Halnaker Windmill Trail

This particular area has long been on my list to explore and I recently discovered a lovely 8km (5 mile) trail showcasing Sussex at it’s best. Established by Boxgrove Parish Council the ‘Windmill Trail’ meanders through tree lined vineyards up to the iconic Halnaker Windmill with breathtaking views across the coast of West Sussex. The trail then returns to the historical priory and village.

Start at Boxgrove village car park and head north on The Street, the entire route is signed so should be easy to follow. Cross the road at the end of the path and into the field. The first sightings of the Halnaker Windmill can be seen northwards across the field, standing at 128m above sea level atop Halnaker Hill it can be seen from miles around.

The trail follows the field around all three sides and leaves on the far side through an avenue of trees that border the edge of a vineyard, at this point you could easily think you were in France.

At Tinwood Lane the footpath is offset and continues across a meadow before going through beautifully golden cornfields.

At the far side carefully cross the busy A283 and turn into Mill Lane. This track was once the ancient roman road from London to Chichester known as Stane Street. The archway of trees here are locally known as the ‘Halnaker Tunnel of Trees’ and are very different in every season, it is a very popular spot for photographers too.

After the magical tunnel the trail heads to the top of Halnaker Hill, where the windmill is sited. The original mill was first recorded in 1540 and built for the Duke of Richmond as the feudal mill of the Goodwood Estate. The exact age of the surviving mill is not known but thought to date from the 1740s, however the Listed Buildings Register dates it as 1850. The windmill was a working mill until it was struck by lightning in 1905 damaging the sails and windshaft. For many years there was also a small millers cottage on the hilltop, but was demolished in 1902 with no trace left nowadays.

Halnaker Mill also appears in a poem by Hilaire Belloc in which the collapse of the Mill is used as a metaphor for the blight of the moral and social system.

Also located around the hilltop are the brick built base remains of four old WW2 timber ‘Radio Direction Finders’. During the war RAF personal stationed in these towers monitored and reported radio messages they picked up from aircraft flying nearby. 

Retrace your steps down the hill and back to Tinwood Lane. Head south down the lane passing Tinwood Vineyard, a 65 acre estate that has been producing quality sparkling wine since 2009, vineyard tours, wine tasting and luxury glamping can all be done here.

To the left of the lane is Boxgrove quarry where in 1993 the shinbone of a man was found that dates back 500,000 years, known as the Boxgrove man this is the earliest hominoid remains to be found in the British Isles. A few years later teeth, animal remains and flint tools were also found. The route back to Boxgrove wanders through the vineyards, along tree lined avenues and enters the village via Church Lane. 

The Church of St Marys and St Blaise is worth exploring as this was the priory church before the suppression of monasteries. The small Benedictine priory was founded in about 1107, originally for just three monks, however only the lodging house and part of the church remain.

The west part of the church was demolished in the 18th century but the chancel, central tower, transepts and easternmost bay of the nave survive as the present-day parish church.

After visiting the church head through an arch to the site of the ruined 14th century lodging house. it is now roofless, but the north and south gable ends still stand to their full height.

Inside the church is a model of how the buildings were set out giving an understanding of the layout of the monastery.

A short walk back past Priory Hall Farm to the car park completes this circular trek. 

Further details of the Windmill Trail can be found on the leaflet provided by ‘Visit Chichester’ at https://www.visitchichester.org/sites/default/files/Boxgrove_Trail_Final.pdf

Map of route can be found by filling this link https://osmaps.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/route/5831042/Windmill-Trail

Trundle, Charlton, Levin Down & Cheese

Foodie Trek – March 2018

A circular walk of 10km (6 Miles) celebrating Goodwood cheese and taking in two distinctive hills, ‘The Trundle’ with it’s fantastic views across Sussex and Levin Down, a nature reserve with some outstanding features in the landscape.

31st March 2018

Theres’s no tasting on today’s trek however the walk takes us to some beautiful parts of Sussex that Goodwood has named it’s cheeses after, namely Levin Down and Charlton.

Susan, Belinda, Tim & Kiah joined PK and i today for this months foodie trek and as a bit of a teaser we drove by Goodwood and down the hill that we were soon to be climbing back up, haha!

We parked on the street in Singleton, just outside the Partridge Inn and changed into my nice clean dubbed boots. Singleton is an anglo-saxon village nestled in the Lavant Valley amidst the hills of The South Downs National Park, it’s name comes from ‘sengal’ which means burn’t clearing, not sure why it is derived from that. We left the village passing through the churchyard of the Saxon church ‘Blessed Virgin of St Mary’ and then into Manor Farm for our first encounter with squidgy mud as we trudged through we each tried to pick the best route through with some sinking deeper than others in the mud. Clean boots no longer……doh!. Ahead of us now was the climb up to the ‘Trundle’, why do we put such a steep climb in straight away at the start of the trek.

