wooded footpath at Slindon

By Wendy Hughes

With all this beautiful weather we are experiencing in the UK, I have tried to make the most of it, and this week decided to visit the village of Slindon, one of the most beautiful and rural villages in West Sussex.  It nestles in the foothills of the South Downs and is famous for its charm and still remains unspoiled with its flint houses surrounded by beech woods, farms and open downland.  Much of the area, as well as its many houses are in the care of the National Trust who manage to maintain a fine balance between the traditional and usefulness for visitors and residents alike.  The population of Slindon is only about 500, divided between homes on either side of the north and south of the A29.

stane street

History

It has a long history ranging from saints to smugglers, from Churches to a duck pond, and from an Elizabethan mansion to an ancient cattle pound. You will also find the best preserve sections of the Stane Street Road at Slindon, built around 79AD, and opened up a communication route between Chichester and London, although there is evidence that Slindon was in existence as back as Paleolithic times as well as during the Bronze Age .But  perhaps its best claim to fame is it is the birthplace of cricket – a memorial of bat, ball and wicket bears witness to this fact, as does a cricket club still playing after more than 250 years.  As it is near to the sea it also has a long association with smugglers and there is a story that there is a tunnel that leads to Yapton that was once used by smugglers.

Haven for Walkers

Slindon is an absolute haven for ramblers, dog walkers and horse riders and in the spring the bluebell woods are a joy to explore, whilst in the autumn people from all over the world come to see the famous pumpkin display, and with over 2,000 sunshine hours per annum, Slindon’s climate is amongst Britain’s best   The numerous beech trees at around Slindon provide the wooden wedges for the building of ships and floats of the fisherman’s nets.  .Historical records inform us that there was a deer park as early as the 13th century, and around the edge of the park a ‘pale’ was constructed so allow the deer to enter, but once in, could not get out.  The Pale consisted of a bank and ditches, with a fence on top, and can still be seen today.

slindon college

We parked the car near to the grand Elizabethan manor house at the top of the village, which is now a boy’s college and turned right into the shaded woods.  Having just bought a pair of walking shoes, I found the walk easy and pleasant, and after about half a mile we sat on a seat looking towards Nore folly, before walking the half mile back to where we started.  Opposite where we entered the wood we noticed that there was a circular walk up to Nore Hill Folly leading down to the seabed as it would have been millions of years ago. There were no stiles and only gentle climbs, but as it was a 4.5mile walk, I knew it was beyond me.

Butt-Lane-Slindon

However, for those who are fitter than me, start at the five-bar gate at the beginning of Butt Lane, walk steadily up towards Bignor Hill. Ignore the many left-hand tracks/turnings and either keep level or go upslope, and head straight or tend to the right. There will be trees or a hedge to your left, while to your right the view will frequently open out over fields.  Around 2 miles into the walk, you re-enter rough woodland for the last few hundred metres up to Gumber Corner. The sweep of the “Gallops” will be to your right. At the top you’ll meet an east-west bridleway at Gumber Corner; head left into mixed woodland.  Now continue for about 50m along the path until you see, to your left, the fence, farm gate and walkers’ stile at the top of Stane Street. And ccontinue south along Stane Street for a mile or so, heading for Eartham Wood. When you reach a clearing at the Six-Ways signpost (where eight ways now meet), take the path to your left, with a “no horses” sign to its right and a way-marker post to its left.   About 200m after a pole-gate partially crosses the way, turn right at a signpost to your right and walk across the northern flank of Nore Hill. Turn left uphill at the second signpost, to the right of the track beside a “no horses” sign. Follow the way up, through a pole-barrier and across the top of Nore Hill. After you come out into the open, keep the woods to your right for 200m until Nore Hill folly. Take the farm track downhill then, at the T-junction adjacent to Row’s Barn, turn away from it, heading to your left.  Just past the farmyard to your left, turn right on to Nore Hill Lane. This takes you back to your starting point.

Nore Folly

Nore Hill and its Folly

Nore Hill is well known for its springtime display of bluebells and Wood Anemones as well as early purple orchids, and on warmer days you will see a variety of butterflies including the White Admiral and Speckled Wood.  Nore Folly , which is also known as Slindon Folly  is a  stone construction resembling a gateway but is a decorative piece which leads to nowhere, and was  built of flint] in the 1814  by the Newburgh family, possibly due to the countess’s liking an Italian picture of a building.  The National Trust, which restored the folly in 1993 and informs us that it was built for the Countess of Newburgh’s picnic parties. At that time there was a small covered building attached, which has since been removed.  It has been designated as a grade II listed building and featured on a first day cover designed by British First Day Cover in 2006.I was so impressed by the village that we shall return next week and I will tell you about the village itself, its buildings including the church which has the only wooden effigy in a Sussex church.

Beautiful countryside around Slindon