Stoughton and Kingley Vale – an area of West Sussex offering ancient yew woodland, Bronze Age burial mounds and spectacular sea views. Perfect for a slightly spooky autumn walk.

1. From the green near St Mary’s Church (a Saxon church dating from 1050 and well worth a visit), walk along the road, passing The Hare and Hounds pub on the left. At the cottages named Old Bartons turn right onto the public footpath, which is part of the Monarch’s Way.

Just past the large barn with farm equipment follow the path to the left. The Monarch’s Way leads through open farmland passing cattle barns and old milking sheds.

2. Approximately 500 yards after the cow barns the bridleway goes off to the left. Continue straight ahead. After a further 200 yards the path begins to steepen as you climb towards Stoughton Down.

Near to the top of the hill the path narrows. Fine views can be seen back down the valley. There’s even a handy bench to enjoy them from. Approximately 100 yards after the bench there is a crossroads. Go right here and follow the path with woods to your left and views to your right.

When you reach a fork in the track, take the left hand bridleway through the woodland. As you emerge from the woods, continue straight ahead along the narrow windy bridleway.

3. Soon, you’ll come to a crossroads with spectacular views across to the coast. There is a notice board here providing information on Kingley Vale. From the notice board take the right hand path.

After approximately 300 yards you pass a gate with a stile. There is a bench under a tree which makes an ideal stopping point for a drink and a bite to eat. Here you can enjoy more stunning views across Kingley Vale to the harbours and sea beyond.

Heading back to the bridleway from the stopping point, continue in the direction you were travelling in. You will soon reach the devil’s humps – a group of Bronze Age burial mounds.

4. At the devil’s humps turn left onto path directly opposite them (which doubles back downhill). The views out across Kingley Vale will now be to the right. After approximately 100 yards pass through the gate into Kingley Vale National Nature Reserve, one of the first national nature reserves in the country. Follow the lower footpath (this path follows the nature trail in reverse), continuing straight ahead through yew woodland.

This chalky path (which can be slippery) skirts the valley providing panoramic views. When you come to a small clearing among the yew trees the path forks. Take the right hand path which goes steeply downhill. Follow the path through the yew woodland until you reach an un-numbered post for the nature trail. The path splits in two here – turn right onto the wider path through the yew woods.

5. After a short distance this path leads you out to the valley. Continue downhill towards a small pond. Just after the pond take the path going off to the left. This path leads to a grove of ancient yew trees, some of them thought to be upwards of 1000 years old. Several legends tell of the origins of these trees. Some think they were planted to commemorate dead Viking warriors while others believe they grew during the ‘black death’ in 1348 when there were not enough people to farm the land. Whatever the reason they are certainly fascinating. Emerging from the ancient yew tree grove, there is a T junction – go left here and follow the path straight ahead for approximately 400 yards. The trail broadens out as you pass a small visitor centre on the left.

6. Pass through the set of gates just beyond the visitor centre and take the bridleway to the right. After approximately 100 yards take the well surfaced bridleway to the right. This bridleway climbs steadily for some distance. As an excuse for a rest on the way up stop and enjoy views across to Chichester.

Just after the information board and entrance into the nature reserve the path forks. Take the left hand bridleway which continues uphill skirting fields with more views over to Portsmouth on your left before heading into woodland.

7. Soon after entering the woods you come to a junction. Take the bridleway to the right (uphill again I’m afraid). Shortly after, the trees open out. Continue uphill along the bridleway with trees to the right and a field on the left.

After another short distance there is a bridleway to the right. Ignore this and walk straight ahead. This is soon followed by another bridleway on the right – again, ignore this turning and continue on.

The bridleway then re-enters the woodland and descends steeply downhill. Follow the broad stony track until you get to the end of the woods where the village of Stoughton comes into view. Continue along the bridleway until you arrive at the village.

Essential information

Distance/Time: A circular walk of nearly six miles, taking three and a quarter hours.
By car: From Chichester take the A286 and then join the B2178 heading north west. After five miles join the B2146 which takes you to Stoughton village. Parking available by the green near St Mary’s Church or on the road by the Hare and Hounds pub. Stoughton Hare and Hounds pub Grid Ref SU 8031911517.
By public transport: Chichester is the nearest rail station. Buses no longer run to Stoughton but do go to the nearby village of Walderton. Stoughton is a 25 minute walk from there. Travel details at,, phone 0871 200 2233.
What’s Underfoot: Much of the walk is on chalk paths and bridleways - some of these can become slippery in wet weather. There are lots of hills both at the beginning and towards the end of the walk so walkers need to be physically fit. 
Thirsty work: The Hare and Hounds pub - where the walk begins and ends.
So you don’t get lost: OS Explorer map 120, plus a compass for general direction.