West Sussex Walk: Bramber. Distance: 9 km. Elevation: 165 m. Difficulty: Medium.
This West Sussex walk includes sections of three of Sussex’s great trail routes, namely the Downs Link, the South Downs Way and the Monarch’s Way, as well as throwing in a little bit of history and some amazing views. Park at Bramber, and head towards the main roundabout and the A283. Here you’ll find the entrance to Bramber Castle as well as the Downs Link.
The Downs Link and coffee stop 1
The Downs Link is a 59 km route that links the North Downs to the South Downs and Shoreham. Join it at the roundabout and head south east until the path crosses the road. The sound of traffic soon fades and you can see the Downs on either side of you and the River Adur to your left. If you need coffee already, turn left and head to the layby on the side of the A283 where there’s normally an excellent horsebox café. If not, where the track almost meets the river, you turn right. You have now left the Downs Link and joined the South Downs Way. Follow the footpath to the village Botolphs.
St Botolphs and coffee stop 2
Although you bear right into the tiny hamlet, if you fancy a short diversion to your left you’ll find St Botolph’s church. This is a Saxon church built around 950 AD. It’s Grade II listed and has been described as one of the 500 holiest sites in Britain. It has a Jacobean pulpit and one of the oldest (if not the oldest) church doors in the county. It’s in a wonderfully quiet location and sometimes they also serve coffee here too.
The South Downs Way
The South Downs Way is perhaps our county’s most famous trail, and is 160 km long and runs from Eastbourne to Winchester. It’s always well signed. Walk through the Saxon village of Botolphs and at the top of the village, the South Downs Way takes you left as you start the climb up the South Downs and Annington Hill.
Annington hill is notable for two things: firstly, it has fantastic views of Bramber, Upper Beeding, the local quarry and the sea. If you look carefully, you can make out Bramber Castle. The other thing this stretch of the Downs is known for is pigs and there are lots of lots of them! As you get to know these grunty fellows, just follow the South Downs Way straight ahead and enjoy the valley which rolls down to your right and gives you a real insight into the magnificent nature of the Downs.
Steyning Bowl and Monarch’s Way
Eventually, you meet a quiet road. This is actually one of the few places where you can park up on the Downs (it’s on the back road from Steyning to Sompting). Here you turn right and follow the path along the road for a short distance. There are a couple of benches conveniently placed for those that want to just sit and reflect. At the junction, leave the South Downs Way and pick up Monarch’s Way as you almost double back on yourself. Here you skirt along the steep slopes of the Steyning Bowl.
The Monarch’s Way is another of our great Sussex routes. It’s roughly 1,006 km long and follows the path believed to have been taken by King Charles II in 1651 after being defeated in the Battle of Worcester and as he made his escape to France via Shoreham. Stick on this trail all the way back to the start of your walk at the roundabout in Bramber.
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