A Compendium of Sussex Walks

Category: Chichester Walks

Chichester District occupies the western part of West Sussex, and is divided by the South Downs escarpment, with the northern part being in the Weald, composed of a mixture of sandstone ridges and low lying clays known as the Western Weald. To the south the downs give way to a flat coastal plain and the large natural inlet of Chichester Harbour, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This all makes for some good varied walk.

The district is predominantly rural. Other than the attractive small city of Chichester itself, there are only a few small towns – Petworth, Midhurst and Selsey. Sights worth seeing include Chichester Cathedral, the ruins of the Tudor mansion Cowdray House, the ‘glorious’ Goodwood Estate and Racecourse, the 17th Century Petworth House, and the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum with its collection of traditional buildings, rescued and re-located in a downland setting.

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)

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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.

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.

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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.



Petworth House and Park Walk

Petworth House

Petworth House and Park Ancient Trees Walk (National Trust)

  • 4 miles.
  • Moderate walking.
  • Chance to visit Petworth House.
  • Restaurant and coffee shop at Petworth House.
  • accessible by bus.

cup of teabushistoric attraction

A circular walk exploring the ancient trees that dominate the skyline of Petworth Park, featuring some of the oldest and largest trees in the country. The gnarled and twisted bark of these magnificent ancient specimens make natural and amazing works of art.

Nestled in the South Downs National Park, Petworth House is a large impressive mansion surrounded by a 700 acre deer park landscaped by Capability Brown, and houses a renowned art collection.

Whilst not on the walk itself, the attractive market town of Petworth is a short diversion away, literally just the other side of Petworth House, and has a range of independent shops, pubs and restaurants.

Fishbourne & Bosham Walks

Fishbourne and Bosham Walk (Emsworth Walks)

Two Villages and a Ferry (PDF, Chichester Conservancy)

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The shorter 5 mile walk provides the chance to visit both Fishbourne and the historic village of Bosham, while enjoying the scenery and reed beds at the top of Chichester Harbour.  Bosham is an attractive harbour side village with pubs and some boutique-style shops. Its greatest claim to fame is that this is where King Canute reportedly tried to hold back the tide. This walk passes nearby Fishbourne Roman Palace, the remains of a large Roman home built in the 1st century AD, around thirty years after the Roman conquest of Britain. The Palace is especially known for its impressive mosaic floors,

The 10 mile walk starts in Bosham, and heads out on the same path as the first walk towards Fishbourne. Cutting across the peninsula, the route passes through reedbeds to a traditionally managed meadow. Heading down the Fishbourne Channel, the route takes in the tiny village of Dell Quay and passes through two marinas before arriving at Itchenor for the ferry crossing (seasonal) across the channel before returning to Bosham.

West Wittering Beach & East Head

West Wittering Walk (Chichester Harbour Conservancy, PDF)

East Head West Wittering

  • 4 miles, 6k, flat
  • Old House at Home pub in West Wittering, cafe (check opening times) at the beach.
  • buses from Chichester

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A 6km walk along the wonderfully sandy beach of West Wittering and around the sand dunes of East Head with far-reaching views across Chichester Harbour to the Isle of Wight. East Head is the sand dune spit situated at the eastern side of the entrance to Chichester Harbour. It is a stunning example of a natural and dynamic coastal feature which is of great interest to environmentalists and ecologists because of its fragile nature.

East Head is on tidal sands. The walk is most enjoyable at low tide when large expanses of sand are revealed. When the tide is 4.6m or higher it is possible to walk through the dunes instead.

Although this walk is good at anytime of the year,  be warned that the beach can be extremely busy on good summer days, as can the traffic to and from the beach, including West Wittering village itself .

Centurion Way Railway Path

Cycle path sculpture at Fishbourne - geograph.org.uk - 48319
Centurion Way (PDF, South Downs National Park, full route) or Centurion Way Chichester to Lavant (PDF, part route) (West Sussex County Council)

  • 2 and a half miles one way from Chichester to Lavant or 5 mile return
  • 2.8 miles extra to walk on to West Dean making the whole walk just over 5 miles one way
  • Mostly flat, tarmacked or with compacted stone
  • pubs at Lavant, West Dean, and in Chichester, a mile from the route’s start.
  • accessible by bus and train – extra 1 mile walk to/from railway station

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The Centurion Way is a route for cyclists and walkers between Chichester and West Dean. The route is along the old Chichester to Midhurst Railway which opened in 1881 to improve access to London. The railway’s decline started with the withdrawal of passenger services in 1935 and the line north of Lavant was closed completely in 1957.The section between Lavant and Chichester was used for the transportation of sugar beet and gravel. However, this ceased in 1991 and the tracks were removed in 1993. Two years later, the first stretch of the Centurion Way opened,the name suggested by a local schoolboy and is based on the fact that the path crosses the course of a Roman road. There are sculptures along the route relating to local history.

Just beyond the walk  are  West Dean Gardens and a little further on, the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum.