Arundel, Amberley and the South Downs

This walk starts by following the meandering river Arun for some way. The second part of the walk is along a section of the South Downs Way. The beginning of the return stretch is along a bridleway, with some pleasant fields later. The "home run" is along the Monarch's Way.

O/S Ref: TQ021071
Length: 14 Miles approx.
Approximate time: 5-5½ hours.
Parking: Car park near castle (£5 for 4+ hours).
Refreshments: Pubs and cafés in Arundel and Amberley.

The walk

Start by walking to the river Arun on the south side of the car park. Turn left and follow the river-side path in an easterly direction. The path makes a very brief departure from the river, first to the left, then right to rejoin the river. There are great views behind for a while of Arundel Castle and the lofty Catholic Cathedral. At first, you never seem to be getting away from Arundel, as the Castle is behind to start with. After a while it's to your left, then further on it's virtually in front of you! The river does a lot of meandering in this locality, which actually adds quite some mileage to the walk. It is however really pleasant and undemanding walking. This is an easy part of the walk also, as navigation isn't an issue.

The river goes pretty sharply right just after a kissing gate. Another path joins from the left. The next part of the walk is to the right of the Arundel Wetland Centre. This is a 26 hectare site which is home to many exotic wildfowl. After walking along a pretty straight part of the river, we leave it temporarily to walk to the right of the Black Rabbit public house. Go through the extensive car park, coming to a signpost at its far end. It's a little bit rougher for a while, with the path getting quite stony. Shortly, cross a stile then re-join the river. A railway line joins from the right. Climb two stiles either side of the approach to a bridge, to walk in a northerly direction. This stretch looks to be a man-made diversion of the river, which actually meanders a bit further east than where we are heading.

The church at South Stoke can soon be seen ahead, and to the right, as we follow the changing course of the river. Cross a stile, followed by a bridge – this can be a bit muddy at certain times. On coming to South Stoke, the path goes right at first. It then follows a gradual bend to the left, circling the village, crossing a stile in the process. On coming to a white painted metal bridge, turn right to cross it, after first crossing another stile. At the other side of the bridge, turn left at a way-marker, then go through a kissing gate to follow the other bank of the river. After a while, leave the river, branching right, to go through another kissing gate (1). Follow the path though a belt of trees – it can be a bit muddy here. After about 300 metres, the path bends right, before turning left to cross a rather ornate suspension bridge, which is somewhat wobbly in the middle!

A few metres further on, go through a kissing gate then head gently uphill across a field to another kissing gate. Go though it, cross a track, then go through another kissing gate the other side of the track. Walk just a short distance to a road, then turn left to follow it westwards for a few paces. Turn right at a tee-junction with a phone-box on it. Follow the road, firstly to the right, then to the left, going gently downhill.

After a short while go left, in the direction pointed to by a public footpath signpost (2). Walk along an enclosed path, which can be a bit muddy after extended periods of rain. Cross a stile after a while, then turn right at a way-marker to cross another stile shortly after to rejoin the river Arun. Follow the river for about 500 metres. Cross a stile then turn left over a bridge, crossing another stile after to come to a road. Turn right to cross a traffic bridge, walking in front of the Boathouse Riverside Brasserie. If you want to stop for any refreshments, the Bridge Inn public house may fit the bill here!

Cross the busy road to turn left at a public footpath signpost, just in front of Amberley station (3). Keep ahead, just to the right of a small mobile home park, turning left at a footpath. Keep ahead, up a slight incline, to walk to the left of a fence at a signpost. On reaching a South Downs Way signpost, turn right though a gate to follow the sign. The next part of our walk will be along this long-distance national path, which runs from Winchester in the west, to Eastbourne in the east. We'll only be walking about 3 miles of it though (4.8 Km). Walk along an enclosed path, defined by a fence on the left, and a hedgerow to the right. Turn right after about 200 metres to keep along the South Downs Way, going gently uphill.

After 300 metres or so, cross a railway line – Amberley can be seen to the left here, notably the castle.  Amberley Castle is a grade I listed building, originally a 12th century manor house, later fortified (1377). It has been extensively modernised, and is now a hotel!

