five ridiculously scenic walks on your doorstep

School’s out and, if forecasters are right, we’re set to have a glorious summer ahead of us. Here at BOTI, we’ve rounded up some of our favourite walks and green spaces in and around Brighton. Best of all, they are totally FREE!

baby at ouse valley viaduct

Ouse Valley Viaduct and Ardingly reservoir
The name may not necessarily ring a bell, but the chances are you will have seen pictures of this magnificent optical illusion (you’ve got to be up close to appreciate it) and never realised it was right on your doorstep even if you’ve been over it on the London-Brighton train. And if Only a short 40-minute car journey from the centre of Brighton, Ouse Valley Viaduct is (in our humble view) one of the best places in Sussex to get your ‘gram on

You have a few options of getting there. If you want to make a day of it, we recommend parking at the Ardingly Reservoir car park and from there, it’s about an hour’s walk each way. However, be warned, half of the challenge is in finding this hidden gem. Surprisingly, it’s not referenced on any of the information boards or local routes. Take a left before the Ardingly Activity Centre and this will put you on the right path.

Alternatively, if you want to head straight to the viaduct itself (and cheat the walk) you can park right opposite, providing there’s space, obviously. And, if you’re coming by train, you can get off at Balcombe and walk – it takes about 35 minutes.

When you arrive there, you’ll understand the hype and wonder why you’ve never been before. Be prepared to wait your turn to get the perfect shot.

BOTI tip: Unleash your inner Bear Grylls and take an old-fashioned map. The area is a dead zone for phone signal and 4G.

Getting there: Ardingly Reservoir, College Road, Ardingly, RH17 6SQ; Ouse Valley Viaduct, Borde Hill Lane, Balcombe, RH17 6QP

cuckmere haven cliffs

Hope Gap and Cuckmere Haven
What could be better than a walk towards those iconic white cliffs on a summer’s day? The beauty of this walk is that you can make it as long or as short as you want. If you have little ones, the beach at Hope Gap is a secluded cove, which is great for rock-pooling and picnicking (just make sure you don’t get caught out by the tide). Otherwise, you can wander down to Cuckmere Haven and get some amazing views of the Seven Sisters and the meandering Cuckmere River

BOTI tip: A cool drink at The Cuckmere Inn is always a good idea.

Getting there: Hope Gap car park: Chyngton Lane North, Seaford, BN25 4JQ. Alternatively, you can hop on the bus and get off at the Seven Sisters Country Park and it’s about an hour’s scenic stroll from there. The 12, 12A, 12X or 13X all go that way.

Undercliff Walk
Come rain or shine, we love this walk. Away from the hustle and bustle of Brighton promenade, the Undercliff Walk offers a more tranquil route along the coast. The gentle flat path makes it perfect for wheelchair users, dog walkers or families with pushchairs. During high tide and stormy weather, we love watching the waves crash over the sea wall and on hot summer days, the quiet shingle beaches make it a perfect reading spot. 

BOTI tip: Keep your eyes peeled for the graffiti and local tagging along this route. It always makes us chuckle.

Getting there:For a shorter version, start by the Smuggler’s fish and chip shop on the high street – 36 High Street, Rottingdean, BN2 7HR (or if you want to go for the long haul, start from Brighton Marina behind the Asda car park). Plenty of buses go from Brighton to Rottingdean, including the 12 and the 14.

bluebells in stanmer park

Great Wood, Stanmer Park
Your Instagram feed may have been inundated with pictures of the bluebells earlier this year, but the Great Wood makes a cracking walk all year round. If you’re in the mood for a gentle ramble, the majority of the trails are though shaded woodlands, making it perfect for a hot sunny day.  

BOTI tip: This is a great spot for dog walkers or parents with adventurous little ones.

Getting there: Park your car along Ditchling Road or catch the number 77 bus.

brighton and preston crematorium

Brighton and Preston Cemetery
You might be thinking this is a bit of a macabre choice, but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. The entrance is right off Lewes Road and within a few minutes you can be nestled in a Victorian burial ground. This tranquil retreat is a great spot for a pensive walk alone and you’d be surprised how much space there is, considering its central location. Get lost in the labyrinth of paths as you stumble across interesting monuments and vaults. We love this walk on a windy day, as it’s largely sheltered from the coast. Sadly, dogs aren’t allowed in the cemetery, but it’s full of wildlife and is an oasis of cam and tranquillity.

BOTI tip: It’s a great walk on a windy day as it’s largely sheltered from the coast or if you need a break from other people for a while as you’ll often have the place to yourself.

Getting there: Woodvale Crematorium, Lewes Road, Brighton, BN2 3QB. There’s also an entrance on Hartington Road (241 Hartington Road, BN2 3PA). It’s about a 30-minute walk from the town centre.

By Danielle Baird

Photo credits: Tom Hanslien (Saltdean beach huts); Brownie Bear, Flickr (Woodvale cemetery); Mark Wordy, Flickr (Undercliff walk)