This lovely circular walk around the Slindon estate celebrates the best of autumn.
The ancient downland estate at Slindon is managed by the National Trust and encompasses woodland, farmland, parkland and the village of Slindon. From the folly on Nore Hill, walkers can drink in spectacular views towards the coast and in Slindon Wood can stroll alongside the medieval Pale (deer park boundary), discover an ancient druid grove of beech trees and see the remnants of a raised beach (because in the early Stone Age, Slindon was a seaside settlement!).
The beech woods here provide a vital habitat for dormice, great spotted woodpeckers and the silver-washed Fritillary butterfly.
Where to refuel
• The Spur (01243 814216, thespurslindon.co.uk, BN18 0NE) on the A29, which offers traditional pub food, sandwiches, a few veggie dishes and a children’s menu
• The George at Eartham (01243 814340, thegeorgeeartham.com, PO18 0LT), which serves delicious food, including Sunday roasts and vegetarian options.
• Distance: 5m (8km) – 1.5-2 hours terrain: some gentle up and down; stony and woodland paths
• Where to park: In the National Trust Park Lane car park south of Slindon, just off the A27-A29 junction.
1. Walk towards the road from the car park and take the path right just before you reach the road. The way soon divides – maintain direction on the wide path between trees.
3. Ignore paths leading left. The main wide path now curves around to the right.
4. Take the path on your left at a sign saying Slindon Estate. This loops back, taking you downhill through woodland. At the bottom of the hill take the narrow path on your right. You will soon reach a wider path – head right here.
5. Where the way divides, maintain direction on the left-hand path. At the road, head left. Walk along the edge of the road for a short distance and then take the path on your right at the National Trust Slindon Estate sign. This narrow path leads between hedgerows for half a mile.
6. Ignore the path leading right. Then as you reach woodland, ignore the path leading left into a field. Head straight on into the woods. When the path divides, take the left way upslope.
7. At the top of the hill, another path joins from the right. Bear slightly right, continuing along the path that these two converging paths run into.
8. Ignore the path heading right. Almost immediately there is a wide straight path at a signpost. Head right here.
9. At the small signpost, the main path veers slightly left (there are often felled trees to the right here). The main path now gradually goes downhill past fields and opens up to coastal views. Look out for a folly on the right, and then the path meanders downhill between fields.
10. On reaching a lane by a barn, head left, walking along the lane for half a mile.
11. After the double gates and the farm, turn right onto the road. Almost immediately, cross the road and head uphill upon the narrow path through trees. (Keep dogs on leads because there is another road approaching). Bear left on the road and then walk past the college on the right, into Slindon village.
12. To visit Slindon Pumpkins (open from mid October into November), take a detour here, heading straight on. Otherwise, turn right into Church Hill. Walk downhill and take the path immediately after the pond on the right, just before the footpath sign and gate. The correct path runs past a notice board, alongside the pond, into woodland. At the Slindon Estate sign, bear left. Follow the path back to the car.
© Chichester Self Catering, Gayle Palmer 2016