West Sussex offers an assortment to get outside and get those steps up. Whether you walk to be immersed in nature and soak up wonderful views, to be revived by fresh air and improve your mental health, or maybe you walk to adventure and explore new places. Whatever your motivation, let The Great Sussex Way guide you to some of the best walking routes in Sussex encompassing a variety of terrain and scenery.
The South Downs Way
The South Downs Way is a 160km (or 100 mile) National Trail which runs from Winchester in Hampshire to Eastbourne in Sussex. It is one of 15 National Trails in England and Wales and was the first bridleway National Trail in England and is the only National Trail to lie entirely within a National Park. The trail runs right across the Chichester District, offering great walking opportunities for those choosing to tackle the entire length or just enjoy it in smaller stages.
As well as some outstanding views, the South Downs Way reveals some of the finest historical sites including the great iron age hill forts of Old Winchester Hill, Chanctonbury Ring or Devils Dyke. There are numerous ancient burial sites and cross dykes as well as more recent sites such as Uppark House or WWII defensive sites. Nature lovers will appreciate the extraordinary range of diverse habitats which the trail covers, from ancient woodlands, river valleys, chalk grassland to mixed farmland and coastal habitats.
Following some of the most popular trails close to Chichester, Midhurst and Petworth reveals some astonishing views – taking time to appreciate the vistas is the perfect excuse for a breather after a steep ascent. For stunning views to the coast and the English channel beyond can be found at the top of The Trundle, which overlooks Goodwood Racecourse, the ever-popular Kingley Vale, home to an ancient forest of yew trees, and the Halnaker Windmill Trail which follows a section of the Roman Road to London.
Walking routes for all
Flatter landscapes can be found on the Centurion Way route where you’ll encounter the Chichester Road Gang sculptures or strolls along the Chichester Canal towpath accompanied by the sights and sounds of the resident wildlife – maybe even a Kingfisher if you’re lucky! Explore the mile and a half of the almost complete Roman city walls in Chichester – it’s a great opportunity to admire the variety of architecture here while imagining what life might have been like 2000 years ago.
Selsey’s location on the tip of the Manhood Peninsula means that walking in Selsey and the surrounding areas is generally flat, however you’ll still find a variety of terrain to explore, from shore-side strolls or observing the bird life at the RSPB Nature Reserves of Pagham Harbour and Medmerry, to exploring the town and its heritage.
The RSPB nature reserves are a huge draw for bird watchers and nature lovers and are internationally important wetland sites for wildlife where you can spot a huge variety of waders and wildfowl as well as birds of prey. Explore the trails in one or both, which are linked by footpaths, and stay on for the sunsets which are stunning from here.
Downloadable trail guides allow you to walk the route of the Selsey tram, which connected the town to Chichester from 1896 and 1935, explore the railway carriage homes which arrived in the town during the 1920s and are still here today. The notable residents and historical events of Selsey are connected in a ‘Blue Plaque’ heritage walk with sites including Teddy Donaldson, the highly decorated WW2 pilot who broke the world air-speed record in 1946.