A glorious Goodwood loop

One of Britain's best known racecourses lies beside this woodland walk with a spur to the Weald and Downland Living Museum




5 miles (8kms)

385ft (117m)
2hr 15min

About the walk

Think of horse racing on the South Downs and you immediately think of Goodwood, without doubt one of Britain’s loveliest and most famous racecourses. The course rises and falls around a natural amphitheatre, with the horses dashing along the ridge to create one of the greatest spectacles in the racing world. Its superb position amid magnificent beechwoods high on the Downs draws crowds from far and wide, and for one week every summer it becomes ‘Glorious Goodwood’, when thousands of racegoers travel to Sussex to attend one of the most prestigious events of the sporting and social calendar.

The course opened in 1801 after the Duke of Richmond gave part of his estate, Goodwood Park, to establish a track where members of the Goodwood Hunt Club and officers of the Sussex Militia could attend meetings. However, Goodwood’s track record has not always been unblemished. Towards the end of the 19th century the racecourse acquired a rather unfortunate reputation in the area when the rector of nearby Singleton protested to the Chief Constable in the strongest terms over the rowdy behaviour of racegoers. As a result, the crowds were restrained.

The walk begins at Goodwood Country Park, a popular amenity area characterised by woodland and downland grass, and initially follows part of the Monarch’s Way through extensive woodland and down to the village of East Dean. Along the road is neighbouring Charlton.

At this point you should visit the Weald and Downland Living Museum, with its unusual collection of traditional homes and workplaces in both village and countryside. The main walk finishes by skirting Goodwood and on race days crowds line the bridleway alongside it, watching as camera crews dash back and forth in an effort to capture the best television images. The sound of the PA system floats across the course as you witness all the colourful activity.

Walk directions

Make for the western end of Counter’s Gate car park and head out on a footpath that skirts a field, then goes through a copse and bears right onto a road. Cross over (taking great care at this fast blind bend) to a junction of two clear tracks, with a path on the right. Follow the right-hand track, which is signposted ‘public footpath’ and forms part of the Monarch’s Way, to a five-bar gate and stile. Continue along to the next stile and then cross a clearing in the woods until you come to a fingerpost beneath the trees at the far end.

Follow the path briefly through the woods to emerge at the top of a field. The village of East Dean can be seen nestling down below. Head diagonally right down the steep field slope to reach a stile in the corner.

Cross into the adjacent field and follow the boundary to a second stile leading out to the road. Bear left and walk down into East Dean, passing Manor Farm. Keep right at the junction in the village centre and, if it’s opening time, follow the road towards Petworth in order to visit The Star & Garter pub.

Leave East Dean by keeping the pond on your right-hand side and follow the road towards Midhurst and Singleton. On reaching Charlton village, pass the Fox Goes Free pub and take the next left turning. Follow the lane to a stile on the right and a turning on the left. Cross over into the fields and follow the straight path. At the end of the field bear right then go through a kissing gate and along an enclosed path to a residential road. Keep straight ahead and then continue along a walkway between houses. You’ll reach a green and playground with the church beyond. Turn right from the church car park to the road, left past The Partridge Inn, left at the main road and left again. The Weald and Downland Living Museum at Singleton is just up this road on the right. Return to this stile by the same route and take the road opposite.

Walk along to the junction and turn right by the war memorial, dedicated to fallen comrades of the Sussex Yeomanry in both World Wars. Follow the track (Chalky Road) past houses and then on up through the trees. On the left are glimpses of a glorious rolling landscape, while to the right Goodwood’s superb downland racecourse edges into view between the trees. Stay on the track all the way to the road and cross over to return to the Counter’s Gate car park.

Additional information

Woodland tracks and field paths, section of Monarch's Way and one lengthy stretch of quiet road, several stiles

Mixture of dense woodland and scenic downland

Off lead on woodland tracks

OS Explorer OL8 Chichester

Counter's Gate car park and picnic area at Goodwood Country Park

None on route

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About the area

Discover West Sussex

Divided from East Sussex back in 1888, West Sussex is so typically English that to walk through its landscape will feel like a walk through the whole country. Within its boundaries lies a wide variety of landscape and coastal scenery, but it is the spacious and open South Downs with which the county is most closely associated.

In terms of walking, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Studying the map reveals a multitude of routes – many of them to be found within the boundaries of the South Downs National Park – and an assortment of scenic long-distance trails leading towards distant horizons; all of them offer a perfect way to get to the heart of ‘Sussex by the sea,’ as it has long been known. If you enjoy cycling with the salty tang of the sea for company, try the ride between Chichester and West Wittering. You can vary the return journey by taking the Itchenor ferry to Bosham. 

West Sussex is renowned for its many pretty towns, of course. Notably, there is Arundel, littered with period buildings and dominated by the castle, the family home of the Duke of Norfolk, that dates back nearly 1,000 years.

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