Distance: 7.5 km. Elevation: 171 m. Difficulty: Medium
On a cold, crisp winter morning, this Duncton walk was gorgeous but it would be equally stunning in spring or autumn. You need Ordnance Survey Explorer 10. The start point and car park is the Duncton Hill viewpoint which is halfway up (or down depending on which way you are travelling) Duncton Hill on the side of the A285. It’s well worth taking a moment or two to enjoy the view from here because it’s stunning and there’s a dial that points out the main landmarks such as Blackdown, Seaford College, Leith Hill, St Michael’s and Petworth.
Duncton Hill to the South Downs Way
From the car park, you have a choice for this Duncton walk. You can walk a short distance along and up the road until just at the entrance to the chalk pit, you pick up the West Sussex Literary Trail. Alternatively, there is a footpath through the woods from the car park, which avoids the road and takes you around the north side of the chalk pit. This was our preference and you follow the path through the woods with tempting views of the valley below through the trees.
If you’re lucky, you’ll also see deer and we saw a herd of about 20. The sharp drop to your right as you walk is Woolavington Down and that is Seaford College and Blackdown in the distance (when not shrouded in mist). Follow the path until it breaks free of the woods and then takes you across fields until it meets the South Downs Way.
Cross Dyke into Eastdean Wood
You should have met the South Downs Way at Cross Dyke (and Tegleaze Farm) about 2.25 km into your walk and you go straight across rather than join the South Downs Way. The footpath you want is a Restricted Byway which is OK for walkers but not bikes. You just follow the path in a straight line. First, you pass fields but then you enter the most magnificent beech wood. As far as we could find out, this is Eastdean wood, owned by the Goodwood Estate and managed by the Forestry Commission. It’s so well-maintained and full of wildlife.
We met no one as we walked apart from more deer and this woodland is magical. After about 1.75 km, you reach a crossroads and you turn left as you start to double back towards the South Downs Way. You are still in Eastdean Wood but you will know the exact moment you leave the Forestry Commission section as the nature of the woods changes. Just carry on in a straight line in and out of woods. Heath Hanger is to your right but you can’t really see it.
You arrive back at the South Downs Way with incredible views ahead. This walk is worth it if just for this. The West Sussex Literary Trail is ahead and will take you back to the car park. Alternatively, you can see the woodland route to the car park and rejoin that.
When planning this walk, my walking companion wanted a woodland walk, whilst I wanted hills and views. This walk ticked all the boxes and was fabulous. Definitely one for Boxing Day or the holidays, and I’ll be back to explore this area again soon.
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