Thakeham’s Guide to Spring & Summer Walks in West Sussex

In Spring and Summer, we can’t stop thinking about our next hike, picnic, or stroll to enjoy the wildlife and scenery. And, to us, there really is no better place for it than West Sussex.

 

Whether you live in the area and are looking for a new route, or are thinking of visiting, we’ve narrowed this list down to 6 of our favourites – from pub walks to seafront ambles.

 

 

 

Nymans – romantic garden amble

Nymans House in West Sussex, a medieval manor house and gardens.

Length: as long as you like – from 0.75 to 2.5 miles.

Estimated duration: 15 minutes to an hour depending on your route and breaks (lots of great stops here!).

Difficulty: easy to moderate.

Park: Nymans car park.

Dogs: allowed (in sight at all times)

 

Nymans offers a glorious escape to the countryside, while still staying within reach of its facilities — including a café, shop, second-hand bookshop, and gallery.. 

 

The house and gardens will be ideal for couples looking for a romantic walk or a family in need of a great day out. Run by the National Trust, there is a natural play area on-site and a mini stage for theatrically-inclined kids!

You can choose from a range of routes depending on what you fancy, from a short walk through the arboretum to a long walk throughout the entire site. Enjoy the bluebell woods, bird hide, conifer trees, and wildflower meadow.

 

Devil’s Dyke – historic valley bathed in legend

Two paragliders can be seen in the sky over the Devil's Dyke valley in West Sussex.

Length: 3 miles.

Estimated duration: 2-3 hours.

Difficulty: moderate, with some steep ascents & descents.

Park: Devil’s Dyke car park. 

Dogs: allowed (on leads).

 

This scenic V-shaped valley is a National Trust treasure with a history of myth & legend to boot!

 

The legend goes that the Devil carved the valley in a single night to flood the churches of the Weald, angry with the increasing popularity of Christianity. At the bottom of the valley are two large humps in the earth, where it’s said that the Devil and his wife are buried. Scientists, though, have other ideas – as well as practical evidence! They say it was formed naturally in the last Ice Age, over 10,000 years ago.

 

Despite the rather chilling mystery surrounding the valley, walkers can enjoy a breathtaking view of the Sussex countryside and can even see the remains of early settlements. So whether you’re there for the history and legend or just a good view, the Devil’s Dyke has the walk for you.

There are several trails to be followed here, but we recommend trying the National Trust’s ‘Histories and mysteries’ walk that takes you through a good portion of the site. In Spring, you’ll see the whole of the South Downs in all its green glory!

 

 

Wolstonbury Hill – bluebell woods & panoramic views

 

Length: 3.7 miles.

Estimated duration: 2-3 hours.

Difficulty: moderate, with some steep areas – can get muddy after rain.

Park: Clayton Recreation Ground.

Dogs: allowed (on close leads).

 

The Wolstonbury Hill loop walk starts and ends at the Jack & Jill Inn, so you can reward yourself with a classic pub dinner afterwards!

 

At 3.7 miles, this figure-of-eight-shaped walk is a long one for families, particularly those with younger children — but you could always decide to cut the walk in half by turning back where the 8 intersects, instead of following the next loop.

 

In the beech woodland, you’ll be able to enjoy the abundant bluebells and the scent of wild garlic in the air.

 

 

Worthing Seafront – a stroll along the promenade

Worthing Pier at low tide as the sun sets behind it.

Length: as long as you like, but up to 5 miles.

Estimated duration: up to 3 hours if you take the entire route.

Difficulty: easy.

Park: on the sea front or Teville Gate pay & display.

Dogs: allowed (on a lead).

 

Worthing seafront boasts a beautiful, flat beach lined with pastel-coloured beach huts and arcades. The pier, opened in 1862, is quiet and quaint — a great place to blow away the cobwebs in a fresh Spring breeze. 

 

In Summer, the sea front is bustling with life, with many visitors taking to the iconic Lido, ice creams in hand.

 

The Promenade is 5 miles long and an easy walk, with facilities along the way like public toilets, seafood shacks, and even a sauna!

 

Wakehurst – wild botanic garden

A view of the Wakehurst gardens, filled with wildflowers and conifer trees. There is a lake in the background.

