The Devils Dyke, a hill on the Sussex Downs some five miles from Brighton, was in the Victorian and Edwardian era a place of funfairs and an amazing, scary ski lift over the valley. There was a full-scale railway too, climbing up from Brighton (you can see its route marked by a twisting line of trees in the panorama below). Apparently by the time it closed just before the Second World War it was little used as people preferred the char-a-banc’s and later coaches that took them straight to the summit rather than having to climb 200ft from the railway station.
The Dyke is a beautiful place in the evening, after most of the people have gone, and to sit in the camper van and have a picnic as the sun goes down is a blissful, simple pleasure. Flying a kite there is an invigorating and elemental experience and you need some skill to keep it in the air, buffeted by the winds that blow from the sea. There is a pub too, the beer is mighty fine and the food has improved since a new owner took over a little while back.
We love the fact you can park up and look at the view at the Devils Dyke. We heard that the National Trust, who own the site, were thinking of stopping this, hiding the cars behind the Dyke Hotel, and we hope they think again. We have noticed how many older folks, physically beyond he rigours of a hearty walk on the windswept chalk paths park their cars and look at the view. In winter, when the cold air makes our ears transparent, it’s one our ‘good things to do’. Go up to the Dyke in the camper van and look at the twinkling lights of the villages below and the headlamps of the cars as they snake their way from London to Brighton. Parked cars don’t harm the enjoyment of the landscape and park-and-look-at-the-view-from-the-Dyke gives us and so many people huge enjoyment.
The Devils Dyke is also site of personal memories, nostalgia and longing and we will tell you the story in post soon.
All images copyright TheBigForest except postcard and photograph from the wonderful regency society collection (X). And if you want to find out about the history of the Dyke railway, this site (X) brings it to life.