South Downs Black Down Temple of the Winds walk
Black Down, Tennyson's Lane, Haslemere, GU27Route details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
Alfred Lord Tennyson fell in love with the Black Down Hills and would stride out through the heather, wrapped in his cloak. Follow in his footsteps and walk through the Black Down's beautiful woodland and heathland.
The walk goes to the Temple of the Winds, named after a Bronze Age circular bank. Here you can find one of the best views of the South Downs National Park. This little-known spot has a secret feel and a charming curved stone seat to rest on.
- Bus stop
Start: Tennyson's Lane main National Trust car park, OS grid ref: SU9179231186
Follow the track up from the car park on Tennyson’s Lane and make your way through a gate onto Black Down. Following the track up, you will pass our donation box and notice board, where we post details of our events. In autumn, the steep banks on either side of the track are strewn with bilberries and blackberries.
At the fork bear right and after approximately 50m look on your right for views of open heathland to the south. Soon after, bear right once again. On your right you will see one of our many bog ponds.
Our many bog ponds are a haven for dragonflies and damselflies, including the rare black darter dragonfly. As the ground on either side of the track opens up you will see fauna characteristic of heathland such as gorse, heather and silver birch.
Continuing along the track, you will once again be surrounded by Scots pine and rowan (mountain ash), which are staples of heathland fauna. Bear left at the next junction up a slight incline. The track then gently meanders left then right, where you will pass a bench and a mark stone remembering Tom Clark. It’s a great spot to stop and admire the view, surrounded by the heather.
Follow the track along and past another bench on your left beneath a wonderfully mature Scots pine. The path winds this way and that, and as it opens up to the right (south) you will see another bench, an excellent spot from which to gaze across Cotchett Valley.
If you are lucky you may glimpse the pair of ravens that have been spotted there, distinguishable by their large size and unique calls. Opening up to the left once again you will see a habitat perfect for the elusive sand lizard. They were introduced to Black Down several years ago and have since been spotted hiding amongst the rocks. The male has brilliant green markings.
Continue along the main track and up a slight incline and to the left, heading north, towards the most impressive viewpoint on Black Down: the wonderfully named Temple of the Winds. You will reach a three-pointed junction before long. Go due north for the temple and make your way between two straight and true Scot’s pines, following the track as it bears right. It's a short walk further to reach the Temple of the Winds.
Although common land, Black Down was the property of various landowners until WE Hunter donated it to us in 1948, as a memorial to his wife. The Hunters are remembered by an inscribed stone seat at the Temple of the Winds, the most impressive viewpoint on Black Down.
Having enjoyed the view, retrace your steps and bear right on the track just before you reach the straight and true Scot’s pines and follow it down onto the woodland track towards the beech hanger woodland. Depending on the time of year, as you approach the hanger, you will pass on your right one of our ponds, which comes and goes as it pleases.
You will know you are in the beech hanger, not just by the beech trees with their marvellously winding roots that sit on the earth like writhing dragons' tails, but by the dramatic slope as it falls away to your right. Avoid the temptation to bear left up a slight incline and continue along the main track. Once out of the hanger, the track makes its way slightly to the left and you will soon find yourself once more looking upon open heathland.
Pass another pond on your left as the canopy opens up. Follow the track along and bear right, down the smaller of the two tracks, as you head for home. Journey down past the bilberries and blackberries once more and a short walk further you will spy our notice board, back at the start.
End: Tennyson's Lane main National Trust car park, OS grid ref: SU9179231186
- Trail: Walking
- Grade: Easy
- Distance: 2 miles (3.2km)
- Time: 1 hour 30 mins
- OS Map: Explorer 133
Can be muddy underfoot in winter. Sandy heathland paths, some small ascents and descents. Well-behaved dogs on leads welcome, livestock grazing throughout the year. No dog bins, so please take away all waste.
- How to get here:
By train: Haslemere 2 miles (3.2km), good links with London and Portsmouth.
By road: 2 miles (3.2km) from A3, Haslemere can be accessed via A286 and A287. Head out of Haslemere on B2131, turn right up Haste Hill, follow onto Tennyson's Lane and head south-west until you come to the main free NT car park (GU27 3AF). Parking: Two free car parks on Tennyson's Lane: Main car park (SU921309) 30 spaces; lower car park (SU923306) 10 spaces. Not suitable for coaches. Other free car parks in the area.
By foot: Take B2131 out of Haslemere, right up Haste Hill and follow onto Tennyson's Lane, then head south-west until you come to the main car park (NT). Footpaths link to nearby Sussex Border Path and Greensand Way.
By bus: Bus services to Haslemere; see Surrey County Council for timetables. Tennyson's Lane is half a mile (0.8km) up hill. Take the B2131 out of Haslemere, turn right up Haste Hill, follow this onto Tennyson's Lane and head south-west until you come to the main car park (NT).
By cycle: Black Down is ideal for cycling with numerous easy going bridleways or challenging terrain for the more bold. Head out of Haslemere on the B2131, turn right up Haste Hill, follow this onto Tennyson's Lane and head south-west until you come to the main car park (NT). Surrey Cycle Route goes through Haslemere.
In Haslemere, 2 miles (3.2km) away:
- a good selection of shops, restaurants, cafés and pubs
- public toilet facilities (not NT)
- Contact us