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I had my nordic poles with me today and found that they actually helped in walking up the hill as i could push on them with my arms too. As we ascended the hill we could see the weald and downland museum through the leafless trees to our right and the new downland gridshell building that has been built there. The ‘ Weald and Downland’ Museum started with a single building in 1968 and now 50 years on has over 50 buildings from the South East of England, each carefully dismantled and rebuilt in the museum. The museum has various themed days throughout the year and courses on rural trades & crafts. I have visited the museum on a few occasions and the food fare and christmas market they put on are great as the whole place comes alive and it’s very clever how exhibitors are placed around the site in the many buildings, i particularly enjoy seeing and tasting the food cooked over the open fires that would have once been eaten in the time of the old houses. Onwards and upwards with views to Goodwood Racecourse to our left.

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The first steep part of the hill complete and after lots of puffing and panting it levels off a little and is now a gradual climb to the road and car park, the jokes about why didn’t we park here were so predictable, but funny all the same. From the car park it was another steep climb to to the top of the trundle, passing through the stiffest gate i have ever encountered, they must have hardcore sheep here, i made it into a good workout though. Onwards and upwards we were soon on the remnants of the fort walls on which we walked around the entire perimeter. The walk up was quite hot and now on top is quite cold in the breeze that’s blowing. The trundle also known as ‘St Roches Hill stands at 206m (676ft) and has a gentler climb from the south unlike the steeper climb we chose from the north. The Trundle is the site of an old iron age hill fort and the ditches/embankments can be clearly picked out and would have formed the fort walls, they are great to walk around. Apparently there was a chapel up here too, but there is no evidence of this here anymore. There was some fantastic views on the top over sussex and hampshire to the Isle of Wight, Portsmouth’s high buildings could be picked out of the slightly hazy distance and the Isle of Wight looms out from the sea.

From the Trundle we headed down to the road, and followed the outskirts of the world famous Goodwood racecourse that has held horse racing here since 1802, when the Third Duke of Richmond introduced horse racing to Goodwood for the benefit of the officers of the Sussex Militia. A detour into the woods of Goodwood Country Park would have been good here too.

At the far end of the racecourse we took the chalky track down through the managed forest of Charlton Park. We had loads to talk about and rather than set the map up i led the way down the wrong track, after heading down through the woods for a while, i suddenly realised that we should be by the side of the racecourse. PK took great delight in checking on his App to confirm that we were on the wrong path and then told all sorts of tales about how his app has saved the day……lol, (i still prefer the map and compass though). We now had to do a slight back track here as the talking was what made us go down the wrong path, something i was always telling the scouts about.

We set up the map at the paths junction and took the correct track this time that runs alongside part of the racecourse giving some great views down the track. This path eventually leads into Charlton, passing a memorial to the troops of the Sussex Yeomanry who served in WW1 and WW2. Albeit a small village Charlton has a number of surprising claims to fame, such as, the place where the first Women’s Institute in England held its inaugural meeting at ‘The Fox Goes Free Inn’ during the First World War and it also appeared as a fictional Scottish village called Tullock in the episode ‘Terror of the Zygons’ of Dr Who in 1975. We tried to eat lunch at the ‘Fox goes Free’ but found that they had no space for us as it was easter weekend and they were packed out. We decided to phone ahead top the partridge inn at singleton and continue on.

We left Charlton by road to the west and soon after head up ‘Levin Down’, a nature reserve that is managed by the West Sussex Wildlife Trust. Levin Down is covered in natural scrubby grassland, the landscape of this reserve is so different from the surrounding agricultural fields and is a site of special scientific interest. The name Levin Down is derived from ‘Leave Alone Hill’ which meant that the land was too steep to plough, whereby allowing an abundance of flora, fauna and wildlife to flourish here. It also has some great views looking out over Charlton, Singleton and Goodwood beyond. It was a muddy steep climb up to the reserve and due to the chill in the air we didn’t see much wildlife. We had been extremely lucky with the weather today and albeit a bit cold on the top of the trundle it was pleasantly mild otherwise. However on Levin Down looking out beyond the Lavant Valley we could see that Singleton was beginning to disappear into a haze of rain which was headed straight for us, the cloud must have been moving at some speed as shortly after it did indeed start to rain, however not too hard and also whilst we was on the descent to singleton.

We entered Singleton by the cemetery and school and just before us was the River Lavant in full flow, a great opportunity to wash some of the chalky mud from our boots. A short walk through the village and we were back at the car outside the Partridge Inn, so in we went for our meal that we had booked. The food here is really good and uses different ingredients, we all ate well and the ‘Red Bream, Fregola, Garlic Sauce & Nutbourne Tomatoes’ from the specials board was absolutely delicious.

Goodwood Cheese

This month i feel that a recipe is not required and that the three cheeses that Goodwood produces (Charlton, Levin Down and Molecomb Blue) which are all named after the locality, should be served quite simply on a cheese board with fresh fruit, crackers and a good homemade chutney. Enjoy!