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1 - From the centre of Steyning, opposite the Clockhouse and beside the bus stop, walk north-west along the High Street, left from the short-stay car park and shelter.
Steyning already existed in the late 8th century when St Cuthman arrived, pulling a handcart that held his ailing mum. In early medieval times there was a royal mint and a busy inland port on the nearby River Adur. The Grammar School was established in the 17th century and still exists as a successful comprehensive school. The town has had an important role in the development of Sussex and continues to be a popular and bustling community.
When opposite Tanyard Lane, in 200 yards, turn left up a narrow twitten, between houses. At the top of the climb, with flint cottages opposite, turn right along Charlton Street, sweeping left and passing an industrial unit.
With a bungalow called Downlands ahead, take the footpath on the left that passes a bowling green, over the hedge on the left. The footpath rises ahead, between hedgerow, passing allotments and coming to a gate. Pass through, noting the downland reclamation project on the right, and continue up the rising path. The path emerges from the hedgerow to arrive at the edge of a cleared hillside above Steyning Coombe.
2 - Enter the cleared Downland, continuing a steeper ascent across an open access area for 350 yards, with views across the rooftops of Steyning and to the Adur valley.
From the top of the open access area, re-enter woodland through a kissing gate above the coombe, joining a bank-top bridleway coming from the right. Continue ahead as the path levels-off, passing around the western end of the steep coombe, with the trees of the hanger stabilising the hillside. A bridleway joins from the right at the midway point, and our route continues ahead.
On clearing the woodland the path arrives at a three-way bridleway junction, part of Steyning Round Hill – take the right turn up the slope. The bank on the left, as you climb the path, is part of a cross dyke, one of those boundary markers from ancient times. Pass across the top of the hill, the high point of the walk, and descend to a junction of five tracks which includes the South Downs Way.
3 - Ahead is the memorial to a well-known local farmer and our continuing route descends ahead on the South Downs Way, taking none of the side turnings from the junction. Follow the wide track down the hill for 300 yards and, when close to the hilltop road, cross left to the opposite side and there turn right above Steyning Bowl, which is down to the left. In 200 yards cross over a farm access track and proceed ahead through a bridle gate to continue along the fence-side path, passing two thoughtfully positioned benches, which make an ideal stopping point on a clear day. On arrival at a bridle gate after a third of a mile, pass through and turn left.
4 - The route now follows the left fenceline to a corner and then veers slightly right, climbing a gradual rise across Annington Hill to a bridle gate – there is a copse off to the left. The bridleway begins a slow descent above Winding Bottom, which is down to the right, before passing through a gate and going down a hedge-enclosed track for 150 yards to join a driveway and turning left – there is a cottage off to the right. Follow the driveway to the minor Annington Road, and turn right. Keep to the roadside for about a third of a mile, passing local cottages and restored barns, crossing to an enclosed footpath, just after Annington Farm, to a small parking area at Botolphs.
Go left through the scrub to a junction of tracks, with the Downs Link bridleway joining the South Downs Way. Walk ahead on a path that soon arrives beside the River Adur and turn right, passing left over a bridge and at its far side turn left on to a footpath.
5 - The path follows twists and turns beside the river for nearly half a mile, passing beneath a road bridge and, in about 100 yards, skirting around an inlet that once provided mooring. Continue on the riverside path, behind houses in the village of Upper Beeding.
On arriving at Beeding Bridge, cross the road to the northbound riverside footpath, passing through a gate in 200 yards and continuing along the riverbank. Off to the right, as you traverse the path, are mounds that are remnants of the saltpans that once existed in the area, salt being a valuable commodity that was used in the preservation of food. In half a mile go left, over a footbridge and at the far side take a quarter-right line across the flood plain to a field corner in hedgerow, behind houses, on the outskirts of Steyning. Cross a stile to arrive at a junction of local roads, taking a few paces right and then turning left along Kings Barn Lane. In about a quarter of a mile the road crosses a bridge above the Steyning bypass, with clues off to the right in the Railway Cottages that would have stood near the line of the former Horsham to Shoreham railway. In 100 yards turn right down Cripps Lane and then climb Vicarage Lane beside the church of St Andrew on the right. It’s worth a visit to appreciate its architecture and grand interior proportions.
Across the road from the church is Steyning Museum, a visit to which will fill in any gaps you may have about the history of this important Sussex community. From the museum follow Church Street back to the High Street, turning right to our starting point.
*Distance/Time: Seven and a half miles, taking three and a half hours
*By Car: Steyning town centre is west, off the A283 at the Bramber roundabout. Short-term parking at start point or longer-term parking in Tanyards Lane, with easy access to the High Street. Start point Grid Ref. TQ176113
*By Public Transport: Travel details from www.traveline.info, phone 0871 2002233. Bus service to Steyning town centre and starting point
*What’s underfoot: A steep climb at the start and then pleasant hilltops and descent, finishing with a riverside stroll
*Thirsty Work: Teashops and pubs in Steyning High Street
*So you don’t get lost: OS Explorer maps 122 and 121, plus a compass for general direction
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