If you enjoy walking and visiting historic sites, this itinerary is for you. When your legs can’t take any more, relax with a spot of vintage shopping, fine food and drink in a pretty West Sussex village
Ideal for: Couples, families, friends
Interests: Walking, nature, villages, shopping, food & drink
Main areas: Hassocks, Clayton, Albourne, Hurstpierpoint
- The circular walk to Wolstonbury Hill, situated in Clayton near Pyecombe, takes in woodland, fields, country tracks, bridleways and stunning views. At just under four miles, the walk takes around two hours and is a mixture of flat, muddy tracks and a steep hillside climb as you approach the top. If coming by train, Hassocks is the closest station to Clayton. Hop off here, pick up some picnic items from Proper Cycling & Coffee in the high street and make your way to the Jack & Jill pub on the A273 – the National Trust walking trail is just off the lane beside the pub.
- The ancient slopes are a designated Special Site of Scientific Interest (SSSI) for their chalk grassland habitat and in spring time you’ll find carpets of bluebells and wild garlic in the woodland nestling at the bottom of the slopes. There are also numerous rope swings in the forest that are great fun for children (and grown-ups) to swing on.
- Once at the top of Wolstonbury Hill, you’ll be rewarded by spectacular views across to Devil’s Dyke, the South Downs and Newtimber Hill. On a clear day you might even see the sea; visit on a misty day and the slopes take on a mysterious air and it feels like you could be walking above the clouds.
- The circular route takes you back down the hill to the A273. Cross the road and you’ll find yourself walking up a steep hill to the famous Jack & Jill windmills. These perfectly preserved 19th century windmills are a romantic, enduring West Sussex sight that should not be missed. From 2-5pm on most Sundays between May and September, visitors can seize the opportunity to step back more than 100 years and take a look around Jill, an authentic working corn windmill. There’s a tea shop if you’re feeling thirsty and a picnic area with far-reaching views across the South Downs.
- Wickwoods Country Club, Hotel & Spa is a great place to bed down for the night and enjoy some much needed rest and relaxation after a busy day taking in the walking routes of the South Downs. Situated in Albourne, 10 minutes down the road from Clayton, you can swim, sleep, eat and refuel ready for day two.
- Today it’s time to kick back, eat and browse the small, independent businesses that West Sussex is famous for. After a late, leisurely breakfast and morning swim, why not head to the Bedlam Brewery in Albourne for a tour and tasting? Within walking distance of the hotel, Bedlam is fast becoming a force to be reckoned with in the brewing world so it’s certainly worth stopping off here.
- Then it’s on to the quintessential Sussex village of Hurstpierpoint, just 10 minutes down the road by car or taxi. Lovers of vintage clothing and homewares can enjoy searching for one-off finds in the vintage-inspired shops and cafes, Bradshaw & Lloyd stocks a handpicked selection of British-made shoes and South Down Cellars has a tempting range of wines and spirits produced by local wineries and breweries.
- End your trip with early supper at The Fig Tree. Owned by husband and wife team, James and Jodie Dearden, this restaurant in Hurstpierpoint high street is making waves amongst the locals. James is a highly skilled and keenly regarded chef – he previously worked at Michelin-starred Ockenden Manor in Cuckfield and was also head chef at the Ginger Fox just down the road – so you can expect excellent food.
- It’s time to head back to the train station – if visiting from London, the transport connections are excellent and you’ll be back in the city in just under an hour, no doubt already planning your next visit.