South Downs Way: Bignor Hill to Washington


Bignor Hill


10.9 miles (17.5kms)

922ft (281m)

About the walk

This third section along the South Downs Way National Trail is almost entirely off road, running on a variety of tracks that take the walker down from the heights of Bignor Hill down into the small riverside village of Amberley, perhaps best known for its castle which is now an up-market hotel. The route rises swiftly back up to ride a long ridge before dropping again to another small village, Washington, which sees the journey’s end and offers some well-earned refreshment at its pub.

Walk directions

From the top of Bignor Hill, the South Downs Way follows a hard  chalk track to the east, along the top of the Down, with fine views southwards over the coastal plain as far as Bognor Regis and Littlehampton. Ahead in the distance lies Chanctonbury Ring. The route zigzags steeply downhill to old farm buildings in a spot which can frequently be muddy at the bottom of Westburton Hill, before
taking the walker uphill on a narrow chalk track, passing a trig point at 584ft (178m) to the left and soon reaching the busy A29 Worthing road.

From here there is a splendid view of the route ahead, as the landscape dives down into the Arun Valley, with dramatic chalk hills beyond Amberley. Cross the A29. The bridleway that continues the route will be found a short distance to the south. The South Downs Way carries on steeply downhill by the
side of Coombe Wood on another chalk track, bringing you to a lane a short way to the north of the hamlet of Houghton.

The SDW continues straight on to reach the River Arun where a modern bridge spans the River, then follow the riverbank and turn left (east) after a few hundred metres, where a narrow track and then a concrete farm track leads to the B2139.

The SDW then crosses the road and follows an off-road section to meet the bottom of High Titten Lane. On the far side of the old bridge that crosses the River Arun there is a riverside café with outdoor seating, as well as a pub, restaurant, small shop, and water trough with drinking tap. Upriver are the Amberley Wild Brooks, a scheduled nature reserve stretching as far as Greatham Bridge, to the
east of Coldwaltham. To complete a circular route, footpaths can be followed northeast through Arundel Park, to the junction of the A284 and the A29 at Whiteways Lodge (where there is a large car park at the roundabout, grid ref. TQ 002 107, convenient for a pick-up by car), and on through Houghton Forest to Bignor Hill. Turning off to the left, steeply uphill on High Titten Lane, by the side of a large Victorian house, there are fascinating glimpses of the chalk pits of the Amberley Museum and
Heritage Centre below, before the route emerges on the open Downs, away from civilization. A fenced
track leads steeply uphill on grass, away from Down Farm, towards Amberley Mount, and on to the top of Rackham Hill.

With few trees on the hillsides, from here on the views are mostly unobstructed all around. To the west is Amberley Castle, once a 14th-century fortified manor house belonging to the Bishops of Chichester, and now a luxury country house hotel. To the north lies Parham House, an Elizabethan mansion with
wooded deer park. To the south is Arundel, an ancient town built on a hillside, with its own fine castle and Roman Catholic Cathedral of St Philip Howard.

At the top of Chantry Hill there is a car park, with a tarmac lane leading downhill to the busy village of Storrington. Nearby Sullington has a Saxon church ringed by old yew trees.

A further 1.25 miles (2km) later, the South Downs Way divides to give two optional routes. Use the much safer option to divert to the northeast downhill past Rowdell House, to where a footbridge leads over the A24 and into Washington by the side of its church. Further on is the old London Road, now known as The Street, and The Frankland Arms.

Additional information

Chalk, concrete, flint and grass tracks, occasional mud after heavy rain

Farmland, woods, hills and villages

This is mainly off road but use a lead when near livestock

OS Explorer 121

At start

None on route

Been on this walk?

Send us photos or a comment about this route.

Know a good walk?

Share your route with us.

Walking in safety

Read our tips to look after yourself and the environment when following this walk.

Find out more

About the area