There’s something about winter walks. Coats wrapped around us, woolly hats & muddy boots. Piles of colourful leaves and puddles to jump in. Frosty hillsides and then the welcome return to warmth by a cosy log fire with a roast dinner in the oven. The South Downs, with sweeping views, ancient forests and the ocean close by are a beautiful place to spend time in the cold months of the year. We’ve chosen a few of our favourite places to wander in the winter and the best pubs to warm up in afterwards.
The ancient yew trees of Kingley Vale, possibly the oldest living things in England, are mystical year round. Twisted trunks and roots seem to walk across the ground. Standing under them you’ll feel the presence of the ghostly warriors and witches who have long been associated with their dusky groves. Step out of their shade and you can strike out for the top of Bow Hill where ancient royals were laid to rest in the tumuli. It’s a rewarding stomp to get to the top and on a clear day you can see for miles out across the English Channel. There are many ways to reach the top, the closest to us and the easiest to navigate is from the main car park at West Stoke. Follow the path to the start of the nature reserve and head in following the path markers which will guide you around to some of the must see spots.
The drive to Levin Down will take you past Goodwood Racecourse, winding through country lanes through woods and farmland. Pass through the charming village of Charlton to the Fox Goes Free pub. A little before you reach the pub you’ll pass Levin Down on your left. Take the steep path through the field and up to the nature reserve. It’s a site of special scientific interest thanks to its fascinating community of plants, animals and funghi. From the top you’ll have views over the countryside. There are benches to sit on to take it all in. After you’ve explored head to the Fox Goes Free to toast your toes by the roaring fire and indulge in their fabulous menu.
Oakwood West Woods
You don’t need to have a car to enjoy
a winter walk. Our Oakwood West Woods are a short stroll away. The woods have a wide range of different habitats which we are gently working with to create wilded spaces that are enticing for all kinds of animal life.
You will almost certainly see a herd of deer foraging, perhaps bats flying overhead and maybe the owls calling.
There are gloriously tall pines rising out of beds of moss and majestic oaks to discover. Loop back to your snug holiday cottage to relax in your hot tub or to play games next to a toasty log burner.
There are two pubs within easy reach by foot of Oakwood West. Head to the Michelin guide rated Horse & Groom in East Ashling by taking the footpath through Oakwood West woods and across farmland with views of Kingley Vale. Step into the welcoming warmth of the Horse & Groom for some top-notch food or a pint of local ale. Return through the woods or if you’ve got a spring in your step extend your walk to go to West Ashling where you’ll find The Richmond Arms next to the picture-perfect mill pond. Perhaps indulge in another pint, once you’ve seen the menu you may find yourself making a dinner reservation. Chat with the locals and soak up Sussex life before taking the short walk back to Oakwood West past charming houses and farmland.
Often described as the most beautiful village in Sussex, Bosham is next to the sea and a five minute drive away from Oakwood West. Rich with history, wildlife, and of course cosy pubs. You can park close to the shore and then either take a longer walk around the bay with stunning views back to the village or walk across the green to the church and around the quaint houses. There’s also a craft market, full of local creativity and cafes, for cake and coffee. If you would like a longer walk you can explore the winding seafront of Chichester Harbour in either direction, there are farmland footpaths connecting the beach fronts. Head to the wetlands of Fishbourne or the idyllic Cobnor point. The whole area is an area of outstanding natural beauty and a delight to explore.
A traditional Sussex farming village, in a valley of the South Downs. Find the Hare & Hounds pub at the heart of village life. There are walks in every direction. You can walk up past the farm to Kingley Vale, explore the quiet Inholmes wood behind the church or wander in the beech woodlands. An OS map will show you that there are miles and miles of footpaths crisscrossing the hills. All with beautiful views to take it, with sloping hillsides a riot of colour in the autumn with the leaves of evergreen and deciduous trees. Discover ancient yews, picturesque ponds and twisting paths leading you through it all.
Dogs are welcome at almost all of our wonderful local pubs, so after your walk you can head in to warm up assured of a friendly welcome and roaring open fires.
Your welcome pack will show you the starting points of all of these walks and you’ll be greeted when you arrive by one of us and we can answer any questions that you may have.
Each of our cottages has a hot tub, which is a delightful spot for stargazing on a winter's eve and a log burning stove the perfect place to curl up after a day out on the Downs. Treat yourself to a winter break in West Sussex, you won’t be disappointed.