long man's walking guide to Sussex

A Compendium of Sussex Walks

Hassocks, Clayton and Hurstpierpoint

Hassocks, Clayton, Hurstpierpoint, Hassocks (PDF, Visit Hassocks)

Butchers Wood Hassocks

  • 5 miles circular walk
  • pub and cafes in Hassocks and Hurstpierpoint (small detour to High Street – try the New Inn), Jack and Jill at Clayton
  • accessible by bus and train

trainbuscup of tea

Easy but much of the route is likely to be muddy, particularly during the winter months, as it is mainly through low-lying farmland, where there may be animals grazing.

I would recommend diverting through Butchers Wood shortly after the start of the walk rather than sticking to the main path, especially during the spring for bluebells and wild flowers (but again often muddy).

Along the way, you will pass the castellated turrets above the entrance to Clayton Tunnel, the longest tunnel on the London to Brighton line at over 1 mile long.

With fine views towards Wolstonbury Hill and the Downs, you will also pass Danny House. In the Great Hall of this magnificent (but private) Elizabethan mansion, the terms for the armistice at the end of the First World War were drawn up and Lloyd George and his Cabinet held many meetings here.

This is Walk 4 of the ‘Circular Walks Around Hassocks’ series of walks by the Hassocks Community Partnership. See also Butcher’s Wood Walk.

 

Chichester Marina to Dell Quay Walk

Crown and Anchor Dell Quay

Crown and Anchor, Dell Quay

Chichester Marina to Dell Quay Walk (PDF, Chichester Conservancy)

cup of teabus

A fine circular walk from Chichester Marina through fields  with Chichester cathedral in the distance, before heading down to the harbour at Dell Quay to return towards the Marina  along the waterside with fine harbour views, before finally also taking in Chichester canal.

The Marina was opened in 1966, can berth over 1000 boats and is the second largest marina in the country. The canal runs from the city of Chichester down to the Harbour and opened in 1823 as part of a larger canal scheme to carry cargo between London and Portsmouth.

Halfway, the 16th century Crown & Anchor at Dell Quay is an excellent harbour side pub whilst the stylish Boat House Cafe at Chichester Marina offers good value fayre.

 

 

 

Arlington and Abbot’s Wood

Arlington & Abbot’s Wood (Fancy Free Walks, PDF)

  • 14k, 9 miles
  • Good traditional country pubs along the way – The Plough, Upper Dicker; Yew Tree Inn, Arlington; The Old Oak Inn, Arlington.
  • Village shop and cafe in Upper Dicker
  • Passes medieval Michelham Priory with its water filled moat (though perhaps visit another day!)
  • Also passes Arlington Stadium which hosts banger racing and speedway which may disturb the peace somewhat every now and then! (Eastbourne Speedway)
  • Berwick Station is just a little south of the walk’s starting point

historic attractiontrainbuscup of teacycle

A varied walk with fine views towards the Downs. There are excellent bluebell woods along the way at Abbots Wood and the less well known Bramble Grove, and you also have the chance to visit (and pay to enter) the Arlington Bluebell Walk. Arlington Reservoir at the start and end, is a large nature reserve where you can view waterfowl and other wildlife. Most of the walk is through what was the vast dominion by Michelham Priory, which dates back to 1229 and is surrounded by England’s longest water-filled moat.

Shorter waymarked walks in Abbots wood – Abbots Amble and Oak Walk  (Forestry Commission).

For cycle rides in the area, see Off the Cuckoo Trail, which includes a 18 mile cycle ride taking in Arlington and Abbot’s Wood.

Around Bignor’s Roman Remains

Bignor Roman Villa

Around Bignor’s Roman Remains (AA)

  • 5.3 miles (8.5km) – about 2 hrs
  • Downland and woodland tracks and paths, some road, with one steep climb
  • chance to visit Bignor Roman Villa and cafe (seasonal)
  • White Horse pub at Sutton
  • infrequent buses to Bignor Roman Villa – check Villa website.

cup of teabushistoric attraction

Situated beneath the downs and discovered by a ploughman in 1811, Bignor Roman Villa features various fine mosaics, depicting scenes of gladiators and representations of Venus and Medusa, and are housed under thatched Georgian buildings built to protect them.

Bignor Hill from Bignor Roman Villa

Bignor Hill from Bignor Roman Villa

Running across Bignor Hill, where the walk begins, is Stane Street, a Roman road constructed about 70ad to connect the port of Chichester with London. From the 737ft hill there are very fine views across the rural Sussex landscape. The walk descends down to the village of Sutton where you pass a picturesque wealden house. You then have the chance to visit the Roman Villa, and perhaps pop into the White Hart in preparation for the climb through woodland back up to the start.

