Arundel Castle, its parkland, and the South Downs
Arundel Park, River Arun & Burpham
|Length||18.8km (11.7 miles), 5 hours 15 minutes. For the whole outing, including trains, sights and meals, allow at least 10 hours|
|Toughness||7 out of 10.|
|OS Maps||Explorer OL10 (was 121) or Landranger 197. Arundel, map reference TQ 024 063, is in West Sussex, 4km north of Littlehampton.|
This lovely South Downs walk passes through Arundel, which has a very pretty and historic centre, a Cathedral, and a very large and picturesque Castle, and then through the castle's landscaped parkland. Amberley, at the end of the walk, has a pretty riverside tea garden and a recommended pub.
The walk starts and ends along the River Arun. It goes up Arundel’s old High Street, lined with ancient buildings, to the Duke of Norfolk’s castle. The Norfolk family have been Roman Catholics for centuries, hence you pass the only church in the UK that is part Catholic and part Protestant (the Catholic part is their chapel, separated off by an iron grille).
You pass the impressive Roman Catholic Cathedral (free entry, recommended) then enter the 1,240-acre Arundel Park (the park is closed on March 24th each year, but the public footpaths should remain open on that day). From the Hiorne Tower, you descend to Swanbourne Lake, then go up and through the Park to exit it through a gap in the wall, to walk above the River Arun again.
The route leads you to the isolated hamlet of South Stoke, with its unusual church and from there you walk beside the river all the way to the village of Burpham, with its church, and pub – your lunchtime stop. The walk requires a relatively early start from London if you want to be in time for food at the lunchtime pub; the distance to the lunch pub in Burpham from the start of the walk is 6 miles, 2.5 hours of walking.
The afternoon’s walk, up, over and down the chalky South Downs, makes for a nice contrast to the morning’s walk.
There are several stretches that are steep (but with excellent views in compensation) and some of the descents on chalky paths can be slippery in the wet or after recent rain. When coming down off the South Downs towards Amberley, the final leg of the walk, across the south-western section of Amberley Wild Brooks, should not be undertaken in winter or after periods of heavy rain, as your route over the water meadows is likely to be flooded; instead, take the direct route down High Titten to the railway station and the Bridge Inn.
Amberley is a delightful village with many thatched houses, a pub, tea shop and village store, in addition to its castle and church. Next to the railway station is the Amberley Museum and Heritage Centre.
There are several opportunities during the walk to cut it short or embark on a different, shorter walk. In turn:
Lengthening the walk
Arundel Circular via Burpham or Offham
With both of these variations the bulk of the walking is before lunch. If you'd prefer a late start followed by an afternoon walk, try one of them in the reverse direction. Some brief directions for this are given below, but it would help if you had a map or were reasonably familiar with the book walk(s). For the many tea options in Arundel, see Book 2, Walk 22
Arundel Castle was built at the end of the eleventh century by Roger de Montgomery, Earl of Arundel. The castle was damaged in the Civil War (changing hands twice) and was largely rebuilt in ‘idealised Norman’ style by Dukes of Norfolk in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Parts of the castle and its grounds and cafe are open to the public, in 2020 between 01 April and 01 November, Tuesday to Sunday, Bank Holiday Mondays and all Mondays in August: 10 am to 5 pm, with last admision 4 pm. Full access ticket (2020) to Castle and grounds is £24.20 with gift aid, which qualifies for a spending voucher, and for grounds only £ 14.30.
The lack of labourers after the Black Death in 1349 led to the decay of St Nicholas Parish Church, Arundel, which was rebuilt in 1380. There were no pews, but there were stone seats around the side (hence the expression ‘the weakest go to the walls’). The building became barracks and stables for the parliamentarians during the Civil War – their guns laid siege to the castle from the church tower. In 1969, the then Duke of Norfolk opened up the wall between the Roman Catholic and Protestant parts of the church. For ecumenical special occasions, the iron grille dividing them is opened.
The Roman Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady and St Philip Howard in Arundel was completed in 1873. Entry is free. St Philip, thirteenth Earl of Arundel, whose father was beheaded by Queen Elizabeth I, was himself sentenced to death but died in 1595 after eleven years in the Tower of London, aged 39.
