For this Bignor Hill walk, you’ll need Ordnance Survey OL 10. It’s just under 9 km (although there are shorter or longer routes) and it took about 1 hour and 45 mins. Parking and the start point are at the Whiteways roundabout just north of Arundel and just south of Bury on the A29. There is also parking at Bignor Hill which you can access from Bignor village.
I’d like to say this was one of my favourite walks, but in all honesty, I’ve loved all the South Downs walks I’ve done! This was certainly no exception with history, local legends, stunning views and beautiful woods. It’s food for the soul indeed.
You set off along what’s called The Denture trail which is also part of Monarch’s Way, heading north west through the woods. The Denture Walk is a 12.6 km loop trail with some great views. If you don’t want to walk too far, Houghton Wood is approximately 582.54 acres of beautiful forest with lots of little footpaths to explore. The route we took along Monarch’s Way skirts almost along the edge of the forest and is a nice steady climb up to the top of the Downs. You can hang a right turn at two separate places along your way if you want to do a shorter version of this walk.
For our purposes, it was a bright, brilliant and slightly chilly winter’s day when we left the woods behind us. There’s a sign that notifies you you’re now on National Trust land and entering part of the Slindon Estate and you pass a Neolithic Camp although I couldn’t see anything! It feels good to be up here but tempting as it is to push on, you turn right before you get to Glatting Beacon, leaving The Denture trail. The Beacon is distinguishable by its radio masts and has great views but we headed up to the Bignor car park. This has the wow factor with a “Roman” signpost and is the most northerly part of the Slindon Estate. The old Roman Stane Street came this way and it’s also the site of Bronze Age burial grounds. This spot is a recommended site for stargazing and we’ll be back in the next couple of months to try that out.
With views to Brighton and the Arun Valley, you think it can’t get any better here, but it can and it does …
Turn right at the signpost and take the South Downs Way east up Bignor Hill to Toby’s Stone. It’s easy to find your way and the path gently climbs to reveal yet more amazing views. You’ll come to a large mounting block just past the crest of the hill, with the following inscription,
Here he lies
Where he longed to be
Home is the sailor
Home from the sea
And the hunter
Home from the hill
This is a rather poignant commemoration of local huntsman James Wentworth-Fitzwilliam, and a great viewpoint. I am sure he may have had good reason to need a mounting block at the top of the Downs but based on my own riding experience, all I could imagine was that he regularly used to come flying up the hill on his horse and fall off. There’s also an old, local legend that a dragon had its lair on top of this hill.
You can see your path ahead of you winding away and you can’t help but reflect on all those who have gone before you this way over the many centuries. Follow the South Downs Way downwards, turning left and then round to the right as you climb from Westburton Hill up to Bury Hill.
More spectacular views!
When you reach the crossroads at the top of Bury Hill just turn south and follow the path back to the car park.
The really good news is that there’s a café in the car park before you head home, or if you want to extend your day out, Arundel is just a couple of miles south and is always worth a visit. Alternatively, visit the Roman Villa at Bignor, currently closed but re-opening in the spring.
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