this stretch, it falls within the boundary of the South Downs National Park. This circular stroll up to the Halnaker Windmill passes through Halnaker Hollow, a naturally formed tunnel of trees – a favourite on Instagram – which was once the ancient Roman road between London to Chichester. Now largely the domain of dogs and ramblers, the wide and leafy footpath climbs gently up Halnaker Hill and winds along to the 18th-century mill, which was originally built for the Duke of Richmond. The walk is well signposted and skirts the vineyards of the Tinwood Estate and the remains of the 12th century Boxgrove Abbey. While the hill can be steep in parts, it’s worth it for the views, which sweep across the English Channel on a fine day.
6. Pooh Bridge walk, Ashdown Forest
Distance: 5 km (3 miles)
Start: The Anchor Inn TN7 4AG
Part of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Ashdown Forest has dozens of brilliant dog-friendly walks. Of course, it’s best known as Hundred Acre Wood, the home of Winnie the Pooh and friends. There are numerous Pooh-themed walks on offer, most well-signposted, but our favourite is the walk to Pooh Bridge. Starting from the Anchor Inn in Hartfield, it crosses fields, bushy heathland and bridleways winding through woodland until you see a signpost for Pooh Bridge. After a competitive game of Pooh sticks, it’s a gentle scamper along the woodland trails back to the Anchor Inn for a bowl of water and a Bonio.