Anyway, keep ahead after the bridge for another 150 metres or so, coming to the busy B2139 road. Turn right to follow a dedicated path, to come to a South Downs Way sign and way-marker. Turn left here to cross the road to come to a lone signpost (without an attendant way-marker this side). Turn right along the edge of a field, turning left at its far corner, following a way-marker to go gently uphill along a lane for some 650 metres. There are ever increasing views to the left here. Follow the lane to the right further up. Don't be tempted by a footpath to the right here - which could seem like the way to go - but follow a South Downs Way signpost shortly after to the left, leaving the lane (4).

The gradient gets steeper here, especially a bit further on, just before the ridge, before flattening out. Go through a gate to continue the ascent. The views soon open up, especially down to Amberley to the left at first. Further, there are good views in all directions, with various Towns and hamlets in the distance. There are decent views behind, so it's worth looking back every now and then. If you have a camera with you, now is the time to “take five” and get a few decent shots for the album.

The walking gets easier and the views continue to the left. The next 1¼  miles (2 kilometres) are straightforward, following the South Downs Way. There are some views south on a clear day, to the south coast further on. A triangulation pillar further on, signals that there is about a ½ mile (800 metres) to go before your next turn. This turn is a sharp right onto a byway (5), almost doubling back on yourself. Bear left at a 3 way signpost to follow the course of the  byway, then turn left at another 3 way signpost a few paces after, onto a bridleway (6).

Cross a track (rather a gap in the hedges each side). There is a brief view to the right, with the south coast again making a showing. You are descending for some time, but it's not really perceivable as it's so gentle. After about 800 metres the the views open up each side, as the bridleway is not so enclosed. The next part of the walk is pleasant, especially on a summers day.

Go through a gate after a short while, then another gate soon after (which was open at the time of writing). The track is fairly chalky here. Go through a gap to the right of a gate, at a 3 way signpost.  Follow another 3 way signpost soon after, continuing in the same southerly direction as we have been going.

Go through a gate further on, to walk on the right edge of a field, with a fence and gallop track to the right. The bridleway on the OS map seems to deviate a bit to the left here, but the better option seems to be to stay close to the fence. It is better however, to leave the fence and walk to the left further along though, as the official bridleway is flatter. The bridleway converges with the track for a while then diverges from it again, going up a slight incline.

The next time the bridleway converges with the track is a signal that we are going to join the track for a short way. Bear right shortly after joining the track, at a 3 way signpost (7), to descend initially. Soon a bridleway joins from the left (Monarch's Way). The Monarch's Way is a long-distance national path, supposedly following the route that King Charles II would have possibly taken after being defeated in the Battle of Worcester (1651). It is the route we will be taking back to Arundel.

At a tee-junction with a 3-way signpost turn left, soon to come to another 3-way signpost. Here you have a choice of staying ahead through a wooded area, or bearing right. I'm just going to describe the Monarch's Way option - bear right through a gate (8).

Walk through an area which has quite a bit of hardcore in it, presumably from old buildings that were in the vicinity, which have been demolished. Keep left where a barbed-wire fence starts on the right. Keep the fence directly to the right to start with, but after about 400 metres, the boundary heads right. Keep ahead though, coming to a signpost that you would have rejoined our route at if you had taken the other option earlier! Bear left at another 3 way signpost, then bear left again at a third 3-way signpost to walk though a thicket.

After about 100 metres, go through a gate with a bridleway signpost nearby. Walk about 600 metres along a hanger, eventually coming to a road. Turn left along the road, then at a crossroads turn right onto a no through road, in the direction pointed to by a youth hostel sign. At the end of the road go through a gate, cross a two-way railway line then go through another gate. Bear left – go through a kissing gate to follow the opposite bank of the river Arun from the one we started the walk.

Once again there is a bit of weaving to do, to come eventually to the outskirts of Arundel. Follow the bank, crossing a stile, until you are diverted away from the river. Turn left at this point, soon going half-right through a gap – if you are in a car park, you have gone too far! Go through a small parking area to pass a small park on the right. Turn right on to Queen Street, cross a traffic bridge, then turn right in to Mill Road. The car park we started from is on the right after a few paces.

Click here to get an OS map with the route highlighted.
Click here for a GPX file containing sat-nav details for the walk. (Right click, then Save As).