Days out at Bignor Top

View East from Bignor Hill at dawn

At the most northerly tip of the estate you will find two of the highest points, Bignor Hill with views down into the Arun Valley, and Glatting Beacon, adorned with radio masts, making it a prominent local landmark. With a hill top car park, Bignor is an ideal location to enjoy dark skies and star sprinkled nights, as you stand atop the Bronze Age burial mounds to admire the far reaching views.

‘A dream of beauty….’
Slindon Estate is 3500 acres of Sussex woodland, farmland, downland and pretty village all divided by paths, hedges, lanes and tracks. You can explore the estate by 25 miles of public footpaths and bridleways as well as over 900 acres of open access woodland.  Whatever the season, take in the long wide views down to the Weald, along the Downs, and out across the coastal plain to the sea.

Walking

Dog walking
Dog walking on a lead
Dog walking

With over 25 miles of public rights of way, there are plenty of walks to suit all ages and abilities. From hazel-shaded lanes and neatly cultivated fields to woodland and hedgerows, every season brings a new delight to the walks. There are countless places and excuses to stop and stare.
 

Cycling and horse riding

Having fun cycling on a sunny day...
Image of boy cycling
Having fun cycling on a sunny day...

Slindon’s many bridleways and leafy lanes provide numerous circular routes for cyclists and horse riders alike. The village is a great place to park and start your mountain bike adventure up on to the downs. And the Forestry Commission car park at Eartham is perfect to unload your horse, ready to ride the trails.

Wonderful wildlife

Bignor has a wonderful diversity of habitats which makes it a haven for wildlife. 

Hay meadows

Peacock Butterfly
Peacock Butterfly
Peacock Butterfly

Meadows support a wide array of wildflowers and grasses making them very important to pollinating insects. Bees and butterflies are among the hundreds of insects that visit the flowers for nectar. They are managed by taking a hay cut each year, and are unimproved by fertilisers.

Hedgerows

The networks of hedgerows that divide the fields provide food and shelter for birds, insects and small mammals, as well as a protective corridor.

Chalk heath

Flowering heather attracts bees and other insects
Flowering heather against sky
Flowering heather attracts bees and other insects

This rare habitat is a mix of chalk grassland and heathland. It tends to occur at the tops of chalk hills, where a thin layer or cap of clay sits on top. The area around Bignor Hill car park is a fine example. This results in a mixture of alkaline and acid loving plants living side by side.

Chalk grassland

Slindon folly, built in 1814 for the Countess of Newburgh's picnic parties
Slindon folly, built in 1814 for the Countess of Newburgh's picnic parties
Slindon folly, built in 1814 for the Countess of Newburgh's picnic parties

Chalk grassland is a nationally rare habitat, formed by years of traditionally grazing by sheep and cattle. At Slindon it can be found at Bignor Hill, Downes Barn and around The Folly. It provides a rich mix of grasses and wild flowers, which benefit a range of wildlife such as butterflies.

Dewpond

The azure blue damselfly is sometimes spotted by garden ponds
Azure blue damselfly resting on green leaf
The azure blue damselfly is sometimes spotted by garden ponds


These ponds are a visible link to the past on the South Downs. They were originally created as watering holes for sheep, but are now incredibly important wildlife sites in an otherwise dry landscape.  They attract wetland species inclduing damsel and dragonfiles, and water locing plants.

The dewpond was restored in 2014, using traditional clay and straw.  Money was raised in memory of the late local artist Peter Iden, by his friends and family as this was one of his favourite spots on the Downs.  When Peter died, the family wanted to organise a permanent memorial to him, and were kind enough to fund this restoration project.  It was an area that Peter loved, and which had featured in his paintings, it would enhance the landscape as well as benefiting wildlife, and the bench would will give walkers somewhere to rest for a while.
 Many friends and relations contributed to the appeal which raised over £5000. The main work was carried out in Summer 2014. We are continuing to improve the area, at present concentrating on the meadow area round the pond, which we hope to restore to chalk grassland.

Visit information

How to get here

There is a car park at Bignor Top.  Going south along the A29, turn left at Bury, follow signs to Bignor Roman Villa. Pass Bignor Roman Villa to your right, slant left, then turn left onto a lane between a small thatched barn to your left and a substantial farmhouse with outbuildings to your right called 'Jay's Farm'  This unclassifed road, narrow and patchily surfaced, runs uphill for around 1.2 miles (1.8km) to end.  Parking is free for National Trust members. For GPS users, the postcode for Bignor Roman Villa is RH20 1PH. 

Facilities

Toilets on the estate can be found at Gumber Bothy (mid March to end of October only).  Refreshments can be found at Bignor Roman Villa (not NT, March to October) approx 2km walk, or at the The Forge in Slindon