When the winter-wet makes the Weald a boggy place for walkers to venture, the relief of the well-drained paths across the South Downs are most acceptable alternative walking territory. On this walk we venture from the coastal plain at the northern edge of Worthing, up on to the lower slopes of the Downs, climbing all the time on a well-graded path, to the ever-prominent Cissbury Ring – perhaps the regional capital of ancient times.

1 From a mid-point on the section of the A24 road, between the Broadwater and Findon valley roundabouts, locate the public bridleway on the north side of the road. The position is identifiable by the large, white pillar, inscribed with the house name Skyring. Turn north, on to the rising, flinty track that passes the house entrance and climbs to the scrub-enclosed continuing bridleway. Keep to the main track and do not be distracted by shouts of “fore”, “four” or “phwoar” (I’m never sure which it is) that may come from the golf courses on either side of the track.

Climb for nearly half a mile to a crossing track and continue straight ahead on to more open Downland, having cleared the tree cover. The bridleway follows a northerly direction between the golf courses, above Findon valley on the left, finally levelling off after a mile as the lower slopes of Cissbury Ring are reached.

2 At a junction of footpaths and bridleways, having passed through a bridle gate, continue ahead on the main track, keeping slightly to the right and passing beneath Downland scrub and trees. The adjacent area is shown on the map as having been the site of flint mines. Flint mining was the local industry 5,000 years ago, the natural resource being dug out from deep mine shafts and worked into knives, arrowheads and other implements. There are about 250 shafts at this site, 40ft deep, with horizontal shafts branching-off. Tools from this area have been found as far away as the Eastern Mediterranean. We have seen on earlier walks that such activity existed on neighbouring summits, such as nearby Church Hill and Harrow Hill. Climb up between the sparse woodland to reach the main ramparts of Cissbury Ring, now in the care of the National Trust, in 250 yards. A diversion to the left is accessible, just to stand at the top of the earthwork to appreciate the scale of the structure. At the time of occupation, 2,500 years ago, a wooden palisade would have topped the bank.

Returning to the main path, our route continues ahead on open access land, passing through the earthwork and proceeding across the top of the Iron Age enclosure. You may see English Longhorn and White Park cattle grazing among the scrub.

Keep to the main track going northward and, in 200 yards, take a branch to the right, heading for the concrete triangulation point, at more than 600ft, that can be seen through the gorse cover.

3 From the summit, take a few paces left and, following a northerly line, descend to the edge of the ramparts. On arriving at the top of the embankment, close to a lone tree and viewing seat, go left about 75 yards to locate some descending steps. Turn right, on to the steps and follow them down through the scrub cover to finally cross a grassy lower slope and leave the main site through a gate. Cross a junction of tracks and walk ahead, passing a car parking area, following the northward-bound bridleway to a crossing bridleway in 400 yards. Maintain direction on the path that passes between Downland scrub and continues for one third of a mile, with extensive views in all directions, to another junction of tracks.

4 Take the half-right fork on to the restricted byway, which follows a sweeping hilltop route and in half a mile begins a descent into an area shown as No Man’s Land. Keep to the main track, in order to avoid the close bramble cover of the route through scrub on the right of the track. At the bottom of the hollow, at a convergence of tracks and field corners and beside a metal gate, turn right (blue arrow). The onward bridleway now follows the sheltered valley floor through Stump Bottom for a mile, between hedgerows, to arrive at a crossing track. Turn right, through a metal gate on the restricted byway as it climbs through Canada Bottom, with the looming bulk of Cissbury Ring on the left.

5 In three quarters of a mile, the track arrives beside the car park and track junction we were at earlier, at the foot of the earthwork’s hill. Turn left through the site’s entrance gate and veer to the left on the rising bridle-way that skirts around the northern flank of Cissbury Ring, between the extensive bushes. Keep to the main track, which gets steeper as it nears the summit and arrives at a wooden gate. Pass through the gate into the hilltop site and walk ahead a few paces. Turn right, to the end of a fence line, and then turn left to a three-way bridle-way sign. Pass through a bridle gate and follow the descending track.

The enclosed bridleway maintains a southerly direction for a little over a mile, down through the valley, with Tenant’s Hill rising on the left.

6 In about a mile, having just passed a small stone plaque set in the bank on the left, locate the unsigned permissive path on the right, beside a metal post. Take this right turn, which passes between the Worthing and Hill Barn golf courses.

The path soon begins to climb out from the valley floor and, after halfm a mile, arrives at the path junction we crossed over at the early stage of this walk. Turn left and follow the chalky approach track, which can be slippery after wet weather, back down to our starting point beside the road.

  • Distance/time: Seven-and-three-quarter miles, taking three-and-three-quarter hours.
  • By car: Roadside car parking in Offington Drive, south, off the A24, between Broadwater and Findon Valley roundabouts. Start point Grid Ref. TQ137054.
  • By public transport: Details from www.traveline.info or call 0871 2002233. Bus stops at Broadwater Green and on A24, Findon Valley road.
  • What’s underfoot: Open Downland walking, generally on well-drained bridleways, with some long but easy climbs. Possible with a baby backpack. Something of a challenge with a buggy.
  • Thirsty work: No refreshment spots on the walk but shops and pubs at nearby Broadwater.
  • So you don’t get lost: OS Explorer map 121 and a compass.

For a larger version of the map, see 'related links' above.