The eleventh century St Leonard’s Church in the hamlet of South Stoke (population 57) has a thin tower with a ‘frilly cap’, topped by a nineteenth century broach spire with four slatted dormer windows. The church is still lit by candles. Since the last resident Rector left in 1928 the parish has been in the care of the Vicar of Arundel.
A Roman pavement was uncovered in the churchyard of St Mary the Virgin Church, Burpham, and parts of the church date from before the Norman Conquest.
Amberley Castle and St Michael’s Church, Amberley were both built shortly after the Norman Conquest by Bishop Luffa, using French masons who had been brought over to England to build Chichester Cathedral. The castle, one of three country palaces for the Bishops of Chichester, was considered necessary to defend the Bishops from peasants in revolt and from marauding pirates. Today, the castle is an exclusive hotel.
A hundred men once worked at the lime and cement works that now form the Amberley Museum and Heritage Centre (amberleymuseum.co.uk, tel: 01798 831370, highly recommended), next to Amberley railway station. The museum occupies a 36 acre site and is dedicated to the industrial heritage of the south-east, containing a wide range of exhibits, including vintage transport, tools and telecommunications. The museum is also home to a number of resident craftsmen and craftswomen, working in traditional ways. Open to the public from eraly March to end of October, Wed-Sun, 10 am to 4.30 pm, also February half term week and on all days during West Sussex school holidays. Admission price for 2020 is £ 15.00 with gift aid. Average vist is 4 hours.
|Travel||Take the train nearest to 9am from Victoria Station to Arundel. Journey time about 1 hr 25 minutes. Trains back from Amberley to Victoria are hourly, with a similar journey time. Buy a day return to Arundel.|
|Lunch||The suggested lunch stop is the George Inn (tel:01903-883131), at Burpham. The pub has an extensive menu of quality main courses and specials (fairly expensive) and substantial snacks, served between noon and 2.00 pm, Monday to Friday, and noon to 3.00 pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Booking is advised during weekdays and is essential at weekends and on Bank Holiday Mondays as the pub is very popular, although in summer it is sometimes possible to find space at an outdoors table. There are also some benches outside the churchyard nearby where you can sit and enjoy a picnic and a pint from the pub.|
No major changes. This editon July 2019.
An earlier version of this walk was published in Time Out Country Walks near London volume 1. We now recommend using this online version as the book is now dated.
After the walk, we would love to get your feedback
Out (not a train station)
Back (not a train station)
National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Travelline SE (bus times): 0871 200 2233 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234
|Copyright||© Saturday Walkers Club. All Rights Reserved. No commercial use. No copying. No derivatives. Free with attribution for one time non-commercial use only. www.walkingclub.org.uk/site/license.shtml|
The directions for this walk are also in a PDF (link above) which you can download on to a Kindle, tablet, or smartphone.
The [numbers] refer to a sketch map in the book.
-  From platform 2 at Arundel Station go up the steps to the exit on the main road. Turn left on this main road to go over the bridge crossing the railway. In 80 metres you pass the access road into the station on your left-hand side. In a further 40 metres you pass Arundel Park Inn on your left-hand side.
- In 60 metres cross the busy A-road by the pedestrian traffic lights and turn left to continue down this road. In 50 metres you come to a roundabout where you fork right, on The Causeway, signposted Arundel Castle.
- In 120 metres  take the public footpath signposted to the right , your direction 65°. In 60 metres go up concrete steps to come to the River Arun, where you turn left, your direction 325°, along the top of the bank. Arundel Castle is directly ahead of you, on the horizon.
- In 275 metres leave the bank by turning left, on a path between wooden fences. In 8 metres you cross a tarmac drive to go between gateposts and across a parking area, your direction 235°. In 40 metres you come to the main road where you turn right.
- Go over the river bridge, cross over a mini-roundabout and go straight on, up the High Street (the ‘no-entry’ road), with the Post Office on your right. In 60 metres you pass Mill Lane on your right-hand side and in 50 metres you pass the War Memorial on your left. You then pass Tarrant Street on your left and in 40 metres you pass Arundel Museum and Heritage Centre on your left.
- Keep on up High Street as it becomes steeper and you pass Maltravers Street on the left, and then the castle gatehouse on your right. The road now veers left uphill and in 20 metres fork right, keeping the castle walls on your right-hand side, heading west, still uphill.
- In 90 metres you pass St Nicholas Parish Church on your right-hand side. In a further 100 metres, as the road levels out, you pass the entrance to the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady and St Philip Howard on your left-hand side. In 20 metres you pass St Mary’s Gate Inn on your left.
- The road now swings to the right and downhill, in 125 metres passing St Philip’s Catholic School on your left, at the end of which  you fork right off the road, on a path across grass, following the wall on your right-hand side, your direction 340°.
- In 70 metres you come to a notice board on your left about Arundel Park, where you keep ahead, now on a tarmac drive. Ignore the fork on your right to Arundel Estate Offices, and keep ahead up the tarmac drive, with the wall on your right-hand side.
- In 150 metres go through the wooden kissing gate to the left of the main gates into Arundel Park, with a turreted lodge house on your right. Keep ahead on the tarmac estate road, your direction 10° (or along the top of the bank on its right-hand side, if you prefer).
- In 170 metres ignore a road forking to the left and continue ahead. In a further 30 metres, as the road bends to the left, leave it and turn half-right across the grass and head gently uphill towards Hiorne Tower  (so marked on the OS map).
- In 150 metres, on reaching the Tower, turn 90° right and head for the footpath post (marked by a yellow arrow and a Monarch Way disc), 40 metres away, on a bearing of 50°. At the post, cross a horse ride cum training gallop to the fence on your left, from which you can see Swanbourne Lake below. Head downhill, quite steeply, with the fence on your left-hand side, your direction 45°.
- In 30 metres you come down to an earth and chalk car road where you turn left to go over a stile, with a fieldgate to its left, your direction 315°. Now continue down this road cum track as it swings to the left, then right. Take care during the wet or after periods of heavy rain, as the chalk can be slippery.
- The track now swings steadily to the right, downhill, with fine views below to the right and after 450 metres along this track, you reach the valley bottom . Cross a major, grassy path junction, with a footpath post on your right and in 10 metres [!] bear left, steeply uphill, your direction 20°.
- In 130 metres you come to a stile and a two-armed footpath sign. Go over the stile and keep straight on (slightly to the left), your direction now 5°, uphill on a grassy path.
- In 400 metres, still climbing, you come to two oak trees and a two-armed footpath sign on your left. Carry straight on (following the direction of the sign) towards the left-hand edge of the wood ahead, your direction now due north.
- In 280 metres, as the way levels out, cross over a stile amongst a cluster of five oak trees, and keep ahead towards the left-hand edge of the wood. In 180 metres your path joins a grass and chalk track coming in from behind and to your right, just before a two-armed footpath sign. Keep ahead along the track, your direction 330°, with the wood to your right.
- At the end of the wood on your right, and by a footpath sign, keep ahead down across grass, your direction due north, heading towards a stile. You have fine views of the church in South Stoke on the river to your right (at 85° from you) and three villages lie below you: North Stoke, the closest, on the right, Houghton to its left and in between and behind these, Amberley, at 40° from you.
- In 110 metres cross over the stile, with a wooden fieldgate on its right-hand side) and follow the direction of the footpath sign downhill, on another chalky track that can be slippery in the wet.
- In 225 metres, at the bottom of the track, at a T-junction , follow the footpath sign to the right , your direction 110°, on a track, gently downhill.
- In 120 metres, as the track swings to the right and by a two-armed footpath sign, follow the sign left , with a field fence on your right, your direction 55°, on a narrow path which meanders steadily downhill.
- In 225 metres you pass a directional post on your right and continue down, now with the park wall on your right. Pass around a tree in the middle of the path and head more steeply downhill, in 80 metres [!] coming to a tall metal kissing gate in the park wall on your right [!] which you pass through to exit Arundel Park.
- You are now at a bridleway junction , with the River Arun some 50 metres ahead and down below you.
- Here you have the first opportunity to take a short cut in your route, by turning left along the bridleway, to follow the river for 2 km to Houghton Bridge.
- But the main walk route is to turn right along the bridleway, with the river down below you, over to your left and with the park wall on your right.
- In 600 metres you come to a wooden fieldgate with a wooden swing gate on its left at 90°. Go through the swing gate and keep ahead, following the direction of the two-armed footpath sign. You now come out into the open, with a large field on your right. Follow the line of the fence on your left, downhill and in 220 metres, at the bottom, your path swings sharply to the right, in 35 metres coming to a wooden fieldgate on your left (beside a hidden and overgrown stile). Turn left through this (usually) open fieldgate, to follow the direction of the footpath sign on your left, along a farm track, on a bearing of 120°.
- The track soon heads uphill, with open fields to the right and the river down below, on your left. Some 340 metres along this track (which can be muddy) keep to the main track, passing to the right of a farm barn below you to your left.
- In 100 metres you come down to South Stoke Farm yard [!] where you turn right onto a path, your direction 145°, with a wall on your right, following the direction of the two-armed footpath sign. (Note: do not take a short cut across the farm yard to the road – the farmer gets cross with walkers who do not follow the footpath.)
- You pass the Gothic-style Chapel Barn on your immediate left. 65 metres along the path you reach a tarmac road, where you turn left, your direction 55°. Pass South Stoke Farm on your left (marked on the OS map). In 70 metres at a minor road junction take the left fork, due north. In 60 metres you pass on your right, house No.38 (which used to be an inn) with a post box in the front wall and then come to the entrance to St Leonard’s Parish Church, South Stoke, well worth a visit. After visiting the church, retrace your steps to the road and continue onwards, now on a gravel car-wide track.
- In 150 metres, just before the steel bridge over the River Arun, ignore the stile on your right. [!] ( Unless you plan to do an Arundel Circular walk, in which case cross over this stile and follow the riverbank path back to Arundel, stopping at the Black Rabbit pub for lunch).
- The main route is to cross the bridge. 5 metres from its end [!] you have a wooden kissing gate on your left and a stile on your right.
- [!] For a direct, short cut route to Amberley station, go through the kissing gate, to follow the path to North Stoke, then a lane to Houghton Bridge.
- But the main route is to turn right over the stile  to follow the River Arun, on the path on top of the riverbank, your initial direction 115° ,with the river on your right-hand side and the railway line over to your left.
- Ignore all ways off, go over two stiles (either side of a coppice - with a usually muddy path between: alternatively, to avoid some of the mud, drop down from the bank at the first stile and keep ahead along the way below, then return to the bank at the second stile). After some 1.3 km cross the railway lines by stiles at either end (with a recently renewed superstructure to the railway bridge over the river on your right). Continue alongside the river.
- In 270 metres you come to a new three-armed footpath post on your right. A few metres further on, bear right through a metal fieldgate (usually propped open) or if not cross over the stile to its right and keep ahead, your direction 170°.
- Continue ahead beside the river and in 300 metres, go through a new metal swing gate and [!] fork left  on a narrow path that heads uphill, your direction 130°. In 90 metres, at a two-armed footpath sign, you fork left (not right per the sign) your direction now 55°.
- Follow the path uphill beside a wooden fence, coming out onto a car road by the start of houses, and some 150 metres from the path fork, you come to the George Inn, Burpham, the suggested lunchtime stop. Note: this pub used to be called the George and Dragon Inn - for reasons unknow the "Dragon" was dropped a few years ago.
- Coming out of the pub door, turn right, due north, pass to the left of Burpham House and go through the gateway of St Mary the Virgin Church, which is worth a visit.
- Coming out of the church, go sharp right through the churchyard, your direction 345°, to exit the churchyard through a metal swing gate. Cross a grassy area with young pine trees to come out on to a tarmac road where you turn right, your direction 330°. You have a good view of Arundel Castle, on the horizon over to your left.
- In 400 metres you come to Peppering Farm (so marked on the OS map) and a tarmac road T-junction. Follow the public bridleway sign straight on, your direction 350°, passing barns and sheds on your left-hand side.
- Head downhill, then uphill, on a car-wide track with grass down its middle, initially between hedges, then with a large open field on your left. After 400 metres, the track descends and swings to the right. In 70 metres ignore a stile to the left and in 65 metres, ignore another stile on the left, with a chalk cliff on your right-hand side.
- You are now on a grassy track at the bottom of an escarpment, above you on the right, and with a wire fence on your left and water meadows beyond. In 120 metres you pass under mini-pylons. In a further 350 metres, with a metal fieldgate and stile directly ahead of you, and by a three-armed footpath sign on your right, [!]  turn right over a stile to go up steps, steeply uphill, on a narrow path, your direction 100°.
- Go up all 244 steps to a stile, which you cross to continue upwards on an earth path which is less steep, and before long begins to level out, now with an open field on your left behind a hedge. Some 135 metres from the end of the steps and the stile you come out on to a bridleway (a flint and chalky car-wide track), with a metal fieldgate on your right.
- Turn left on the track, your direction 20°, along the top of the South Downs. In 600 metres , at a crossing of tracks at an angle, and by a three-armed footpath sign, cross over and keep ahead (slightly to the right), your direction 30°, now on a car-wide grassy way, gently uphill.
- In 150 metres, by a post on your left with a yellow and a blue arrow, leave the track [!] to go left on a possibly overgrown footpath, due north, into trees and brush. In 60 metres, by a four-armed footpath sign, cross a bridleway to continue straight on through brush.
- In 30 metres you come out into the open and continue (slightly right) on a grassy, car-wide path, due north, gently uphill, with open fields on your left and a high hedge with blackberry bushes on your right. In 300 metres you come to a four-armed footpath sign on your right-hand side, to cross an earth road and continue ahead (slightly to the left) on an earth road, with grass down its middle, your direction 350°, downhill.
- In 75 metres go through a metal swing gate to the right of a metal fieldgate, and head steadily downhill. In 300 metres, at the bottom of the combe [!], fork right to go due north across grass, over a grass track, in 65 metres going through a wooden swing gate to the left of a metal fieldgate, by a two-armed bridleway sign.
- Turn left, your direction 290°, on a usually very muddy car-wide earth track, which meanders steadily uphill. In 150 metres you come out into the open and continue uphill, your direction north, following a muddy way by a fence on your left. In 210 metres go through a wooden swing gate with a metal fieldgate to its right-hand side, and keep onwards, now more gently uphill, with the fence still on your left and with open fields on your right.
- In 10 metres ignore the farm track to your left and keep ahead. In 285 metres leave your main earth track, which continues ahead and to the right and take [!] the left-hand fork beside the fence on your left, your direction 320°.
- In 180 metres your way merges with a major farm track from behind and on your right-hand side, with a two-armed footpath sign on your left, and in 60 metres your way is joined by a track from behind and on your left-hand side. There is a pond below you, also to your left, and Downs Farm (marked on the OS map) off on the other side of the valley.
- In 50 metres the track swings to the left through a pair of metal fieldgates, then in another 50 metres you go through another pair of metal fieldgates as the South Downs Way joins you from the right . Now keep ahead (left) on the South Downs Way. In 50 metres, as the track swings left towards the farm by a three-armed footpath sign,[!] fork right, your direction 280°, to head downhill, on a narrow path between fences, with the village of Amberley visible below on your right-hand side.
- In 240 metres go through a wooden swing gate. In 50 metres you drop steeply down to a tarmac lane where you go right, your direction 320°. The lane swings to the left and in 100 metres you come to a lane junction .
- For the direct route to Amberley Station (recommended when the Amberley Wild Brooks are waterlogged, or if it is getting dark and or you wish to get to the railway station in a hurry), take the left fork , down High Titten. In 600 metres, at the junction with the B 2139 road, turn left, and in 400 metres you come to the access road to the railway station on your left-hand side.
- But continuing on the full walk route which takes you through Amberley village and over the water meadows of Amberley Wild Brooks: at the lane junction take the right-hand fork (Mill Lane), downhill on tarmac road, your initial direction due west.
- In 400 metres you cross the busy B2139 road to go straight on into Amberley Village.
- In 170 metres, having passed a school on your right, you come to Amberley Village Tea Room on your right-hand side (a possible tea stop). In 20 metres ignore the road to your left and keep ahead, gently uphill. In 50 metres you pass the Village Store and Post Office on your right-hand side. In 35 metres you pass the Black Horse pub on your right-hand side (another possible refreshment stop).
- Turn left by the pub along the tarmac road, your direction due west, walking past thatched cottages on both sides. In 100 metres ignore a footpath sign to the right beside The Thatched House (a track which heads north across Amberley Wild Brooks) and keep ahead. In a further 100 metres you pass the thatched Old Place House on your right-hand side and at this T-junction you turn right , your direction west, passing the front of Old Place House.