Length: around 3.5 miles if you choose to walk the entire site.

Estimated duration: up to 1.5 hours depending on route and breaks.

Difficulty: relatively easy, but you can opt for routes with steeper paths and rocky outcrops.

Park: Wakehurst car park.

Dogs: allowed on dog-friendly routes.

 

There’s so much to see at Wakehurst that you could visit again and again and have a different experience each time. The 500-acre site is jam-packed with delights, from the Himalayan-inspired gardens to Bethlehem Woods, a National Birch Collection. 

 

Be sure to pay a visit to The Millenium Seed Bank, home to over 2.4 billion seeds from around the world — a conservation project like no other.

 

 

St Leonard’s Forest, Horsham – historic woodlands

 

Length: as long as you like, up to just under 5 miles.

Estimated duration: up to 2 hours.

Difficulty: easy to moderate depending on your route.

Park: St Leonard’s Park or St Leonard’s Forest car parks.

Dogs: allowed (on a lead).

 

First documented in 1208, the Lords of the Forest at the time were the De Braose family. They built a chapel dedicated to a French hermit saint said to have lived there. Legend says that the hermit, St Leonard himself, slayed England’s last dragon near Horsham.

 

Great for year-round walking, cycling, and riding, St Leonard’s forest has plenty of flat routes to enjoy. In Spring and Summer you can keep a keen eye out for the wildlife that calls the forest home — from comma and peacock butterflies to the lesser spotted woodpecker.

 

Arundel & Amberley – the castle & River Arun

A Red Admiral Butterfly perched on a purple flower.

Length: 12 miles (can be halved).

Estimated duration: up to 6 hours.

Difficulty: challenging, with some climbs & descents, plus muddy pathways.

Park: Arundel train station or Mill Road car park.

Dogs: allowed, but leads are essential (some fields have cattle/sheep).

 

This slightly more advanced walk is probably not one for children, but for couples and individuals looking for a challenge. The route takes you through Arundel Castle, alongside the River Arun, into Burpham Village (stop at The George for lunch!), through to South Downs Way, into Offham Village, and back to Arundel station.

 

In Spring and Summer, the river will be teeming with life. Look out for Bluebells & Cowslips amongst the greenery. You might also spot birds like Cuckoos, Nightingales, and Swifts. As for butterflies, keep your eyes peeled for Brimstones, Commas, Red Admirals, and more.

 

 

Sandgate Park – ‘fairy bridge’ circular walk

 

Length: 1.5 miles.

Estimated duration: 30 minutes to an hour, depending on breaks and pace.

Difficulty: easy, great for families with children.

Park: Sullington Warren car park.

Dogs: allowed.

 

Sandgate Country Park is a treat in the warmer months, filled with magical groves, some monumental trees, ponds, and heathland.

 

The route suggested by Discover Sussex takes you past the quarry, into the woods, and over the fairy bridge.

 

With a picnic bench en-route, it’s the perfect place to spend a sunny afternoon with a picnic, telling fairy stories along the way!

 

 

Tilgate Forest & Peace Garden – a scenic wildlife route

Tilgate Park with the Lake in the middle on a sunny Summer day.

Length: 2.2 miles.

Estimated duration: 1-2 hours depending on breaks and pace.

Difficulty: easy, great for families with young children.

Park: Tilgate Park Car Park, at the top of the hill on Tilgate Drive.

Dogs: allowed (on leads), though not in the Walled Garden or Nature Centre.

 

Tilgate Forest is a 17-acre nature reserve in Crawley, jam-packed with history. The lake is thought to have been dug out in the 17th century for iron, and is now host to a range of activities — from fishing to stand-up paddleboarding.

This short walk suggested by AllTrails takes you through the tranquil Peace Garden, a-buzz with bees enjoying the wildflowers there.

 

 

A home in the countryside

 

West Sussex has such a lot to offer — whether it’s ice cream by the sea, picnics by lakes, or bird-spotting in ancient woodlands. 

 

If you’ve taken a liking to West Sussex and are thinking of moving there to enjoy all it has to offer full-time, why not view our available properties in the area?

We are homebuilders on a mission to create not just homes, but communities in beautiful settings with excellent transport links. Learn more about Who We Are, and if you’d like to find out more, do get in touch.