If you fancy a walk, the South Downs never disappoint and this easy 4 km Sompting South Downs circular walk has “blow your socks off” views.
To get to the start, either head into Steyning and take Newham Lane (which joins Borstal Road) or just take Borstal Road. They are both narrow and steep but bring you out on the top of the South Downs. You will pass the distinctive Steyning Bowl to your left and then a short distance later you’ll see some parking and a large hill ahead. You can also approach the parking from the A27 to the south by taking the Titch Hill turn at Sompting and passing the church and Sompting Abbotts school.
Views to Worthing and Seaford
As you get out of the car, you’ll see the South Downs Way and some pigs off to the east and a path straight ahead to the big hill. The hill is Steep Down and there is a narrow path that leads to the base. When you reach the gate, go through and straight up. It’s steep but relatively short and then it’s through another gate to the triangulation point (number 149) at the top. It’s worth stopping here for a while because you can see so much. Lancing Chapel is clearly visible as is Lancing Ring (the clump of trees straight ahead), Shoreham and Worthing, and is that Seaford Head in the far distance? You can also make out the major landmarks of Brighton.
To your right are two areas of Cross Dyke which, although they don’t look like much, are actually scheduled monuments. They are linear earthworks made up of ditches that run parallel down a steep slope. They date back to the Middle Bronze Age (or earlier) and are thought to be either boundary marks, droveways or defensive areas.
An alternative route to Coombes
Keep going straight ahead and when you meet a crossroads and the bottom of the hill, turn left and then left again to start the walk back. Alternatively, you can keep going on to Lancing Ring and then round to the left to Coombes before heading back. Coombes church dates to the 11th century and has some of the most important Medieval wall paintings in England, painted in about 1100. It also has one of the oldest bells in Sussex, dated to about 1150. This longer route is just over 9 km.
The short route back
If you take the short route back, you’ll follow a narrow path with views across the valley. Look out for the circles below that look like WWII bomb craters caused by pilots offloading so they could land. Then follow the path back to the car.
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