Vincent Hallett's circular downland walk climbs Bury Hill following the South Downs Way before descending from Westburton Hill into West Burton.



• Bury village crossroads marks the start of this walk at the intersection of The Street, Houghton Lane and Church Lane. Before proceeding down Church Lane towards the river, locate Bury House in The Street where the English novelist and playwright John Galsworthy, author of the Forsyte Saga, chose to spend the last seven years of his life. A historic black and white WSCC signpost points the way to the “church and river ferry closed”. At the end of the lane bypass the church because there will be an opportunity later to visit and head for the information board at the start of the grassed area known as Bury Wharf. You will have just passed timber framed Jasamine Cottage on the right, the original home of workers that once plied a ferry service between Bury and Amberley. Walk up onto the river embankment, turn right and follow the Arun south. Shortly two stiles are crossed with the permission of River House. Continue along the raised river bank for ½ mile, going through two new squeeze gates. Before a prominent arched pedestrian river footbridge is reached, at a left sweep of the river, drop down off the bank to join the South Downs Way, SDW, through a gate at a right pointing finger post. Walk around one and half sides of a field where the footpath then goes left through a gate between two fields and crosses Houghton Lane.

• A wide winding chalk track ascends Bury Hill. The way steepens with fine views back towards Bury, Amberley and the Arun Valley. On a clear day the North Downs are visible in the far distance. The track levels off where Coombe Wood commences and forms the right hand boundary to the track from here to the A29. Cross this busy fast main road with great care and turn right along the pavement for 100 yards, where the SDW strikes out left up a deeply rutted climbing chalk track. At woodland ahead, a four-way finger post indicates the SDW continues slightly right. It is evident that permitted vehicles have frequently used this section of the Way exposing chalk and flint underfoot. The route undulates with higher ground right and a distant land mark of the communication masts at Burton Down left. At points along this 1 mile straight section of downland walking, the headland of Culver Down on the Isle of Wight across the Solent can be seen. Where the footpath starts to go down between Westburton Hill and Bignor Hill a complex of three large corrugated sheet clad barns comes into sight.

• Just behind the barns there is a 4-way finger post. Leave the SDW and take the marked public bridleway right, initially in front of a small field, keeping a fence left and enter woodland below Egg Bottom Coppice. The bridleway is cut into the hillside with a high side right and a steep drop to the left. It passes through a grove of ancient yew trees. This route descends quickly and meets a joining track left at the bottom of the hill by a finger post, indicating the way forward. Glance into the field right at a belvedere folly constructed two generations ago by a local family for sanctuary. Continue along the track until it meets a road by the picture postcard Fogdens adjacent a stream. This is West Burton. Turn right along the road, ignoring the footpath sign pointing left. In 75 yards turn left at a junction with a Holly Tree in a triangular island and then in 70 yards turn right by Dale House that leads to a junction with West Burton Lane in a further 150 yards. Turn left and immediately ahead on the right is the imposing 16th Cookes House, grade II* listed with a Cedar of Lebanon by the gate. Originally known as Halls Place, Margaret Hall married Richard Cook and the house may have been built by them about 1588.

• Behind Cokes Barn a finger post indicates a footpath right. At first this is an access to properties but diverts to the right alongside a brick wall as the route returns to open country. Go along an enclosed path over four stiles with pastures both sides. Traverse right across grass to a footbridge with stiles at each end then almost immediately cross another stile and take a rising path into trees and along a ridge with boundary fences on the right-hand side. Look for the memorial to Fred Hughes who worked the fields and build the nearby farm, his wife Winifred and the seat dedicated to Ian Hughes. A stile leads across an open field to a squeeze gate and then left to the A29. Take care crossing and proceed back into Bury up the gated footpath opposite. Go across The Street and The Hollow by a pretty thatched cottage left. The footpath is indicated ahead and veers to the right at Prattendens Farm. At a three-way finger post keep right to reach a field edge at the end of which the path dives through a high hedge alongside Dorset House School. Where the path meets the school drive a marker post shows the way through the school gates and then right between a school building and playground marked by a finger post on the left hand bank. A short distance along a narrow concrete path and unmade ground go over a lowered section of flint wall into the churchyard St. John the Evangelist. The church is dominated by a 12th Century tower with a cedar-shingled spire and is worth looking inside. Leave the churchyard and return right up Church Lane back to the village crossroads.


• DISTANCE/TIME: Six miles, taking three hours.
• BY CAR: Park on the road in Bury near to the village crossroads. TQ011132.
• BY PUBLIC TRANSPORT: Compass bus 73, stop; Squire and Horse. Limited service.
• WHAT’S UNDERFOOT: Downland walking on chalk / flint tracks. Low level and riverbank sections easy paths. A number stiles with steady climb up Bury Hill. Steep descent into West Burton.  
• THIRSTY WORK: The Squire and Horse, Bury Common.
• SO YOU DON’T GET LOST: OS Landranger 197 Chichester & the South Downs. OS Explorer map 121.

For a downloadable PDF version of the map, see the website