Height isn’t everything. In the South Downs, our writer heads up a class of hills named for their prominence – and selects other choice peaks to explore
‘Well,” I thought, as I stood by a concrete trig point on a summit, looking down over vast tracts of verdant Sussex Weald, “this feels like a proper hill.” And so it should, given that 248-metre Ditchling Beacon is the highest point in East Sussex and the third-highest in the South Downs. But what’s of even greater significance is that this hill is a Marilyn – a designation that says more about a peak than height alone.
The term was coined by cartographer and keen outdoorsman Alan Dawson. “I was bagging hills in the Lake District,” he told me from his home near Loch Tay. “I came off 3,000ft Skiddaw and went downhill to bag Sale How, at 2,000ft, and thought, ‘Well [going downhill to bag a summit], that’s a bit daft.’”