Stargazing at Devil’s Dyke

This astronomic itinerary is built around daytime foraging, wine tasting and baking experiences, with a healthy helping of cosy pubs and country walks. The nights are dedicated to stargazing alongside amateur astronomers at Devil’s Dyke, the UK’s longest, deepest and widest ‘dry’ valley. It’s also a star-spangled Dark Sky Discovery Site. Starry nights, good company and good food. What could be better?

By night

Devil’s Dyke was either dug by the devil to drown the folks of the Weald or formed during the last ice age more than 10,000 years ago – believe what you will! But the devil theory along with the remains of an Iron Age hill fort and a Victorian funfair make stargazing at Devil’s Dyke even more atmospheric. Devil’s Dyke is easy to access, with a car park and The Devil’s Dyke pub to warm up in afterwards! Light pollution from the pub means the far end of the car park is the best place for stargazing if you don’t want to venture beyond the level car park.

Want to get talking to local amateur astronomers and have a go with a telescope? Check out Worthing Astronomers, a friendly local astronomy group that believes astronomy experiences are best when they’re hands-on, practical and shared. The group runs several community outreach events each year. Anyone can come along and many members are happy to let you view the night sky through their telescopes. Lots of people you’ll meet here are also keen astrophotographers.

South Downs Birling Gap
South Downs Birling Gap

By day

If you like what you’ve seen on your stargazing exploits so far and want to get into amateur astronomy, pop into Sussex Astronomy Centre in Worthing. They stock a wide range of telescopes, accessories, guides and binoculars – handy if you’re also into birdwatching. And if you already own a telescope, they can help you fine-tune it with various upgrades. Everyone’s welcome, from beginners to experienced astronomers.

Devil’s Dyke is a beautiful spot to visit by daylight too. The area is laced with walking trails and the views across the South Downs National Park are immense. Try the Fulking archaeology walk from The Devil’s Dyke pub for sea views and an introduction to the area’s fascinating past. You’ll stroll past the remains of a deserted medieval village, a Bronze Age bowl barrow and a motte and bailey castle.

To really get a flavour of the South Downs countryside, complement your stargazing with some foraging. Rewilding Us provide seasonal foraging courses, coastal foraging courses and mushroom foraging courses. Learn where to find and how to use wild plants, mushrooms and seafood found in the diverse and rich habitats around our county!

At Ridgeview on the northern edge of the South Downs National Park, you can tour the vineyard that has produced so many award-winning sparkling wines and take in the views that give the place its name. Join a wine tasting experience and, if you like what you taste (we think you will!), pick up a bottle from the vineyard shop to pop open when you next spot a shooting star. You can dine here, too.

Countryside view of Devils Dyke on a cloudy day
©National Trust Images/John Miller - Devils Dyke Walking Trails
Ridgeview vineyard landscape
Ridgeview Vineyard

Stay the night

About an hour’s walk along the South Downs Way from Devil’s Dyke is YHA Truleigh Hill, a modern hostel in timeless countryside. Truleigh Hill is even earmarked to become a nature reserve. There’s a wide range of accommodation, from bunk beds and bell tents to land pods and safari tents. Camping facilities are available from March to October

There are more glamping options at Foot of the Downs, a working family farm at the heart of the South Downs. The views are spectacular. The shepherd’s hut and luxury camping pods come with private fire pit areas, which make for cosy star viewing.

Foodies should book a self-catering stay at The Artisan Bakehouse in Steyning. As well as a shepherd’s hut, the 16th-century farmhouse has two adjoining cottages surrounded by acres of wildlife-filled gardens and woodland. You can help yourselves to produce from the veg patch and fruit trees and to eggs from the chickens. Take your foodie experience up a notch or two and join one of the Artisan Bread Making Workshops or Chocolate Masterclasses.

YHA Truleigh Hill
YHA Truleigh Hill
Christmas wreath making workshop with the various wreath items laid out ready the workshop
The Artisan Bakehouse


Country pubs don’t get much better than The Shepherd & Dog, in a row of converted cottages in Fulking. It’s got cosy nooks and crannies, delicious food and an excellent beer garden – plus it’s perfectly positioned for walks along Devil’s Dyke.

Beach Deli, a takeaway in Shoreham-by-Sea, serves everything from New York Deli sandwiches to salad tubs, but it’s best known for its homemade Scotch eggs and sausage rolls – perfect stargazing snacks – so take a stroll along the beach and pick up a few for your astronomy escapades later.

Plot your next stargazing adventure over an afternoon cream tea at The Steyning Tea Rooms. This place is super cute, with vintage china and crocheted tea cosies, bunting and cakes piled high on the counter.

Shepherd and Dog
Shepherd and Dog Fulking
Scones at Steyning Tea Rooms
Steyning Tea Rooms

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