Whilst Chanctonbury Ring and Cissbury Ring are well-known landmarks in West Sussex, Lancing Ring is less often spoken about. But for any nature lover, walker, or fan of the South Downs, it’s worth a visit.
Lancing Ring and the past
Lancing Ring is a 23.5-hectare nature reserve, to the north of Lancing and within the South Downs National Park. It’s named after a ring of beeches planted in the late 18th century and inspired by the nearby Cissbury Ring. Sadly, many of the original trees were lost in the great storm of 1987 storm but new trees have been planted since.
Like many strategic points on the South Downs, it is thought that the area at Lancing Ring was probably an Iron Age shrine and a Romano-Celtic temple. Evidence of an Anglo-Saxon burial ground has been found to the east of Lancing Ring and the path from here to Cissbury would have been an important one for hundreds, even thousands, of years. Unsurprisingly, there was a windmill here too, although alas, no more.
The nature reserve
These days, Lancing Ring is a mixture of shrubs, woodland, and wildflower meadows, as well as having a dew pond. There is lots of local wildlife including early purple orchids and pyramidal orchids, adders, wood anemones, butterflies, and of course, birds such as kestrels, chiffchaffs and spotted flycatchers. The Friends of Lancing Ring host guided flower walks, and butterfly and bird walks, with various specialist speakers. With little woodland paths, and tantalising glimpses of the sea, you might just want to linger here and explore.
Walking at Lancing Ring in West Sussex
You are not on the South Downs Way here but there is lots of great walking to be had. To be honest, with my map in hand (Ordnance Explorer 122), I set off to do a hearty walk which was to take me in a triangle around the hill at Coombes and past the 11th century church in the hamlet of Coombes. It didn’t happen mainly because I lost all sense of direction but it didn’t matter because the views were so fantastic and the blackberries were both good and abundant.
You get to Lancing Ring, via Mill Road in North Lancing. A word or warning, your Sat Nav will probably not take you to the car park which is under the bar and up the track (and not brilliantly signed). There is also parking at Halewick Lane. From Mill Road, head directly north and you’ll pick up the main bridlepath. If you follow that north west you can walk all the way to Cissbury Ring. It’s only about 4 km and involves fabulous views left and right towards the coast and offshore wind farm, and inland. Alternatively, walk for just 2 km and then turn right to do the walk that I didn’t manage. After about 2.5 km you reach Coombes where you turn right again and head back to the start point. This walk is just shy of 7 km and takes you via Cow Bottom and Lancing Hill. Again, there are views a plenty.
If you’ve enjoyed this post about Lancing Ring in West Sussex, you may also like: