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Rowlands Castle Grand Circular walk

Long walk via Kingley Vale SSI, Beacon Hill, and the South Downs ridge

Length 37km (23m)
OS Map Explorer Map OL8
Toughness 10+ out of 10
Features

This walk explores the area and visits all the highlights to the north east of Rowlands Castle. It passes a Saxon Church at Stoughton, Kingley Vale Nature Reserve with its yew tree woods, bronze-age burial mounds on Bow Hill, Beacon Hill on the South Downs Way with its magnificent views, the site of a murder most foul at Harris Well and an early Norman church. In late April / early May you will come across vast areas of wild garlic. The ancient landscape the walk passes through feels remote and quiet, as if harking back to a more pastoral life. This is a long and strenuous walk with several steep climbs. There are several pubs along the route for refreshments.

St Mary, Stoughton: This church was most likely built sometime during 11th century before the Norman conquest. It still has many features considered typical "Saxon" such as the high-rise chancel, much thinner walls than Norman churches, windows set high up in the walls and a round arch separating the nave from the chancel.

Kingley Vale National Nature Reserve: One of Euope's most impressive yew tree forest which for some reason survived the felling of yew trees in the middle ages. The wood of yew trees was used for longbows.


Devil's Humps: Bronze-age burial mounds on top of Bow Hill, part of KVNNR.

Beacon Hill: Highest point on the walk with fantastic views towards Chichester Harbour. Remnants of a bronze-age fort surround the top.

Uppark House (Optional): A 17th century house built by Ford Grey and now owned by the National Trust. It was completely restored using historical craftsmanship after a devastating fire in 1989.

Harris Well: In 1749 the cobbler Daniel Chater was brutally murdered by a gang of smugglers to prevent him from testifying against one of their partners in crime by being thrown into the well and stoned to death.

Chalton: Chalton is a charming small village with the church of St Michael built in the 13th century and the Red Lion Inn from the 16th century.

St Hubert's Church at Idsworth: 11th century church, the only remnant of the village of Idsworth which was abandonded in the 14th century.

Walk Options

You can shortcut the walk in various ways. But even with these shortcuts it still remains a strenuous walk:

Use walk SWC 68 either for the morning section to The Royal Oak at Hooksway or the afternoon section back from Hooksway to Rowlands Castle.

Take bus 54 to Petersfield from South Harting or from Uppark (total 25km / 16m)

Finish the walk in Petersfield (total 33km / 20m)

Travel Take the train nearest to 7:30 from London Waterloo to Rowlands Castle
Lunch

The Royal Oak (01243 535257) A wonderful 16th century inn in the middle of nowhere with a big garden. Note that they serve lunch only between 12:00 and 14:00 and it is 18km from the start to this pub.

The White Horse (01243 519444) A bit pricier inn that was once owned by the wine merchant who still plies his trade from the house in front of the pub. The current owner is also keen on wine. It serves the full lunch menu until 15:00 and then a reduced menu. If you cannot make it by 14:00 to The Royal Oak have lunch here.

Tea

Various places in Rowlands Castle:

The Castle Inn (02392 412494)

Robin Hood Inn (02392 412268)

The Fountain Inn

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By Train

Out (not a train station)

Back (not a train station)

By Car

Start PO9 6BP Map Directions

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Help

Start walking Large print Using GPS data

National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Travelline SE (bus times): 0871 200 2233 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234

Version

Oct-18

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

Walk Directions  

The directions for this walk are also in a PDF (link above) which you can download on to a Kindle, tablet, or smartphone.

  1. Leave the station and walk down the road. Turn left and then left again underneath the railway bridge. Follow the road to where it veers left and take the footpath into the woods opposite.
  2. In 90m cross another footpath and continue on towards the east onto the long avenue towards Stansted House. In 1.9km cross a road, pass Middle Lodge and follow the tarmac road slightly turning left.
  3. In 500m turn left through a gate. Follow this path for 1.2km along the edge of a wood to where the path veers left into the woods. In 40m turn right direction north. Ignore the path turning sharp right.
  4. In 500m before you enter the open field turn right just inside the edge of the wood. The path then opens up into a field. Follow the hedge on your left until you reach Broadreed Farm.
  5. In 1km walk through Broadreed Farm, at its other end turn left onto a tarmac road.
  6. In 450m ignore the first path to the right along the edge of the wood, instead take a path on the right just inside the wood at a 4 way footpath sign.
  7. Follow the path as it turns left downhill and descends to the B2146 in 200m. In 300m cross the road and walk up Lockash road.
  8. In 200m leave the road as it turns left uphill and continue straight following the footpath sign. Keep going in this direction ignoring all ways offs until in 800m the path veers left uphill and then right around towards an open field. There follow the path along the edge of the wood on your left.
  9. Continue following the edge of the wood as it turns left until in 300m you enter the woods and come to an intersection with a path where you turn right downhill.
  10. In 230m cross a road and follow the path uphill through woods. In 400m at the top of the ridge, the Monarch's Way joins from the right. Continue on your path, now the Monarch's way, ignoring the path on the left. Soon you will see the roofs of the village of Stoughton in the valley ahead of you.
  11. In 550m you reach Stoughton. To view the Saxon church turn left uphill. The Hare and Hounds pub is 200m towards the left along the main road through Stoughton.
  12. To continue the walk turn right on the main road through Stoughton. [!] In 150m turn left up a concrete driveway.
  13. In 1.3km ignore the path on your left, but in a further 200m turn left. In 400m at an information board you enter the Kingley Vale Nature Reserve with its yew tree woods on your right.
  14. In 400m you come out on an open hill top with two bronze-age burial mounds (Devil's Humps). From the top of the mounds you can see towards the south-east Chichester Cathedral and the eastern-most arm of Chichester Harbour.
  15. Continue along the path ignoring the one which turns off downhill towards the right.
  16. in 750m at a 4 way intersection with a 4 way footpath sign turn left. Towards the east you can see The Trundle with its radio masts.
  17. In 800m at a 6 way intersection enter the woods ahead taking the second path on your left.
  18. In 700m join a car wide track.
  19. In 300m turn right at a 3 arm footpath sign.
  20. Continue along this path ignoring all ways offs until in 2.3km you come to the B2141 with the White Horse opposite. Cross the road with care and walk along it towards the left for 200m passing the White Horse. The White Horse is a possible earlier lunch time stop. It is another 2.4km to the Royal Oak, the recommended lunch time stop. If you are too late to get there by 14:00 stop at the White Horse for lunch.
  21. Go through the kissing gate and follow the path in roughly the same direction for 900m. In more details: In 250m go through a gate. In 160m cross a car wide track and go through another gate. In 580m you come to a T-junction where you turn right along a car wide track.
  22. In 250m take the path past the wooden gate on the left. Follow this ignoring all ways offs until in 1.1km you reach the Royal Oak at Hooksway the suggested lunch stop.
  23. Coming out of the Royal Oak turn left and left again past the pub. Follow the moss-covered footpath sign and the corresponding path for 1.1km where you join a car wide track coming up from the left.
  24. In 60m leave the car wide track and take the footpath on its left.
  25. In 1km you turn left joining the South Downs Way. In 100m turn right staying on the South Downs Way either in front of the wood or through a small corner of the wood.
  26. In 400m you reach the top of Pen Hill. From there you can see at the foot of the next hill (Beacon Hill) the South Downs Way turning left towards the south and a rough path going straight up Beacon Hill. Take this path straigth up to the top of Beacon Hill from where you have a magnificient view towards Chichester Harbour.
  27. Drop down from Beacon Hill towards a 5 way footpath sign and follow the direction of the South Downs Way which is the path closest to the escarpment. In the valley towards the north you can see the hamlet of South Harting.
  28. In 1.5km you cross a road.
  29. In 700m you cross another road. You have two options here: If you want to pass or even visit the 17th century Uppark House follow the instructions under [31]. Otherwise cross the road and continue on the South Downs Way and follow instructions under [30].
  30. Remain on the SDW

    1. In 20m you can short-cut the walk by leaving the South Downs Way and taking the path downhill, forking left in 20m all the way into South Harting where you can take bus 54 to Petersfield or Chichester. Otherwise continue on the South Downs Way.
    2. In 450m ignore a 3-armed footpath sign on the right but in a further 170m at a three-armed footpath sign on the left you have again two options: You can again short-cut the walk to Petersfield by following the instructions below (Finish in Petersfield). Otherwise turn left leaving the South Downs Way. Coming out into a field turn right for 5m before turning left into a row of trees.
    3. Follow this path for 1km staying in the woods for as long as possible and then walk along the line of trees on your right.
    4. Where the path enters the wood, turns into a harder car wide track and veers right uphill turn left onto a small footpath. In 50m you join a car wide track from the right which you follow for 500m until you come to a four-way intersection. Continue with instructions under [32].
  31. Via Uppark House (NT)

    1. Turn left along the road for 200m then turn left off the road. This is the northern access road towards Uppark House which you will reach in 300m. After having visited the house turn right here down the road in northerly direction. In 500m you cross a road and continue on the path opposite for 400m.
    2. When you reach a T-junction with a footpath pole turn left for 300m until you come to a four-way intersection.
  32. Both options continue. Turn right uphill. In 120m after following the track around to the right turn left off the car wide track onto a grassy path.
  33. In 350m cross a path and in 500m, 5m before you step out onto a car wide gravel track turn left into the woods. This is the Sussex Border Path which you now follow all the way back to Rowlands Castle.
  34. In 800m, at the bottom of the slope, turn right and then left onto a car wide track.
  35. In 500m you will find a fenced-in well on our right. This is the old Harris Well with a sign detailing the events in 1749 when the cobbler Daniel Chater was brutally murdered by a gang of smugglers to prevent him from testifying against one of their partners in crime.
  36. In 400m you come to a wide intersection. Follow the Sussex Border Path sign onto a grassy path straight ahead.
  37. [!]In 350m the Sussex Border Path leaves the car wide track and turns off towards the right.
  38. In 700m cross a road, go straight ahead and over a footbridge across the railway tracks.
  39. On the other side of the railway track turn left along the road for 10m and then turn off the road towards the right going steep uphill.
  40. In 350m the path joins the road downhill into Chalton. In 350m you reach the 16th century Red Lion Inn on your left.
  41. Take the path opposite the pub towards 13th century St Michael's church. Continue past the church (viewing recommended) and when coming out onto the field turn right with the footpath sign towards the top of Chalton Down. In 1.4km go through a gate and subsequently keep the trees on your right hand. Note St Hubert's church from the 11th century down in the valley on your left the only remnant of the village of Idsworth.
  42. In 410m cross a path at a footpath sign.
  43. In 410m when you come across a car wide gravel track at a footpath sign hidden in the trees on your right turn right following the Sussex Border path along the car wide gravel track through the line of trees.
  44. In 750m you come to a road where you turn left into Finchdean this side of the hedge. In 190m step onto the road and fork right with it. The George Inn is the last watering hole before Rowlands Castle.
  45. At the George Inn turn right along the road for 100m and then turn right uphill towards White Hill.
  46. In 350m leave the road following the footpath sign towards the left.
  47. In 900m turn right where the car wide track forks.
  48. In 200m where the road veers right turn left through houses on a public foot path.
  49. In 200m step out onto a road. Continue in the same direction and the follow the road as it veers right.
  50. In 300m turn left downhill and in another 100m turn left towards the station. The various tea options can be found by ignoring the left turn to the station and continuing on to the centre of Rowlands Castle.

Finish in Petersfield

  1. Continue in the same direction on the South Downs Way for 650m until you reach a road where you turn right.
  2. In 900m to come to an intersection where you join a footpath on the opposite side 900m until you reach a three-way road intersection where you follow the road opposite in northerly direction.
  3. In 500m go straight.
  4. In 90m fork left.
  5. In 1.1km at a T-junction continue on the path opposite into the woods.
  6. In 100m you come out into a field and continue along the edge of the wood for 400m or until you enter the next field.
  7. Here you turn right across the field towards a style on the other side.
  8. Cross the style and a concrete footbridge in 300m.
  9. Cross a style in 100m.
  10. Turn slightly left to a style in the distance.
  11. Continue by following the sequence of styles across a number of fields for 1.5km until you come to a road which you cross into the heath opposite. Continue along the direction of the path until you reach Heath Pond. Follow it around towards the left until you come out on a road. Cross the road and follow the road opposite into Petersfield and towards its station.
© 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