long man's walking guide to Sussex

A Compendium of Sussex Walks

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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.



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)

cup of teabustrainhistoric attraction

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.

Pagham Harbour Walk

Sidlesham Quay - geograph.org.uk - 501560

Pagham Harbour and Sidlesham Quay (PDF, West Sussex County Council)

  • 3.0km (1.9 miles) return trip (Shorter circuit – 1.1km/0.7 miles)
  • Easy Countryside Trial – one of a series of routes that may be enjoyed by all including wheelchair users, families with pushchairs – note it is a bit bumpy near Sidlesham Quay
  • Crab and Lobster pub (accessible to wheelchairs) in Sidlesham

disabled access signbuscup of tea

This walk is a short circular easy access trail from the Pagham Harbour Local Nature Reserve visitor centre. The area is one of the few undeveloped stretches of the Sussex coast, and an internationally important wetland site for wildlife with interest in all seasons for flowering plants, butterflies, summer breeding birds and the winter visiting seabirds. This walk is a little inland from the sea.

Part of the walk follows the track of the old light railway known as the ‘Selsey Tram’, which ran between Chichester and Selsey until 1935. The walk takes you past an accessible bird hide with good views all along the margins of the harbour as far as Sidlesham Quay, an attractive little mill hamlet at the top of Pagham Harbour.

Highdown Trail

Highdown Hill

Highdown Trail: History, Myth and Beauty (PDF, Worthing Heritage Trails) and The Highdown and Highdown Hill (PDF, iFootpath)

  • choice of short 2km walk on the Downs north of Ferring on the edge of Worthing (Worthing Heritage Trails) or longer 2.5 mile walk (iFootpath walk)
  • The Highdown Tea Rooms and Pub and Highdown Gardens on route
  • mainly grass, occasional flint and chalk footpath. Moderate climb to the summit for shorter walk but hard going for wheelchair users and pushchairs. Second walk has a few steady climbs and a couple of kissing gates.

trainbuscup of tea

A short but interesting walk up to Highdown Hill’s fine views. Although a relatively small hill, its unique position as the only hill on the Sussex coastal plain gives it commanding views along the coast, from Beachy Head in the east, to the Isle of Wight in the west. It is said to be the traditional burial place of the kings of Sussex, and the remains of a Saxon cemetery as well as a Roman bath house have been found on the hill.

Highdown Gardens contain a collection of rare plants and trees, collectively deemed a National Collection. The gardens, set in a former chalk pit, is owned and maintained by Worthing Borough Council with admission being free.

Brightling, Dudwell Valley, Bateman’s: Forests and Follies

"Mad Jack" Fuller's tomb

Forests and Follies (PDF, Fancy Free Walks)

  • 9 and a half miles (15k)
  • moderate walking – long twisting trails where you need to be watchful, nettles in summer.
  • visit Bateman’s, Jacobean house and former home of Rudyard Kipling with attractive garden
  • Swan Inn at Woods Corner (start/finish), The Wheel in Burwash Weald, tea room at Bateman’s
  • accessible by bus

buscup of teahistoric attraction

This walk is a great adventure in the High Weald with long woodland trails, sudden views and unexpected encounters. See much celebrated follies, including an observatory, temple and pyramid, built by eccentric landowner “Mad Jack” Fuller.

Mad Jack (1757-1834) was a Brightling squire addicted to building follies.



This walk provides a short optional excursion to a famous country house, Bateman’s, former home of Rudyard Kipling. Bateman’s is a 17th-century house located in Burwash, East Sussex, England. Author Rudyard Kipling lived in Bateman’s from 1902 to his death in 1936, and his wife left the house to the National Trust on her death in 1939.

Weirwood Bluebell Railway Walk

Stone Farm Rocks crag - geograph.org.uk - 1672314

Weirwood Bluebell Railway Walk (Bluebell Railway Walks)

The Weirwood Walk (Gravetye Manor, PDF)

  • Choice of two slightly different walks – one of 4 miles (Bluebell Railway Walks) and the other of 5 miles (Gravetye Manor Walk)
  • can be muddy after wet weather
  • take a train ride on the  Bluebell Railway and stay/dine in style at Gravetye Manor

trainbuscup of tea

These varied circular walks take in Stone Farm Rocks, Weirwood Reservoir Nature Reserve and the steam trains of the Bluebell Railway, which runs for 11 miles (17.7 km). The railway operates between Sheffield Park and East Grinstead, with intermediate stations at Horsted Keynes & Kingscote, allowing you to combine the walk with a trip on the railway. And of course, you’ll see bluebells along the way during the spring.

Weir Wood Reservoir was created in the mid-1950s by damming the River Medway. It is used for sailing and fishing, and known for its range of resident and migrant birds such as great crested grebes and herons.

Stone Farm Rocks are a series of sandstone crags, some as high as 8 metres (26 ft) high , and is owned by the British Mountaineering Council who run it for the benefit of climbers. 

See Bluebell Railway Walks for more opportunities to combine walking and taking a trip on the railway.

If you feel like treating yourself, stay at Michelin starred Gravetye Manor overnight or for a meal or afternoon tea. The manor was built in 1598 and is known for its gardens.


Three Circular Walks in Angmering

Bluebells at Angmering estate - geograph.org.uk - 1277660

Angmering Walks (PDF)

  • Choice of 3 walks – Copse Walk: 4 and 3/4 miles, Parkland Walk: 5 and 1/2 miles, Woodland Walk: 7 miles
  • mostly flat, sometimes muddy
  • pub along the way – The Woodman Arms
  • accessible by bus

buscup of tea

These three walks explore the fields, woodland and paddocks around the Angmering Estate in the South Downs National Park, north of Angmering village and the A27. The private Angmering Park Estate dates back to at least 1279 and is well known for its fantastic display of bluebells in the spring. It even hosts an annual 10k bluebell trail run (now sold out for 2016 ).   The third of these walks – the Woodland Walk – is the best for bluebells.

These walks are well described and illustrated, but the details may be  little dated, not that much changes too fast on the estate.

For a longer walk (11/12 miles), try the  circular walk walk between Burpham and Angmering Forest (Fancy Free Walks, PDF)

For more woodland and Bluebell walks nearby, see the World’s End Patching Walks.

The Woodland Trust has some good photos of the Angmering Park Estate on its website.

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