6.0 Km; 3.7 miles
(There is an alternative shorter and lower route below ‘Wilmington to Alfriston via Milton Street’)
Leave Wilmington Church. Outside the church is a famous yew tree which is thought to be 1600 years old and one of the most ancient in the county. Turn right and leave the churchyard by the metal gate at the east end of the church. Walk south along the raised pavement above Wilmington street. Over the wall on your right are buildings from a former Benedictine Priory and the remains of the later 14th century defensive tower. A little further along is the old ‘Village Pound’ where stray animals would have been penned until their owners could collect them, usually at the cost of a fine. Continue to the carpark at edge of the village.
Cross the road to a footpath which runs between two hedges beside the road. Then turn left and walk up the path which leads to ‘The Long Man’, a giant 72m high chalk figure thought to date from the mid-16th century. Walk to the gate at the base of the ‘Long Man’. There are now two alternatives, one which ascends to the top of hill above the Long Man and one which takes a shorter and lower route to the right. Both paths now cross chalk grassland SSSI, a protected habitat which is species rich and of important conservation value (a botanical guide to the route is available).
To go the top of Windover Hill (214m)
Turn left and walk along the bottom of the escarpment for about 400 yds, passing a small copse on your left. Then take the first track on your right which double backs above the lower path as it ascends diagonally to the top of the Downs. At the top the track bends round to left through earthworks. Cross the fence into the field and then turn right to join the chalk track of the South Downs Way. The track passes through a gate and bears to the left of a pre-historic (2900-800 B.C.) tumulus.
From the top of the tumulus is a spectacular panoramic view of the low Weald to the north and the English Channel to the south. Return to the chalk track and follow it as it curves around a Comb and down to a minor road (about ½ mile).
To avoid ascending Windover Hill
To avoid the full ascent turn right at the display board beneath the Long Man and follow a path which ascends the escarpment and then bends round to the left. The path meets a sunken chalk path. Go straight across this and follow the path until it joins the chalk track, the South Downs Way, which lead down to a minor road.
The two alternative routes have rejoined. Cross the minor road and take the track ahead of you. After about 100 yds take the signposted path on your left which leaves the track over a style to cross an open cultivated field. When you reach the first hedge follow it south (do not continue straight ahead) to the wooded edge of the field. Turn left and Lullington Church is visible as you walk uphill to the churchyard gate.
‘The Good Shepherd’, Lullington is one of the smallest churches in the country . Leave the churchyard by the same entrance and retrace the path for about 100yds before going through a gap on your left and then turning right to take the footpath down to Alfriston. Take care crossing the road on a blind corner.
Stage 5 – Arlington to Wilmington
Stage 7 – Alfriston to Lullington