For a longer walk 10 mile walk, try Bignor and the South Downs (Fancy Free Walks, PDF)

Kingley Vale Walks

Kingley Vale (Emsworth Walks);  Stoughton to Kingley Vale (Octagon Walks, PDF); Kingley Vale and the Downland Churches (Fancy Free Walks, PDF)

Kingley Vale

Kingley Vale

  • Kingley Vale Emsworth Walk (or Nature Trail walk from West Stoke) 3 miles;  Houghton to Kingley Vale walk, 4 miles; Kingley Vale and Downland Churches, 13 miles or 6 and a half miles.
  • See also Kingley Vale National Nature Reserve Trail Leaflet
  • steep climb on some walks
  • Hare and Hounds pub if you choose one of the walks starting in/passing through Stoughton. Barley Mow, Walderton on Downland Churches walk.

buscup of tea

Kingley Vale is a spooky and spectacular hillside to the north west of Chichester, the highlight being a  rare yew forest which covers much of its southern slopes.

The age and history of the yew trees at Kingley Vale was researched extensively by ecologist Sir Arthur Tansley, who lobbied hard for years for something to be done for the protection of this special habitat., and finally in 1952, Kingley Vale was named as one of the first National Nature Reserves in the country. A number of the trees are at least 500 years old, possibly much older. Sir Arthur’s contribution is marked by a memorial stone near the top of Bow Hill.

Within the National Nature Reserve there is a discreetly signposted nature trail organised by English Nature, offering great views, both to the north and the south.

Bow Hill, which forms part of Kingley Vale, is topped by The Devils Humps, four Bronze Age barrows.

There are all sorts of stories of strange comings and goings on Kingley Vale, with stories of ghostly marching legions of Romans and a band of Vikings whose warlike spirits still maraud in the woodland.

The Stoughton to Kingley Vale walk is a steep climb rewarded with spectacular views of South Coast and spire of Chichester Cathedral. It passes the top of the Nature Reserve taking in the Devil’s Humps.

 

 

Pulborough – The History Walk

Stopham Bridge

Pulborough: The History Walk (Pulborough Community Partnership, PDF)

  • 4.8-6.5 km circular walk (3-4 miles). Allow 2.5-3.5 hours.
  • White Hart at Stopham Bridge, Oddfellows Arms near start/end in Pulborough
  • Terrain: easy, can be slippery in places when wet, no stiles

bustraincup of tea

This is a circular walk through more than 2000 years of local history with some very scenic views of the River Arun and the South Downs. Highlights include St Botolph’s Church at Hardham with its medieval wall paintings and Old Stopham Bridge, a medieval bridge with seven arches was built in 1309 to provide a secure crossing of the river for the road from Winchester to Canterbury. The picturesque White Hart is right beside the bridge. You will also walk along the route of the old Roman road, Stane Street.

St Botolph’s Church has one the earliest nearly complete series of wall paintings in the whole country, and is one of the Lewes Group of churches which includes churches with other outstanding wall paintings at Clayton and Coombes (see Sussex Churches).

Other Pulborough walks in this series include The Woodland Walk (PDF) and The Brooks Walk (PDF).

For an alternative walk around Stopham, see the Stopham Circular (Evening Argus, 4.5 miles)

 

 

Rye Harbour Walks

Rye Harbour

Three Circular Walks (PDF) or Your Guide to Rye Harbour Nature Reserve (Sussex Wildlife Trust, PDF)

  • three walks of 1 to 3 hours, 2 miles, 4.5 miles, 5.5 miles
  • see How Rye Repelled the Enemy for alternative description of walk two, 4.5 miles (AA)
  • Mostly flat
  • Camber Castle is passed on walk three but see also Camber Castle Walk.
  • Inkerman Arms, William the Conqueror and Bisun’s Bite Cafe at Rye Harbour
  • toilets at Rye Harbour
  • accessible by bus
  • a private tarmac road runs through the southern part of the reserve and the four bird-watching hides here are suitable for most wheelchairs. The northern part of the nature reserve, Castle Farm, is served by shingle and grassy paths.

buscup of teachurch castledisabled access sign

These walks offer wide skies, lonely seas and lagoonsRye Harbour Nature Reserve is large coastal nature reserve with shingle beaches, sandy shores at low tide, grassland, saltmarsh and reedbeds bordering lakes and pools hosting a vast array of wildlife. It is excellent for birdwatching with a number of birdwatching hides.

