Posted 23 November 2012 by Andrew Gardner
A couple of weeks ago we revisited one of our favourite West Sussex walks over Chanctonbury Hill. If you're staying in one of the local villages I'm sure you'll have discovered it by now - and if you're based in one of our lovely cottages in other parts of Sussex, it's easy to access as it's not far from the A24, the London to Worthing road. .
This time we took the path that winds up through glorious woods from the north side - it's a fair climb but not too long, and the footing is good. After about 15-20 minutes you reach the South Downs Way and a good view of the famous Chanctonbury Ring. This circle of beautiful trees is planted on the site of an iron age hill fort and although it's not the original, which was destroyed by the infamous storm of 1987, it's looking beautiful now with its autumn colours. Neolithic flint work and Bronze Age pottery have been found there and the site also contains some Roman remains - there was almost certainly a temple, with some other buildings that archaeologists haven't been able to identify.
Naturally there are local legends surrounding Chanctonbury Ring, inevitably involving the devil: some say the hill was created by earth from the devil's spade when he dug out the Devil's Dyke, others that you can invoke him by running round in various directions at various times of day or night and he'll offer you a bowl of porridge, which you definitely shouldn't accept. Now, is it just me or is someone getting confused with the Three Bears here?
Anyway, back to the walk: we headed east towards Bramber, enjoying the stunning views to sea and inland, joined the Monarch's Way for a while then retraced our steps on that part and looped back along the base of the hill. It took just under three hours, with a stop of about 15 minutes en route, and if you're reasonably fit it's easy, pretty walking. For an easier option, or a picnic with the family, a stroll around the ring itself is rewarding and there's plenty of space for kids to run around.