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Black Down

There are currently 4 comments and 0 photos online for this walk.

Black Down
Author: Claire, Published: 17 May 2012 Walk Rating:star1 Black Down Walking Guide star1 Black Down Walking Guide star1 Black Down Walking Guide star1 Black Down Walking Guide star0 Black Down Walking Guide
West Sussex, South Downs
Walk Type: Woodland
Black Down
Length: 5 miles,  Difficulty: boot Black Down Walking Guide boot Black Down Walking Guide boot Black Down Walking Guide
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A 4.5 mile circular walk through the stunning landscape of Black Down, an area of heathland, copses and meadows high in the hills of West Sussex. Black Down is the highest point in West Sussex and the views are truly spectacular across the surrounding rolling landscape. In spring you’ll enjoy carpets of bluebells and come July the site is famous for its mass of purple bilberries. The site is now owned and managed by the National Trust.

The walk follows a mixture of heathland and woodland paths some of which are quite uneven with stone and trees roots and some of the sunken woodland paths remain quite muddy through many months of the year. There are several climbs and descents some of which are fairly steep. There are no stiles and just a handful of single gates. Cows are used through some of the year to help manage the heath, so take care with dogs, but it is quite unusual to see them in the massive expanse of heath and woodland. There are no refreshment or toilet facilities on the site. Approximate time 2 hours.

The walk starts from the small ‘Lower’ Car Park on Tennyson Lane, south of Haslemere. Note there are two car parks and you need the smallest of the two which is situated right on the hairpin bend on Tennyson Lane. Approximate post code GU27 3BJ.

Walk Sections

Start to First View Point
Start to First View Point

Start point: 51.0676 lat, -0.6849 long
End point: 51.066 lat, -0.6873 long

From the car park head away from the road and up a short slope through a wooden gate. Continue ahead and after just a few paces you will come to a bench, with magnificent views ahead over the rolling hills. Turn right up the short slope onto the narrow path between the trees.

Follow this narrow path between heather with the steep slopes to the valley down to the left. As the path completes a short steep rise, turn left into a level viewing area with a bench.

Black Down was a favourite haunt of Alfred, Lord Tennyson. The views inspired him to write ‘You came and looked and loved the view, long known and loved by me, Green Sussex fading into blue with one grey glimpse of sea’. The Poet Laureate built his second home here in 1868, living at Aldworth House (adjacent to the car park) for the last 24 years of his life.

First View Point to Wider Path
First View Point to Wider Path

Start point: 51.066 lat, -0.6873 long
End point: 51.0628 lat, -0.6861 long

Continue past the bench (to your right) and keep on the narrow winding path with the valley slopes immediately on your left. Keep ahead on this path winding and rising and falling, and then continue on the most obvious path ahead. This path soon becomes a little wider passing through a section of hazels. The path begins to slope downhill with large beech trees each side.

As you walk down some of these ancient sunken lanes and drove ways, you can feel a sense of timelessness. Traders, shepherds and quarrymen have been using these tracks for thousands of years.

Wider Path to Signpost
Wider Path to Signpost

Start point: 51.0628 lat, -0.6861 long
End point: 51.059 lat, -0.6884 long

Follow this wider and slightly sunken path ahead. Over to the left down the valley slopes you’ll have great views of Abesters Copse, which has a carpet of bluebells in the spring.

Follow this path along the ridge for some distance and soon it will sweep to the right and uphill. Climb ahead up the wooden steps with a wooden rail to meet a T-junction with a main track. Turn left onto the track and a few paces later you will come to a signpost marking the public bridleway with blue arrows.

Signpost to Temple of the Winds
Signpost to Temple of the Winds

Start point: 51.059 lat, -0.6884 long
End point: 51.0551 lat, -0.6881 long

Take the right hand fork here, ahead on the public bridleway. Continue along this wide level track. This path is part of the Serpent Trail. A little while later you’ll come to a major fork in the path. Take the left hand fork signed to Temple of the Winds.

A few paces later the treeline on the left ends and you have your first glimpse of the views afforded from this high ridge. Continue ahead and pass through a simple fenced barrier to reach the Temple of the Winds viewing point.

Temple of the Winds to Fernden Road
Temple of the Winds to Fernden Road

Start point: 51.0551 lat, -0.6881 long
End point: 51.0527 lat, -0.6954 long

The curved stone bench here was erected in memory of Mabel Elizabth Hunter, wife of Edward W Hunter, who gave Black Down to the National Trust in 1944. A plaque set on top of the stone plinth gives a key to the views in various directions – from Haslemere on the far left round to Midhurst and Beacon Hill on the far right. On clear days you’ll be able to see as far as Lewes and the south coast.

