Amberley – South Downs Way – Cootham – Parham Park - Amberley

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The walk starts in the pretty village of Amberley which is noted for its flint walled thatched cottages. (Ironically a house called 'The Thatched House' is one of the few houses in the village which isn't thatched). The church is Norman – early 12th century – and has an arch and nave from this period and wall paintings from approximately 1300 but only revealed during restoration work in the 1960s. Next door to the church is Amberley Castle, really a fortified manor house originally built for the bishop of Chichester but now a hotel.

Amberley open air museum is on the B2139 near Amberley station and the road bridge over the River Arun. Situated in an old chalk pit it is dedicated to the industrial heritage of SE England.

The outward section of the walk is along the South Downs Way, a 100 mile long distance trail between Winchester and Eastbourne. This section has chalk underfoot which can be rather hard on the feet. An alternative is to walk along the top part of Springhead Estate, parallel to and on the north side of the South Downs Way. The first access point for this is via a gate on your left hand side at the top of the hill at waymark 3. The positions of other access points correspond to the tracks going off to the right hand side mentioned in the directions.

This is a lovely scenic spot for coffee break or lunch. I saw yellowhammers and skylarks on my visit. There is also the potential for additional entertainment watching the gliders from the glider cub near Storrington.

From Kithurst car park the route descends towards Storrington via Kithurst Meadow. Managed by the South Downs National Park Association and Butterfly Conservation this area of chalk grassland provides a habitat for butterflies and plants which were once common on the South Downs. 34 species of butterflies have been found there and it is an important site for orchids – common spotted, pyramidal and early purple.

The return route to Amberley is initially on the public footpath through Parham Park, an Elizabethan mansion and estate. Here we pick up the West Sussex Literary Trail, a 55 mile long trail meandering between Horsham and Chichester linking sites with literary connections.

Parham Park is a 300 acre ancient deer park – the dark coated fallow deer you see here are descendants of the original herd from 1628. Part of the park is a Site of Special Scientific Interest owing to its veteran trees which provide an important habitat for rare beetles and lichen.
The house has an important collection of paintings, furniture and early needlework including bed hangings reputed to have been worked by Mary Queen of Scots. The Long Gallery is the third longest in England. During WW II it initially accommodated children evacuated from London and then, more latterly, Canadian soldiers.

The film ‘Haunted’ based on a book by James Herbert, was filmed here in 1995.
The house and gardens which include a 4 acre walled garden and pleasure grounds are open to the pubic on some days- see website-

From here the route proceeds through Rackham Plantation, woodland owned by the RSPB which is part of the Amberley Wild Brooks site. In the woodland's interior is a Roundbarrow Cemetery dated 2400-1500BC situated on a sandstone outcrop. Given its elevated position over the marshes you can imagine it being a focal point for Bronze Age communities. Evidence has been found of the crafting of flint tools in the area.

To explore this further make a detour by continuing along the road at waymark 10 and then taking a signed path on the left hand side after about 300m.

Note for dog owners -There are several stiles on the route all between waymarks 11 and 12. This is also the only place where there is the potential for direct contact with livestock and can be avoided by taking the longer route back to Amberley via the country lanes. Continue straight ahead at waymark 9 and turn right after about 500m.

England - South England - West Sussex - South Downs


Ancient Monument, Birds, Butterflies, Flowers, Food Shop, Great Views, Hills or Fells, Pub, Public Transport, River, Stately Home, Tea Shop, Woodland

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13.7 Miles
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