Ditchling Beacon


    A classic road cycling route in England, often overlooked for it’s neighbour Box Hill, but this is a truly great climb

London has great cycling routes, trust us – we live for climbs and this road cycling route near London is awesome. Ditchling Beacon is too overlooked in our view… pardon the pun. It’s a far better climb than Box Hill in every aspect and deserves more respect. That’s why we’ve included it in our classic climbs list.

Setting off from Balcombe is also a sensible move, as you avoid the mad traffic of London and can simply take the train to Balcombe and  ride. Afterwards, this quaint village in the hills welcomes you withit’s very own pub for a meal – a classic day cycling  in the English countryside and Sussex, cycling Ditchling Beacon.

Banner image by Leanne Phillips, Unsplash

Route Information

Stats  76.48 km  944 metres

OS Map:  

Refreshments & Where to Stay Half Moon Inn at Balcombe is superb for food and nearby there are ample places to stay. Click the link at the bottom of this page.

The Sussex Hills are a beautiful area on the edge of London and a great place to stay and take a cycling break – seriously. Staying near Balcombe, there are easy trains into London from the small station or nearby Crawley.


Rolling hills with steep climbs thrown in and tight twisting lanes as you ride to the sea, this cycling route has everything, including the classic road climb of Ditchling Beacon.


  1. From the train station at Balcombe turn left onto London Road for a very short distance and then turn left onto the very narrow Rocks Lane, signed beside the red brick house. This narrow road leads to Rowhill Lane.
  2. Cycle along this narrow road and underneath the train bridge as it falls and climbs, with high hedges, trees and meadows and the strange London sound of birds and countryside. Yes, you could take the main London Road, but why!
  3. The lane crosses a small river and joins into Cherry Lane after 3km, throwing you onto London Road at 3.7km.
  4. Follow the B2036 south to the village of Cuckfiel, then turning left at the mini roundabout, signed B2184 ‘Haywards Heath’. At roundabouts, simply follow signs to Ditchling.
  5. Various junctions and roads lead to Ditchling village at 19km and it’s time to climb.
  6. Passing through Ditchling, a small white posted road sign on the left  shows you a junction and narrow lane to Ditchling Beacon – get ready to climb.
  7. As the road sweeps up left, it also begins to climb for 2.4km and twist its way up the hillside to the South Downs. The seemingly relentless climb eventually ends, with an area at the top to rest and take in the spectacular views back towards London and south to the sea.
  8. Now it’s a simple case of 9km downhill to Brighton and the sea.
  9. Leave Brighton on the A270 towards Lewes and Lewes Castle, and take in some history before we hit the quiet country lanes again.
  10. At Lewes take the A275 to Ofham 48.2km, continuing through for 1km and then turning off left onto Beechwood Lane just before Cooksbridge,  towards East Chiltington.
  11. Follow quiet lanes for 8km to Wivelsfield Green, skirting the village on the left, on South Road and then Green Road, and then taking the road on the right, ‘Slugwash Lane’- yes, Slug Wash! Follow this for 3.5km to Lewes Road, turning right and then left towards ‘Wakehurst Place’ on the B2111 road.
  12. At Lindfield a junction is reached and you will see shops and a pharmacy opposite – turn left here and skirt around the village pond (seen on the right), then turning right at traffic lights onto Hickmans Lane, then left into Sunte Avenue and ending up at the roundabout at Gander Hill.
  13. Turn right to Ardingly and stay on this road until Ardingly, some 4.5km away.
  14. At Ardingly, turn left onto Street Lane and cycle along to Balcombe. This narrow lane can be tricky to locate. It is directly on the left by a small cottage which is painted white on it’s uppper walls, just before the meain road junction.
  15. Crossing the ponds, you’re now onto Balcombe Lane and can look forward to a meal at the Half Moon.

This route shows you the fun of quiet country lanes close to London and a classic road cycling route in Sussex. Now all that you have to do is plane the next trip.

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