Bridle Road to Bignor walk
Slindon is our largest traditional estate on the South Downs; this circular walk captures its scale, depth and variety.
Explore the ancient estate on a winter afternoon stroll
Unusually, it's a really good winter walk, not just because it's mostly firm underfoot, but there are even more vistas that open up through the bare trees.
Opposite Slindon College (five-bar gate at bottom of Butt Lane), grid ref: SU959086
From the five-bar gate at the beginning of Butt Lane, walk steadily up towards Bignor Hill. Ignore the many left-hand tracks/turnings and either keep level, or go up-slope, and go straight or tend to the right. There will be trees or a hedge to your left, while to your right the view will frequently open out over fields and downs. There are several stiles on this part of the walk.
Around 2 miles (3.2 km) into the walk, the way re-enters rough woodland, opening up to your right again for the last few hundred yards up to Gumber Corner.
The sweep of 'The Gallops' will be to your right. At the top you'll meet an east-west bridleway at Gumber Corner (grid ref: SU969125), turn left, slightly downwards, on this track into mixed woodland.
View from Gumber Corner
Remarkable panoramic view from Gumber Corner, shaped like a natural racecourse and banked like a velodrome. Appears as 'Great Bottom' on the map, but is known locally as 'The Gallops'.
Continue for about 55yd (50m) along the path until you see, to your left, the fence, farm-gate and walkers' stile (and dog stile) at the top of Stane Street. There are mature ash and beech casting welcome shade in summer over a bench and grassy banks; a great picnic spot. You'll probably need to keep your dog on a lead down Stane Street, for much of the year it, and the neighbouring grassland, is grazed by sheep.
Dog stile on Stane Street
Look through the stile along the long, slow rise and fall across downland of the Roman Road (Stane Street) as it runs down towards Chichester. This stretch has lovely short rabbit and sheep-cropped turf - when it's warm you can take your boots and socks off and enjoy the pleasure of walking barefoot upon 2,000 years of history.
Continue South along Stane Street, mostly downhill, for about 1¼ miles (1.8km) heading for Eartham Woods. As you approach the woods, Stane Street is criss-crossed with old roots.
Slindon's glorious stretch of Roman Road runs for miles across the Downs.
Through mature beeches you reach a clearing at the 'Six-Ways' signpost (where eight ways now meet). Take the way to your left, with a 'no horses' sign to its right and a waymarker post to its left.
The 'Six-Ways' signpost stand where eight ways now converge. It's known locally as 'Shippams Poste', after the famous local family who donated it.
About 270yd (270m) after a Forestry Commission barrier partially crosses the way, turn right at a signpost to your right - the increasingly chalky way goes through a dip, which in Summer has a splendid show of the chalk-loving pyramidal orchid - then up the northern flank of Nore Hill.
The deep pink pyramidal orchid (anacamptis pyramidalis) is quite rare in Europe, except in unspoiled and chalk-rich sites, like Slindon.
Turn left and uphill at the next signpost. Follow the way up Nore Hill where it becomes a forestry track across its top.
Nore Hill beeches
We've been thinning here to let more light through to wild flowers and other woodland plants. We also deliberately leave piles of brush, logs and ring-barked standing trees to provide a rich habitat for wildlife. Even when newly-thinned and in the depths of winter, this walk through Slindon has its own beauty.
As you come into the open, take a moment to savour the view to your east, downwards and over the rich valley of Courthill Farm.
Keep the woods to your right for 220yd (200m) until Nore Hill Folly - there's a well-sited bench here to enjoy the panoramic views, way down to the sea.
Nore Hill Folly
You'll approach this post-Napoleonic War 'eye-catcher' folly through the woodland ride to its north - a great way to appreciate its setting in the landscape. It's especially dramatic towards sunset.
Take the farm track downhill, then at the T-junction adjacent Row's Barn turn away from it, down to your left.
Just past the farmyard to your left, turn right onto Nore Hill Lane. This takes you out onto Top Road, a few metres down from your starting point.
Junction of Nore Wood Lane and Top Road, near to where you started, grid ref: SU959086
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