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“London-by-the-Sea” is the nickname often given to the trendy, bohemian city of Brighton and Hove – making it sound like an unlikely base for scenic countryside bliss. However, walks around Brighton and Hove offer some of the very best trails in the south east of England. With the South Downs on its doorstep and a gorgeous coastline, this is a city with bucket loads to offer.
Your hikes around Brighton and Hove could take you into the South Downs National Park, which sprawls in every direction from the city’s borders. The region is characterised by chalk grassland, green rolling hills and a rich variety of wildlife and habitats.
Brighton and Hove is famous for its beautiful sunsets and there is nowhere better to view these than from a coastal ramble. You can stroll down the quaint beachfront or explore some of the most dramatic cliffs in Britain – the magnificent Seven Sisters – to the east.
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Some of the best hiking trails around Brighton and Hove explore the higher hills of the nearby Downs, such as Ditchling Beacon. At 814 feet (248 m), it is the third highest point in the South Downs and offers spectacular views south to the sea, over the national park to the west and east to the High Weald.
Closer by, you can discover castle ruins, windmills and the remnants of Neolithic agriculture. Keep an eye out for the lynchets, terraces caused by Iron Age ploughing on the verdant grasslands. Sitting high on the Downs are the flour windmills of Jack and Jill, just a short ramble away above the village of Clayton.
Some of the most dramatic hikes around Brighton and Hove explore the iconic Devil’s Dyke, where the South Downs escarpment drops steeply away, creating a panorama that was described by 19th century landscape artist John Constable as “the grandest view in the World.” A mile long and 330 feet (100 m) deep, the dyke is the longest, deepest and widest dry valley in the UK. Legend tells that it was gouged out by the devil to flood the local folk as punishment for converting to Christianity. In reality, it was formed by vast water run-off from the higher Downs during the last Ice Age.
Once a sleepy fishing village, the urbanisation of the city may have changed the seafront, but its charm is still intact. Explorations of the coast rank amongst the best walks around Brighton and Hove. The many miles of shingle beaches are a glorious place to enjoy the sea breeze. Picture beautiful sunsets and colourful beach huts and you get an idea of the idyllic scenes waiting to be discovered. Meanwhile, the vibrant café culture of the city is never far away.
Further out to the east rise the Seven Sisters, Britain’s most beautiful chalk sea cliffs. There are numerous excellent trails that explore this magnificent landscape. The views from the cliff tops are staggering but make sure you stay at least five metres from the edge due to the possibility of landslides.
Explore more of England: Browse the best Hikes in other regions.