Things to see and do at Cissbury Ring

New Forest Ponies conservation grazing on CissburyRing

With breathtaking views in every direction and the feeling of being on top of the world Cissbury Ring is the perfect place to experience the wide-open spaces of the South Downs.

Walking and cycling

If you love the English countryside you are spoilt for choice here. Cissbury Ring is right in the middle of a network of bridleways and footpaths leading off in all directions. Just to the north is Monarch’s Way, Britain’s second-longest signed walking trail. It follows the escape route of Charles II after his defeat at the Battle of Worcester in 1651 and runs all the way from Worcester to Shoreham Harbour. Continue further north and you reach the South Downs Way.

Make Cissbury your destination. Worthing town centre is 5 km (3.2 miles) to the south, Findon is 1.8 km (1.2 miles) to the west, and Steyning is 4.8 km (3 miles) to the east. Alternatively, set out from Cissbury Ring and head to Chanctonbury Ring 3.8 km (2.4 miles) to the north.

These routes are best explored with a good map (OS Explorer OL10). Invest in one and put your map-reading skills to the test.

50 things to do before you're 11¾

If you've taken up our '50 things to do before you're 11¾' challenge there are plenty of things you can tick off your list at Cissbury Ring.

In just getting here you will 'climb a huge hill'. Once you're up at the top, you can 'roll down a really big hill' and tick off another thing.

Come up to Cissbury Ring to fly your kite. There is just so much sky here. There is plenty of room to run around so launch your kite and watch it soar.

There are birds to watch, bugs to hunt, and scary beasts to hold, and you'll find around 15 other things to tick off depending on the weather.

How many birds can you spot?
Children bird watching
How many birds can you spot?

Experiencing the past

There is a wealth of history to be found at this important archaeological site. A visit to Cissbury Ring will take you back thousands of years.

Step back to Neolithic times on the western side of the hill where you can see evidence of flint mining: the hollows of the pit shafts and the mounds of the spoil heaps.

Stroll around the ramparts of the Iron Age hill fort and you will begin to appreciate the scale of its construction and the effort needed to build it.

Look out to sea and you are standing in the footsteps of those who watched for enemy ships.

Imagine the isolation of the Second World War soldiers as they manned their anti-aircraft gun whilst fighting against the cold of a British winter.

Connecting with nature

You see chalk downland at its best when summer comes round. You can find orchids at Cissbury Ring on the banks outside the hill fort in early summer. By July many more chalk downland flowers will be blooming and attracting butterflies and insects to the open central area. Where you have insects you also have birds. Watch the skylarks take to the air and listen out for the ‘tapping’ call of stonechats as they perch in the gorse bushes.

In autumn the hill fort becomes a refuelling stop for migrating birds. Look out for the Ring Ouzel, a bird similar to a blackbird but with a white band across its chest. These birds are attracted to the berries of the yew trees on the western side. Bring your binoculars and you can also use them to zoom in on the magnificent views.

Witnessing conservation in action

Ponies help with our conservation work at Cissbury Ring
Ponies help with our conservation work at Cissbury Ring
Ponies help with our conservation work at Cissbury Ring

The characteristics of chalk downland were created by thousands of years of animal grazing and the best way to maintain this precious habitat is by continuing this practice. By introducing New Forest ponies to Cissbury we have already reduced the amount of unwanted scrub and gorse that would otherwise take over. Archaeological features are becoming more visible and the shorter grass will enable the important wild flowers to grow more vigorously.

Not only are the ponies doing a good job they are also popular with visitors but please don’t feed them otherwise they won’t eat the grass.