Devil’s Dyke

Devil’s Dyke

We were on our annual ritual trip to Brighton for a half-marathon event and had booked ourselves into a hotel in Lewes, as we sometimes do. We’d come down on Friday night so we could run a new parkrun, at Hove. It was a nice run along the seafront – it was dead flat and paved, and because there wasn’t a lot of wind and the sun was out, it was fairly warm.

The warmth and stillness continued into the afternoon and we decided we’d make use of that by going for a walk somewhere scenic. The chosen place was the rather impressive Devil’s Dyke, which is a very deep v-shaped valley on the South Downs just outside Brighton. The reason it’s such a big valley is, apparently, solifluction, or put another way, melting snow saturates the little bit of unfrozen soil on top of the frozen chalk, causing it to run off like a gloopy mess down the nearest hill. I’m sure a proper geologist would describe it differently, but I like to think I understand the principles, especially seeing as I just read them on wikipedia. Despite the rumours, there is little actual evidence that the valley was formed by anything from the evil realms. It is a common human trait to assign responsibility to the Devil for anything that’s a bit quirky. Personally, I look at it and think to myself that if I was religiously minded, surely you would assign such beauty to your God rather than pass it off as evil. The Downs are really lovely, and this is one of the best bits I’ve been to.

There’s a National Trust car park on the top of the hill, and it was pretty much full by the time we arrived at around midday. Shows what can happen when the sun comes out. It was really quite warm. The Gardner parking karma worked as usual, and we found ourselves in a nice parking spot from which, had we been older and more infirm, we could quite happily have sat there all afternoon enjoying the view. It’s a big hill. With steep sides.

We felt sort of obliged to go for a walk down into the Devil’s Dyke itself, so after a bit of farting about we headed off in a generally downhill direction, following a broad bridleway and stopping occasionally to grab a geocache. Most of the ones down here were multis and needed information to be collected in the field. The ones that weren’t multis were field puzzles. Some of them were field puzzles in a box which, when solved, told you where the real box was. So the caching was a bit slow. They were entertaining and challenging, and quite well put together, but we weren’t exactly getting around the loop very quickly.

Back at the plot, when we got to the very bottom of the hill, the girls decided they’d had enough of the caching. Izzy needed feeding and I don’t think Kas wanted to expend too much energy before the following day’s race. So they decided to walk back up the valley to the pub and/or ice cream van at the car park, while I continued on around the bottom to do the rest of the caches. To be honest, once I left them the remaining ones of the series turned into relatively easy traditional caches with no field puzzle, and I started finding them more quickly, apart form the ones I couldn’t find at all. So I met the girls back at the top of the hill after 90 minutes or so, having walked back up the mother of all steep hills to get to the top. Whoever decided to call these hills “Downs” obviously started at the top, not the bottom. The Downs are chalk uplands. Which makes lots of sense, really. Not!

Anyway, we reunited and had a swift drink in the accompanying pub before retiring back to Lewes for an evening meal at a local Italian.

The caches I found on the day were: