Nature and Regeneration
Three unmissable walks around Wiston Estate
Panoramic views of the South Downs are the reward for all ramblers in inland West Sussex. Rolling chalk hills provide tough terrain for both legs and roots, but there are leisurely walks and picnic spots aplenty too. We’ve gathered three walks from easy to medium to challenging, listed by distance, that we’d recommend to visitors to Wiston Estate. Walks in West Sussex are a great way to see local wildlife, and we’ve highlighted spots where, if you’re lucky, you can see newts, hares and wild birds. All our walks start at Wiston Estate’s North Farm.
Written and researched by Amber Varley.
Time: 20 minutes
Distance: 1.3 km / 0.8 miles
Elevation gain: 27 m/ 88 ft
A short, gentle climb from North Farm will reward you with spectacular views overlooking the South Downs and beyond to the sea.
Starting at the winery car park, walk straight up the hill and take a right at the track which runs above North Farm Vineyard. A 10-minute stroll onwards will take you to Crossroads Viewpoint.
At this point, you can see two of the most prominent hills in this area of the South Downs. Wiston Estate’s own Chanctonbury Ring, instantly recognisable by the throng of beech trees upon its top, lies to the North-East, across the valley in front of you on the left-hand side, while the broader, undulated top of Cissbury Ring is clearly visible to the South-East. From Iron Age forts to Roman religious sites and settlements, these landmarks have revealed much about generations past. Now, they are cherished by the local community and provide important sites for wildlife conservation. To the right of Cissbury Ring is the small village of Findon. On a clear day, you can see directly past Findon to Worthing seafront and the English Channel beyond.
Three Vineyards Trail
Time: 50 minutes
Distance: 3.7 km/ 2.3 miles
Elevation gain: 87 m/ 285 ft
Follow this trail to discover Wiston Estate’s trio of vineyards; home to fifty kilometres of vines between them, these serene expanses offer incomparable tranquillity in the heart of the South Downs. Starting at North Farm Vineyard, our one-and-a-half-acre plot of pinot noir vines planted in 2017, go to the track which runs along the top and take a right, continuing until you reach Crossroads Viewpoint (see above). Then take a right down the grassy track until you reach a gate on the left-hand side: this is the top of Broadwoods Vineyard, a 6-acre expanse of chardonnay vines planted in 2017. Take a left and walk past the vines to arrive at our picnic spot at the bottom, a perfect space to sit and relax.
After your picnic here, walk straight down the edge of the lower field, where you will find yourself at a chalk track. Either turn left and walk up the hill to return to Crossroads Viewpoint or take a right and follow the track for a further 10 minutes to our largest vineyard, Findon Park. This is our original vineyard: a 16-acre expanse of pinot noir, pinot meunier and chardonnay vines planted in 2006. Wander at your leisure and be sure to look out for our resident family of hares!
Chanctonbury Ring Loop
Time: 90 minutes
Distance: 6.7 km/ 4.2 miles
Elevation gain: 233 m/ 760 ft
Start at Crossroads Viewpoint (directions above) then, take a left up the hill and follow the chalky track all the way up to Chanctonbury Hill. Feel free to stop at one of our picnic areas on the way to rest and admire the view. Ensure you bear right at the crossroads and continue to the cattle grid. Through the gate to your left lies the westerly dew pond; one of two upon Chanctonbury Hill which were created in the 1870s to provide a water source for livestock. Restored in the 1970s and again in more recent years, these ponds are vital sites for biodiversity; most notably, they sustain a colony of great crested newts, a protected species whose numbers have been in decline across Europe due to habitat loss. Continue past the cattle grid and head up the slight slope to your left to gain a spectacular view of the North Downs.
You are now on top of Chanctonbury Hill, a site which has been inhabited and cherished by generations past and witnessed thousands of years of human development. Continue along the path towards the copse of trees ahead: Chanctonbury Ring. The original beech trees, planted in 1760 by Charles Goring, were ravaged by the great storm of 1987. With three quarters of the original trees lost, a huge replanting effort has restored the iconic throng which makes Chanctonbury Hill so unique and instantly recognisable.
Continue along the path and past the cattle grid at the opposite side of the hill. From here, go down the chalk track and take a right at the crossroads, then head down the narrow, grassy track on your right immediately after. Go through the small woods at the bottom, and past the wooden gate at the end. Continue through the valley and join the track on the other side. This takes you past our original vineyard, Findon Park. Follow the track through the trees and turn right at the end, then bear right round the bend, keeping the barns on your left. Follow this track all the way to the steep chalk hill, where you will find yourself back at Crossroads Viewpoint at the top. Continue straight ahead down the hill to return to North Farm.