Sussex villages are perhaps known for ‘…their flint properties & use of chalk readily found underfoot in the South Downs which traverses it’s borders’
With this in mind may we introduce you to three great ways to explore particular favourites of ours…
Bosham (the ‘h’ is silent!) must be one of the prettiest villages in West Sussex & has been drawn, painted & photographed on many occasions. Did you know King Canute could not turn back the tide here & the Bayeux Tapestry shows him going to pray in the local church.
There is a delightful stroll of just under 2 miles, suitable for children at all times of the year. Park & start the stroll, if the tide allows, around Shore Road & return aiming for the Holy Trinity Church.
Head towards the Quay Meadow, where Canute attempted to, unsuccessfully, turn back the tide. Walk on past the Bosham Mill, a fine building, used as the HQ for the local sailing club.
Close by, Bosham Quay, includes a tile hung, timbered building called ‘The Raptackle’. In the plague year of 1665, the citizens of Bosham saved Chichester from starvation when the city was sealed off. Apparently they put fish in buckets that could be hauled within the city wall. Payment was made in a bucket of seawater to prevent the spread of infection!
Steyning – standing to the north of the gap in the Sussex Downs, carved by the River Adur, was once a major port in Saxon times. But after the Norman Conquest, the river silted up. A little to the west, the small iron age fort of Chanctonbury Ring is marked by a detached group of beech trees standing on the crest of the Downs.
There’s a lovely 3 mile stroll, suitable for children – Steyning has several pubs & cafes in the village. Whilst there make sure to walk along Church street and the High Street with several of the finest buildings in the area.
Lookout for the Old Market House – you can’t miss the attractive Bell Tower & at various times has been a Town Hall, Police & Fire Station. Just off Mouse Lane, there are fine examples of Workhouse cottages, with well known 15th century ‘Wealden style’ timber frame buildings.
In particular look out for the Parish Church of Saint Andrew which is reputedly the oldest building in the village & one of the best examples of Norman architecture in the country. There is an enterprising Village Museum by the library for lots of local information. Whilst there if time permits include a small yet worthwhile detour to the Bramber Castle ruins, now in the hands of the National Trust, providing a series of view points through the trees to the Downs & across the Adur Valley.
Fernhurst – described elsewhere as ‘…few areas provide such a diversity of walks – uphill & down dale, through woods & fields & beside streams…’ (Davey & Ouin) this was the place where we were based when we were first married & brought up our two children – set between the soaring hills that are nearby Marley Heights & Black Down.
Parking at the central Crossfield carpark continue towards Vann Road turning left. After a short distance turn left into Hawksfold Lane East & follow this country lane to the gate & then retrace your tracks, taking in the view. One of the recurring pleasures of this stroll is the sight of familiar features – to the south towards Telegraph Hill or Markey Heights to the north.
Continue in a westerly direction & cross the road bridge turning right up into Vann Common – at this point you are literally coming to the foot of Marley Heights & for another time there are so many walks for you & the family that pan out from this point.
Follow this gently rising country lane reaching Vanlands & it’s pond to maybe stop to feed the ducks there! From here continue for a short distance & then cross in to Nappers Wood & skirt the local Primary School.
Watch out for the busy A286 which you need to cross to continue along Hog’s Hill before reaching The Red Lion PH Village Green …& maybe a hot-air balloon if you’re lucky! Return along Church Road passing St Margaret’s Church, towards the crossroads, the car park & the start.
Finally, may we also pass on these words of wisdom…
‘…leave the wild flowers to grow where others may enjoy them and above all – to show our gratitude to the private landowners over whose ground we walk by – leaving all as we find it, no worse for our transit…’ (Davey & Ouin)
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