1 - From beside The Frankland Arms pub on the Washington Bostal road, once the London Road through the village, head south along the pavement for 300 yards and turn right into The Street.

Climb up the village street between cottages, some of which give clues to the occupations of earlier residents. Pass by various turnings and walk towards the church of St Mary.

Continue past the church and cross the road bridge above the busy A24 London Road. Keep direction beneath the trees, with strong seasonal pungency from the wild garlic growing in the woodland on the right. Descend to a fork in the bridleway and take the right option, signposted to Rowdell.

2 - In 200 yards, beside buildings, turn left between rhododendron bushes and in a few paces, while still beneath the bushes, turn right (blue arrow) on the bridleway. The track soon takes right and left turns, continuing on an enclosed section for 100 yards, turning left for a few paces and resuming a westerly direction along a right field-edge.

The wooded Downs of Rowdell Holt are off to the left and the bridleway continues for half a mile, climbing towards gates and a junction of tracks at Barns Farm. Walk ahead between fences and outbuildings beneath bushes for 300 yards to arrive at crossing horse gallops.

Cross over the gallops, with caution, and divert right through a gate, following the field edge for a few paces and then turning left along the field edge for 350 yards to arrive at a crossing track at Sullington.

3 - To the right are the buildings of Sullington Manor Farm, many of them displaying an ancient heritage, with open-fronted buildings and a huge clapperboard storage barn, perhaps used to store the tithes that were payable to the great and good of earlier times.

The most notable building is the village church of St Mary, with the foundations of its tower indicating a Saxon structure and the long, tall nave being a further clue to an 11th-century origin. The ancient yew in the churchyard pre-dates even the church and the tomb of a knight in armour, inside the building, is said to that of Sir William de Covert, possibly a participant in the Third Crusade, of the 12th century.

Diagonally opposite the church is the lychgate that leads to the tranquil churchyard, a resting place for the many generations who have lived and tilled the soil in this idyllic landscape.

4 - Return to our arrival point and follow the wide, chalky track that heads south towards the South Downs.

The summit of Sullington Hill, with evidence of field systems and a boundary-marking cross dyke can be seen to the half-right, and in 350 yards the track arrives at the foot of the scarp slope, entering the hanger tree line to begin an ascent. The surfaced trackway bears left and right, passing minor quarrying excavations and a water pumping station to arrive at Hill Barn.

From the three-way signpost continue ahead on the main track, which now climbs on a lower gradient, between banks, with the deep, sheltering coombe of Sullington down to the left and the rising hillside to the right. (If, when at Hill Barn, the temptation to take the right branch on the bridleway proves to be overwhelming, you may follow this on a steeper ascent, passing the field systems and close to the cross dyke – keep to the bridleway and we’ll meet at the top. This variant is not advised for baby buggies.)

The recommended route follows the contours of the hillside, finally bearing left and heading towards a trackside fence on the skyline.

5 - The crossing track is the South Downs Way (SDW) and off to the left is an open-sided barn – a welcome shelter on a blustery or rainy day.

Turn left, eastward, on the SDW, following the slow rise to a high point on Barnsfarm Hill. The long-distance SDW passes through a bridle gate and in 300 yards passes by a left turning – a variant route for the SDW. (This turning is advised for walkers with a baby buggy or baby backpack, as the turning off at point 6 follows a steep and slippery descent route. Turn left down Barnsfarm Hill on the wide track that leads to Rowdell and turn right, back to Washington.)

Keep direction ahead on the main track, starting a slow descent towards Biggen Holt and passing by the faint remains of a cross dyke and a mysterious, large steel and concrete foundation in the field on the left. When near the holt the path passes beneath trees and in about 100 yards comes to a gate and signpost.

6 - Leave the SDW, taking the left turn (yellow arrow) down through the woodland. The path twists its way, generally bearing right, through the trees on rough steps and a path that can be slippery after wet weather. A final right turn leads to a left-branching gully in about 75 yards. Follow this to cross over the end of a valley and then climb steeply on steps, with the embankment and the sound of the busy A24 road off to the right.

The path levels off after the climb and heads for a stile giving entrance to a meadow. Walk to the right corner of the field, crossing a stile and turning right on to the bridge used at the start of the walk.

Continue past the church in Washington and in about 150 yards turn left down School Lane. The residential road soon passes the building that gave the street its name and then bears right beside the village recreation ground. The lane then bears right again, bringing you back, fortuitously, to The Frankland Arms.

  • Distance/Time: Five miles taking two and a half hours, same for baby-buggy variant
  • By Car: Turn south from the A283, or east from Washington roundabout on the A24, and follow signs for Washington village, parking on old London Road or The Pike. Start point grid reference: TQ123130
  • By Public Transport: Take the Stagecoach South 700 from Brighton to Worthing, change to Metrobus 23 for Washington and alight at the Recreation Ground bus stop. Travel details from www.traveline.info or 0871 2002233
  • What’s underfoot: Downland scarp foot walking and a climb on well-graded bridleway to South Downs Way with a steep descent at stage six. Possible with a baby backpack and an off-road baby buggy (steepish ascent and a short, bumpy field ride). Be sure to take variant route at end of stage five for a less difficult descent
  • Thirsty Work: The Frankland Arms in Washington village
  • So you don’t get lost: OS Explorer map 121, plus a compass for general direction

Click here for a full-sized map of the Washington to Sullington walk