Cissbury Ring Walk

Cissbury Ring Walk

by Robert Veitch

Enjoy a ramble up and around the stunning scenery of Cissbury Ring as our walk loops the loop at this historic ‘Scheduled Ancient Monument’

At Cissbury Ring there’s plenty of parking at the junction of Storrington Rise and Long Meadow, on the eastern side of Findon Valley, just off the A24.

From the car park pass between two white-topped metal bollards, across flattened grass towards the north-east corner. A fingerpost with a blue arrow indicates a route between trees, into the field beyond.

The path hugs the left side of the field, deftly working its way uphill. Small clumps of purple heather appear sporadically while blackberries ripening in the hedgerow linger temptingly, longing to be picked. Towards the top of the field the path sweeps around to the right.

About 50 metres further on, turn left into trees, then right at the bench. Wander up the arboreal steps; made up of the roots of sycamores and beeches that inhabit the canopy above. Atop the steps, stay left and follow the field boundary once more.

At the top of the field, through a badly hung metal seven-bar gate, keep going uphill. Purple heather on both sides indicates most of the legwork is done and that perseverance will overcome the rest of the gradient.

Just shy of the metal kissing gate is Jane Elizabeth Milner’s bench. Pause, take a seat and enjoy the view from whence you came. On a clear day, the transmitters of Glatting Beacon can be seen, some 15 miles away as the crow flies.

Beyond the kissing gate, pass through the open ditch and up the steps, bearing left and walking along the ridge. Follow the path and keep going north-east, enjoying the views along the way.

An open ditch surrounds all 60-65 acres of Cissbury Ring. Originally it was three metres deep, and surrounded a wooden wall on the ridge you are walking. It protected an Iron Age hill fort, which was the largest in Sussex. Prior to that, flint was mined during the Bronze Age. The remains of the pits and mounds can be viewed along the southern and western perimeters of the ring.

More recently, Romans are thought to have lived here briefly. The site then remained uninhabited for almost two millennia, until WWII when a large gun was put in place to protect the English Channel. It’s long since removed from the site. At the end of the 1970’s attempts to hold music festivals were stifled by the Police. These days, Cissbury Ring is owned and managed by the National Trust.

Cissbury Ring is currently home to a semi-wild herd of New Forest ponies, which are mostly chestnut in colour. The public are asked to keep dogs on leads and to resist the urge to feed the ponies.

The transmitters of Truleigh Hill slip into view as the path reaches its northern apogee. Jo and Brien Howard’s bench is well located under a sycamore tree and worth a hiatus. Moving on, the path reaches a crest along a thin line of chalk in the downland grass. If the light is good, the views are tremendous; Wolstonbury Hill and Truleigh Hill on the scarp side of the South Downs; Worthing, Brighton and Seaford Head on the leeward side. Out to sea the Rampion Wind Farm continues to grow.

Trot down the steps in the embankment, turning left and following the beach-encrusted chalk underfoot towards the five-bar gate. Beyond it, bear right and stride 200 metres to the fingerpost. The finger pointing right marked ‘Public Bridleway’ is the route to follow. It’s a well-worn rutted track, steep to begin with and snaking its way around the contours. This is the head of a dry valley that was once home to a Roman vineyard, but now contains a golf course.

Up and over a brow then skipping downhill, the track has the feel of a rollercoaster. Then, uphill steeply, but not for long, the route banks right under the canopy cast by trees. A Green Woodpecker flew across the track here, brightening my journey with flashes of its plumage.

At the intersection of several paths, bear right at the water trough, striding uphill alongside beech trees. When the trees peter out, pass through the embankment and walk up the wide green fairway populated with stunted oaks on the right.

Where the fairway splits, fork right. When it splits again, bear left and follow it to the trig point. Congratulations on claiming the 183 metres (602 foot) summit. Summiteers can celebrate their arrival at the highest point on Cissbury Ring by dancing a jig, high-fiving and roistering to their hearts content.

From here, walk downhill and easterly towards Brighton. Two hundred metres further on things might begin to look very familiar! At the cutting in the embankment climb the steps on the right and follow the ridge south and then south-easterly towards Findon Valley.

Below, the dry valley golf course and path, walked earlier, will be visible. After a quarter of a mile clamber down the steps through the cutting and up the other side. Again, it will look familiar. Follow the embankment and if the skies are clear Selsey is 25 miles away and the Isle of Wight is almost 40 miles distant.

The embankment swings around the southern tip of Cissbury Ring and the loops are almost complete. Soon enough, the steps that were first ascended will appear. Turn hard left and descend, maybe pausing at the bench one more time. From here it’s downhill all the way to the car park and home in time for tea and cake.

  • Distance: 3.5m
  • Stiles: 0
  • Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer OL10
  • Parking: Free parking at the junction of Long Meadow and Storrington Rise
  • Refreshments: None
  • Public Transport: Service #1 (Worthing – Midhurst) and Service #23 (Crawley – Worthing)

Whilst Les Campbell is recuperating from an accident, Robert Veitch has taken on the role of being Les’ legs. We hope that Les will be back out and walking again soon and wish him all the best with his recovery. Robert has tested the route personally, making sure it is suitable for walking. However, even he cannot guarantee the effects of the weather, or roadworks, or any other factors outside of his control. If you would like to send your feedback about a local walk, please email editorial@sussexliving.com