Paragliding in Sussex: where to launch?

Aug 13, 2013 BY Paul McWilliams

One of the most quintessentially English counties in the country, Sussex is also one of the most beautiful. Home to some stunning scenery, the bohemian seaside twin city of Brighton and Hove, and quaint villages, Sussex is understandably popular with tourists from London and all over the UK. However, Sussex is also home to the South Downs, which means that paragliding in Sussex is also a major attraction.

Paragliding in Sussex flickr image by PaulTKeith

Go for a stroll in the Downs or around the edge of charming county towns like Lewes and you’ll see the sky dotted with paragliders serenely floating across the sky. With some top launch spots and excellent gliding schools across the county, it’s little wonder that paragliding in Sussex is fast earning a reputation as some of the best in the UK. Plus, the sea views aren’t so bad either.

So you want to go paragliding in Sussex, but where should you launch? Well here are a few spots, but check out access as some are under the stewardship of the Southern Hang Gliding Club and are only open to club members. If you are a visiting pilot, you can get day membership before you fly the sites.

Devil’s Dyke

Situated in the hills just outside Brighton, legend has it that this vast gorge in the hills was caused by the Devil trying to breach the Downs, which prevent the rest of England being flooded by the sea. It’s a nice story but a load of nonsense.

However, the steep drop off from the Downs into the flat countryside of Sussex is a top launching spot, if a little busy. Head up here on a sunny day, drink in the views, and you’ll be hard pushed to find a better spot in the whole of the UK. There is even a pub at the top for spectators.

Paragliding in Sussex flickr image by Bods

Ditchling Beacon

A little further along the downs, on the same northern slope, Ditchling Beacon is another stunning local beauty spot and the highest point in East Sussex. Launching from here isn’t as easy because of the way the land is divided up, but once you get up you can soar for hours above the green and pleasant land of the countryside below. Paragliding in Sussex doesn’t get much better than this.

Mount Caburn

One of the highest isolated peaks in the South Downs, this huge hill is situated just outside Lewes and sits 480 ft above its surroundings. It’s a bit of a climb but when you’re at the top you have incredible south facing views and a glimpse of the sea towards Newhaven.

There is a busy road down below but you should have few problems avoiding it. Once you’re done, head into historic Lewes, enjoy a pint of the local tipple Harvey’s and find out why this town has a history of non-conformism and political agitation. 

Paragliding in Sussex flickr image by Bods

Newhaven Cliffs

Although most of the launching spots in Sussex are understandably in the downs, an increasing number of paragliders have been spotted launching from Newhaven Cliffs near Newhaven Fort. It’s a great spot, with some amazing sea views (as you might expect) and some nice gliding across the cliff tops reaching as far as Brighton Marina if the conditions are right.

West Sussex

There are some great spots found out in West Sussex too. The Downs might not be as big or as spectacular in this part of the county but with great sea views and landscapes around Steyning it’s a great place for gliding. However, you do need to be very careful with Shoreham Airport not too far away and the A27 running along the south side of the county.

There are plenty of other popular spots for paragliding in Sussex. Such as Firle Beacon which due to easy access is very popular, Beachy Head which has stunning views but very restricted landings. Other popular launch sites include Bo Peep, Truleigh and the alluring sounding High and Over. There are plenty of companies offering tandem flights and clubs you can join if you wish to paraglide in Sussex on a regular basis.


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