Ditchling Beacon is located in South Downs, northeast of Brighton, in Sussex. This 1.45 km gains 143 meters (469 feet) in elevation and has a maximum gradient of 16%.
Beware that this is a very busy road. There is no shoulder and many blind turns that drivers zip through -- but, hey, it’s #22 on Simon Warren’s list so we gotta check ‘er off! Our views are blocked by trees for the majority of the climb, although some of the tree formations are pretty cool!
We did not encounter any cyclists over this brief climb. Though short, it has teeth to it at an average grade of 10%! The climb itself is quite rolling, with many false flats along the way to interrupt your rhythm. These flats are generally only about 100m each, so by the time you’re feeling like you may catch your breath, you’re already in a new ascent (RoadCyclingUK.com).
After cycling through the forest for the first 1.3 km of the climb we break into the open for the last 200 meters and have nice panoramic views by our finish.
Steepest ½ kilometer begins at 900 meters (11.9%)
Ditchling Beacon hosted the British National Hill Climb Championships in 1995, the year Stuart Dangerfield won the first of his three consecutive championships. This climb has been featured in many cycling events, including the annual London to Brighton bike ride, where it’s tackled by amateur cyclists (RoadCyclingUK.com calls Ditchling Beacon the “sting in the tail” for this event). In 1994 Ditchling Beacon was included in the route of the Tour de France as it made it’s way to Brighton (CyclingUphill.com). In 2014, the climb was included in the Tour of Britain, and the Strava leaderboard is dominated by pro riders. Lars Petter Nordhaug is the current KOM, having completed his ascent in 3:57 with an average speed of 22.3 km per hour (RoadCyclingUK.com).
The Ditchling Beacon climb is in the eastern section of South Downs National Park, England’s newest national park (becoming fully operational in 2011). South Downs covers over 1,600 square kilometers (almost 630 square miles), and stretches from Winchester to Eastbourne, through Hampshire, West Sussesx, and East Sussex counties. Included in this national park are the chalk hills of the South Downs, and the heavily wooded sandstone and clay hills of western Weald (South Downs National Park). When you visit this area, expect to find a bit of everything: rolling hills, market towns, ancient woodland, picture perfect villages, traditional country pubs, vineyards, and so much more (South Downs National Park).