South Downs Way: Cocking Hill to Bignor Hill




7.3 miles (11.7kms)

948ft (289m)

About the walk

This is the second section along the South Downs Way National Trail. It is almost entirely off road, running on bridleways that pass across Heyshott Down and Graffham Down, which together form a ridge. It means that once you’ve gained height at the start of the walk, you stay high for many miles, only dropping down into a valley at Littleton Farm before rising once more to reach the end. There is nowhere on the way to seek refreshment so you might want to grab a cup of tea in Cocking before you begin.

Walk directions

By Hill Barn Farm is one of the few public water taps for walkers along the entire length of the route. Fill up your water bottle as the track heads steeply uphill past Manor Farm Down and Heyshott Down. To the south is Goodwood Park, while far beyond on the coast is the former RAF Hurricane and Spitfire fighter station at Tangmere. Along the top of the Down, the views are shrouded by dense woodland.

You pass the village of Heyshott to the north, where 53 acres of downland are conserved and managed by the Murray Downland Trust. It was in a farmhouse called Dunford in Heyshott that Victorian free trader Richard Cobden was born. A little further along the SDW a number of connected grassland reserves and woodland corridors are managed by the Graffham Downland Trust as Sites of Special Scientific Interest.

Some way on you pass Graffham, also to the north and shrouded by trees. Another long downhill stretch leads to the A285 Petworth–Chichester road by the side of Littleton Farm.

Turning left, to the north, the road leads to the car park at the top of Duncton Down.
From here there are fine views towards Blackdown, the house built by Alfred Lord Tennyson, with Seaford College at the foot of the hill below. A stark white chalk track wends its way up to the top of Burton Down, homing in towards the two radio masts.

The South Downs Way passes some way to the south of them, along a narrow and sometimes muddy track, crossing National Trust land. Soon the walker comes to the car park at Bignor Hill. This part of the route is usually well used by Sunday afternoon walkers in summertime, congregating at the Bignor Post. This ancient signpost shows the way along Stane Street, built by the Romans to connect London Bridge with Chichester’s East Gate in the 1st century AD. The nearest overnight accommodation is about 2 miles (3km) away in Sutton. Good bunkhouse accommodation is also available between March and October at the National Trust’s Gumber Farm, about 1 mile (1.6km) south along Stane street.

Additional information

Concrete, chalk and grass paths or tracks

Open farmland, woods, hills, views of hamlet-speckled countryside

This is an off-road route but dogs should be on lead near livestock

OS Explorer 120, 121

On street in Cocking or just south of Cocking on South Downs Way

None on route

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

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