Continue ahead on the path with the views over to the left. Follow this narrow woodland path curving to the right and through another simple staggered wooden barrier. Continue through the small area thick with tree roots keeping close to the sloping valley off to the left. Follow this path as it bends left and right gradually beginning to go downhill.

Some distance further, pass through a wooden gate and veer left downhill on the wide sunken footpath under the broad canopy of trees overhead. Follow this path with high banks of tree roots heading downhill, steeply at times, for some distance. You’ll emerge to a small triangle of grass with a National Trust sign on the right. Keep right here down the grass track and a few paces later you’ll reach a T-junction with a tarmac lane.

Fernden Road to Sheetlands
Fernden Road to Sheetlands

Start point: 51.0527 lat, -0.6954 long
End point: 51.0649 lat, -0.7066 long

Turn right along Fernden Lane. The lane is reasonably quiet but there are no pavements so take care of any traffic. Follow the lane uphill and then back downhill, passing a number of horse paddocks on the banks to the right. Soon afterwards you’ll pass some stables and the entrance to Crotchet Farm on the right. Ignore this entrance, and just continue along the main lane.

A small brook runs to the right of the lane. Follow the quiet woodland lane for another half mile. Pass by two properties on the right. Round the next bend pass the entrance to Sheetlands signed on the left.

Sheetlands to Gate
Sheetlands to Gate

Start point: 51.0649 lat, -0.7066 long
End point: 51.068 lat, -0.7014 long

About 30 yards after the entrance to Sheetlands, turn right onto a public bridleway, marked with a blue arrow, through a tunnel of trees. After a little distance this path comes past a lake on the right to emerge onto the drive of a private property.

Go ahead for a few paces, heading for the house, and then fork right up the fenced track marked with a blue arrow. A few paces later keep right at the next fork, again marked with the blue arrow. Follow this sunken path climbing fairly steeply uphill through the tunnel of trees. Continue for some distance until you reach a gate ahead.

Gate to Main Junction
Gate to Main Junction

Start point: 51.068 lat, -0.7014 long
End point: 51.0637 lat, -0.6904 long

Pass through the gate and then turn right onto the wide grass path climbing steadily uphill with patches of gorse each side. At the T-junction with a wider track, keep right and continue ahead to the next wooden gate.

Pass through the gate and go straight on at the crossroads immediately after it. Follow this wide sandy heathland path meandering gradually uphill. Go straight ahead at the next crossroads of tracks.

A little further ahead go straight on, ignoring the path coming in from the left by a bridleway sign. Follow the heathland path as it bends first right, then left, to reach a triangle of grass with a wooden signpost marking the main junction.

Main Junction to End
Main Junction to End

Start point: 51.0637 lat, -0.6904 long
End point: 51.068 lat, -0.6849 long

Ignore the first left turning (which goes downhill); instead take the second left which is a wider level path marked with the blue arrow. A little distance further, keep right at the fork, again following the main level track.

At the next staggered junction of paths, keep straight ahead, ignoring all smaller paths off to the left and right. Follow the now sunken path with high banks each side. Ahead you will see a large National Trust notice board and a tall concrete donations box. Turn right just a few paces before this notice board and follow this narrow path downhill. Pass through a gate to emerge next to the car park entrance. Turn right into the car park.

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network Black Down Walking Guide Original GPX source file

Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2012 by iFootpath and the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.

4 Comments for: "Black Down"

The blue way marker along Fernden Lane under tunnel of trees was difficult to spot. Great walk.

ADMIN RESPONSE: Glad you enjoy the walk - remember to use the iFootpath App's live GPS map (which shows your own live location on the route) to help guide you if ever you are unsure of a turn.

By Judithforde on 20 Jul 2018

Lovely walk but be prepared for much bogginess. Will return to enjoy the views when less rainy and foggy.

By HitchcockSmi on 31 Dec 2017

Excellent first and last part of the walk with beautiful views. About 3/4 round there is a long section of road walking which although quiet isn't the best. Worth it for the views though.

By Tobiasofsurr on 29 Dec 2016

An absolutely amazing walk with stunning views. Excellent practice for trekking - good variety of terrains. Directions pretty easy to follow. Thanks for this

By Considine on 10 Oct 2013

The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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