Camber Castle is within the Nature Reserve and was built in 1539 by Henry VIII to defend the threat of being invaded by France and Spain, and is one of a series of forts along the south coast. The castle, once on the edge of the sea, is now two miles from the coast. It has taken around 500 years for the land to fill up with silt, and this has helped form the land that make up the nature reserve. Camber Castle is open to the public on the first Saturday of the month from July to September at 2pm for a guided tour (check website first)

Disabled and Buggy Access: The northern route is possible with more robust wheelchairs and all-terrain buggies but is challenging. It is not a hard surface. The southern section, including the route from Rye Harbour to the sea and along the coast, is on a good tarmac surface. Several of the birdwatching hides are accessible.

Devil’s Dyke Walks

Devil's Dyke

Devil’s Dyke Walking Trails (National Trust), The Devil’s Dyke (Fancy Free Walks, PDF), Devil’s Dyke and the World’s Greatest View (AA), Devil’s Dyke Histories and Mysteries  Walks (NT, PDF)

  • a choice of walks in and around around Devil’s Dyke
  • rolling chalk downland, field paths – some trails have a steep climb  or descent and some have several stiles
  • good choice of pubs depending on walk taken –  Royal Oak, Poynings, Shepherd & Dog, Fulking, Devil’s Dyke pub
  • Devil’s Dyke can be busy but you can find peace and quiet quickly
  • accessible by the special Brighton ‘Breeze up to the Downs‘ bus (start at Devil’s Dyke)

buscup of tea

Excellent walks with fine views and a chance to walk through the Devil’s Dyke, a spectacular, steep-sided downland combe or cleft 91m deep and 800m long. Legend has it that the Devil was attempting to drown the parishioners of the Sussex Weald by gouging out a channel to the sea. Halfway through his sinister task, an old lady lit a candle and the Devil, mistaking the flame for the rising sun, did a runner, leaving his work unfinished. The truth is more prosaic – the Dyke was carved through ridges of rolling rock by meltwater during the last ice age leaving a fine and spectacular example of a dry chalk valley.

View from Devils Dyke

View from devil’s Dyke towards Fulking

The pretty village of Fulking with the  perfectly positioned Shepherd & Dog pub, is tucked away at the foot of the Downs.  A steep haul leads you back to the top of the South Downs escarpment and the South Downs Way. There are stunning views northwards across the Weald and south across rolling downland landscape to Brighton.

 

 

Charleston Walks

Downland View near Charleston

Downland view near Charleston

Charleston – A Walking Map (PDF)

  • choice of 3 walks, 2km – 8.5 km.
  • walks originate from Charleston,  the Sussex home of the Bloomsbury Group
  • some stiles, mainly flat
  • good downland pubs – Cricketers at Berwick, Ram Inn at Firle and Rose Cottage Inn at Alciston, Beanstalk Tea Gardens near Firle
  • accessible by bus (check the Charleston website and plan ahead!)

cup of teabushistoric attraction

Charleston was the home and country meeting place of the Bloomsbury Group, the country home of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant. The house and garden is open to the public and there is an exhibition gallery showing a mix of contemporary and historical shows of fine and decorative art and a small tea room.

These three walks from Charleston offer far reaching views over the Sussex Weald and towards the nearby Downland ridge whilst visiting some sites associated with the Bloomsbury group.

The first walk offers a short ramble around Charleston whilst the second heads to the attractive downland village of Firle,  passing Firle Place on the way. The longer third walk heads to Berwick where the church has murals painted by Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant and  Quentin Bell.

 

Rottingdean in the Footsteps of Kipling

Downs at Balsdean

Downs at Balsdean

Rottingdean in the Footsteps of Kipling and Company (Rottingdean Conservation Society, PDF).

  • 3 miles.
  • Mostly easy with moderate inclines.
  • Pubs and tea rooms in Rottingdean.
  • Accessible by bus

buscup of tea

Rottingdean is a picturesque seaside village that became fashionable in the nineteenth century among artists, writers and politicians and it still retains its artsy feel today.  Towards the end of the 19th century it offered seclusion and inspiration for many artists, writers and public figures, the most famous of which was Rudyard Kipling, who wrote ‘The Just So Stories’ whilst living there.

Don’t miss a visit to the lovely Kipling Gardens and The Grange Museum, Art gallery and Tea Garden. For an informative guide to the village, see the Rottingdean Village Leaflet (PDF).

The walk guides you through the principle sights associated with Kipling and also takes you up to the Downs above the village, including a visit to the ‘lost village of Balsdean’. For more information on the lost village and the Rottingdean downland area, see also the Downs on your Doorstep East Brighton guide by Brighton and Hove Council.

 

 

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