Walking

Walking trail

Wolstonbury Hill explore nature walk

Walking trail

These ancient slopes are a designated Special Site of Scientific Interest (SSSI) for their chalk grassland habitat that supports a rich diversity of flowers. This walk takes you through beech woodland at the base of the hill and across open grassland to the top of the hill. Upon reaching the summit, you'll be rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views of the weald, the sea and the downs, including Newtimber Hill and Devil's Dyke. This walk is best in spring when the bluebells and wild garlic can be found in the woodlands.

History of Wolstonbury Hill

Wolstonbury Hill has been an important landmark for thousands of years. Iron Age farmers grazed animals on its summit and the Romans left pottery remains on its slopes. In wartime Britain Winston Churchill and members of the war cabinet met at nearby Danny House and would allegedly visit the slopes of Wolstonbury for inspiration.

Delicate wild garlicflowers carpet the floor and fils the air with their deliciously pungent scent

Map

Map route for Wolstonbury Hill explore nature walk

Start:

Jack and Jill pub, Clayton, West Sussex, grid ref: TQ 29839 14240

1

Begin at the Jack and Jill pub. From the pub entrance turn right onto the main road (Brighton Road). Walk for approximately 20m and turn right onto New Way Lane and walk for 250m.

2

Turn left onto the public bridleway which is surfaced for 350m but could be muddy thereafter. Walk straight on and continue up the slope. You'll pass the National Trust Wolstonbury Hill signpost on your right (in spring the banks either side of the signpost are covered in bluebells). Continue walking up the slope for about 5 minutes (380m) until you reach a gate on your right.

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3

Go through the gate on your right (look out for nesting buzzards) and follow the left, sunken track down the hill (if it's boggy, take the higher track and walk up the steps to your left to the gulley). After approx 20m, turn left off the sunken track up the slope and follow the informal path at the top of the bank. Walk past the steps and continue following this track through a small gulley in an open cleared area until you reach three wooden posts ahead of you. Bear left at these posts and turn right through a gate onto a public bridleway. Follow the bridleway and go through the gate ahead of you.

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4

Continue along the bridleway for 6 minutes (270m). Cross the stile on your left and walk straight ahead along the bottom of the chalk quarry and up the chalky path to the quarry edge. Bear slightly right towards the trees in front of you across the grass. As you get closer you'll see a gate at the left corner of the woodland.

5

Go through the gate and take the path right of the large beech tree. Follow the path winding through the woods and continue walking down the slope. Walk between the large root plates of two fallen beech trees. Go down the steps; the path will bear left. At this corner is an example of box hedging planted as game cover over a century ago by the Danny Estate. In front of you on the right is a fallen yew growing into a hedge. Continue until you reach the bottom of the steep hill. At the bottom of the sloped path steps carry straight on until you reach a small half fence (to stop horses) and turn left onto the main bridleway. In a short distance a path leads to a stile to the right, visible from the fence.

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6

Cross the stile and take the right-hand path which crosses another stile and then follows the edge of the woodland. When you reach the open grassland, turn right, following the edge of the woodland. You will then reach a fork: go left uphill past a large sycamore tree. Continue walking uphill through the open woodland until you reach a stile.

7

Cross the stile and follow the path. (In May look out for thousands of cowslips on this slope. Also look out to your right and see Elizabethan Danny House, one of the largest houses in Sussex.) Continue to the yellow way-marker post and bear left. When you reach scrubby bushes turn left, heading towards the chalky mounds of the old Victorian chalk quarry, keeping them to your left. You'll then come to a ditch, keep on the left side of the fence and cross the ditch. Head uphill and bearing left. Walk up the chalky steps leading to a stile at the top of the hill.

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8

Cross the stile and walk straight uphill, keeping the chalk quarry to your left (from March listen out for skylarks). After a few minutes you'll enter the Bronze Age enclosure represented by a ditch and bank running around the top of the hill. Head towards the concrete trig point in the distance. When you reach the trig point, look ahead of you and you'll see the Jack and Jill windmills. Take in the breathtaking 360° panoramic view of the downs, the sea and weald. Head in the direction of the windmills, following the path downhill. Going downhill you should be able to see your trail route starting from the Jack and Jill pub in front of you.

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9

Cross over the stile that is left of the gate and walk for 4 minutes (170m) and bear left, heading towards the woodland. Walk with the woodland on your left until you reach a stile on the left in the woods.

10

Cross the stile and follow the path through the wood for 3 minutes (130 metres) (look out for wild garlic and bluebells in Spring). At the fork turn right (look out for the large beech tree on your right) and walk down the steps across the bridleway straight on the path until you reach a National Trust Wolstonbury Hill signpost on your right. Turn left at the signpost walking downhill and go through the gate following the gravel road. At the bottom of the road turn right onto New Way Lane and continue walking for 10 minutes (780 metres), at the bottom of the lane is your starting position at the Jack and Jill pub.

End:

Jack and Jill pub, Clayton, West Sussex, grid ref: TQ 29839 14240

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Wolstonbury Hill explore nature walk

Terrain

Terrain is steep in some places. Bridleways and paths can be extremely wet and muddy in winter or after periods of heavy rain. Dogs are welcome but please keep them on leads, as livestock are in surrounding fields. There are no dog bins so please take your dog litter home.

Wolstonbury Hill explore nature walk

Contact us

Wolstonbury Hill explore nature walk

How to get here

Address
Wolstonbury Hill, Pyecombe, Near Brighton, West Sussex
By train

Hassocks 1.2 miles (2km); 22-minute walk or 8-minute bus journey (40/40X).

By road

Jack and Jill pub just off the A23 on the A273 to Hassocks. Parking at the pub for patrons only. Alternative parking opposite pub at Clayton recreation ground (not NT), entrance on Underhill Lane (off Clayton Hill).

By foot

Pedestrian access from Hassocks and A273.

By bus

40 Brighton to Haywards Heath, 40X Brighton to Burgess Hill, 273 Brighton to Crawley.

Wolstonbury Hill explore nature walk

Facilities and access

  • Refreshments at the Jack and Jill pub