- In 60 metres you pass the Pottery on your left-hand side. In a further 110 metres you may wish to enter St Michael’s churchyard. Exit the churchyard by the entrance you came in and continue along the tarmac road, now downhill.
- In 80 metres you are below the walls of Amberley Castle. In a further 100 metres continue ahead, now on a footpath below the castle walls on a path between fences, your direction 260°. At the end of the walls above keep ahead along the path, now in the open, in 160 metres going over stiles across the railway lines, to continue onwards, with Bury Church visible ahead.
- In 210 metres go over a stile to the left of a metal fieldgate, and head a quarter left, following the yellow arrow on the footpath post. In 120 metres cross another stile to the left of a metal fieldgate and keep ahead, across water meadows. In a further 130 metres go over a stile and across a stream and head for the raised path beside the River Arun, directly ahead.
- In 150 metres you come to the raised path  where you turn left along the top of the riverbank, by a three-armed footpath sign, with the river to your right, your initial direction 220°.
- Keep ahead on the path on top of the bank as it sweeps to the left in a semi-circle. In 550 metres cross a stile and keep ahead. In another 550 metres cross the substantial South Downs Way footbridge  and on its far side, turn left along the riverside as the path now swings to the right.
- In 550 metres you come to the B2139 road and go left over the bridge, [!] taking great care as there is no pavement and the narrow road is quite busy. On the far side of the bridge is a lane on your left leading to the Riverside Café, a possible tea stop. Ahead and on your right-hand side is the Bridge Inn, another possible refreshment stop.
- Continue ahead along the road, go under the railway bridge and in 40 metres turn right up the station access road, uphill, passing Amberley Museum and Heritage Centre on your left, with Amberley Station on your right. Cross the footbridge for trains back to London.
Arundel Circular via Burpham or Offham Options
The Offham options pass the Black Rabbit pub, in an idyllic riverside setting with plenty of outside seating and Arundel castle on the horizon. Very highly recommended.
Circular via Burpham
- Follow the directions above to the lunchtime pub in Burpham, the George and Dragon.
- Follow the directions in Book 2 Walk 22 to return to Arundel.
Circular via Offham
- Follow the directions above to the church in South Stoke.
- Do not cross the bridge over the River Arun, but turn right and follow the path along the river bank for 400m. Here you have a choice:
- Riverside Option: Simply continue along the riverside path for another 2km to come to the Black Rabbit Inn in Offham.
- Hilly Option: Bear right to go onto a bridleway along the right-hand edge of the water meadows. This eventually climbs gently to reach a minor road, where you turn left. In 75m fork right and go down the lane to the pub. This route is about 1.5km.
- After lunch in the pub, you have another choice:
- Riverside Option: Return to the riverside path and follow it for 3km to Arundel's road bridge. This route goes along the back of the WWT Reserve, across a sluice and then follows the river in a wide loop around the water meadows.
- Swanbourne Lake Option: Turn right out of the pub and follow the minor road for 2km into Arundel. This passes the entrance to the WWT Reserve, then Swanbourne Lake - an optional 1.5km detour around the lake is recommended - and finally the walls of Arundel Castle.
- After exploring the town, cross the bridge over the river and follow the road for 750m to return to the station.
Circular via Burpham (reverse direction)
- Soon after passing the roundabout on the way into Arundel, take a footpath on the right which leads to the river.
- Turn right and follow the riverside path for 5km into Burpham.
- After lunch, head back towards the river and continue alongside it up to the bridge at South Stoke (crossing over the railway en route).
- Go across the bridge, past the church and through the village to South Stoke Farm.
- Turn right and follow the bridleway for 1.5km up to the back entrance to Arundel Park (a gate in the stone wall).
- Enter the park and follow the footpath (the Monarch's Way) all the way through the park and back to Arundel.
Circular via Offham (reverse direction)
- From Arundel station, follow the normal route towards the town and cross the bridge over the River Arun.
- Either follow the riverside path for 3km to the Black Rabbit Inn, or simply walk along Mill Road for 2km to the pub.
- After lunch,continue along the riverside path (or across the meadows) to South Stoke, and continue as above.