Amberley Mount and Rackham Bank Walk In The South Downs

If you read my first article on this site, Slindon and Great Down, you may recall me mentioning that Britain’s newest National Park, has over 3000km or so of footpaths and bridleways that are largely free of crowds and take you to some stunning scenery, unique habitats and places of interest. As well as Slindon and Eartham, my other favourite area is around Amberley. Whilst we walk on the South Downs Way for a little bit of the walk, we will soon explore some of the overlooked paths and take in some beautiful sights over the Arun Valley. This area of the country is, in my opinion, one of the prettiest. As the river Arun snakes its way through the downs you can see the water meadows – always spectacular, but especially after a prolonged spell of rain, the downs themselves, the neat, archetypal Sussex villages and the castle at Arundel

This walk starts at Amberley railway station. Parking is usually available, but, if not, you can park at the top of the road called “High Titten” and the junction with Mill Lane.  It’s about half a mile a way, but we walk past this spot so it’s on the route.

The walk is dog friendly and thanks to the South Downs National Park’s “Miles without Styles” initiative, free of styles and other barriers to access. It is ca 5miles. After the walk, Amberley has two great places for refreshment – the Riverside Cafe and The Bridge Inn. Both serve excellent food and a range of drinks

the beautiful Arun valley

As you leave Amberley Station,  cross the main road and turn right. Follow the footpath for ca 0.25 miles. You will see a road on your right called “High Titten”. Walk up this road. Take time to look over the wall on your right for a bird’s eye view of Amberley Museum. This is an Industrial Heritage museum built into an old Chalk Quarry. Largely run and maintained by enthusiastic volunteers, it’s a very interesting place to visit. It also had a starring role in the James Bond film “A View to a kill”. Continue up the road, past Mill Lane ( should you need to park,  this is the spot) and as you pass a large house on your left, you will see a bridleway. Take this path. You are now on the South Downs Way. As you walk up the hill  you will see more and more of the beautiful Arun valley on your left.  As you pass the farm on your right, continue up the short steep section which is Amberley Mount. Take some time to enjoy the scenery. You will often be accompanied by Red Kites., as well as gliders from the flying club at Storrington

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You can see the expanse of the Arun valley as you look over the villages of Rackham and Amberley. You will also have tremendous views of Bignor Hill, Arundel Castle and the Channel.

over the villages of Rackham and Amberley

Continue on the South Downs Way until you meet a signposted right hand turn. Here you are on Rackham Banks. These are thought to be man made structures from the Bronze Age. Rackham Banks are thought to be a “Cross Dyke” and “Itford Hill” settlement.  Spend some time here and enjoy the spectacular views.

Rackham Banks are thought to be a “Cross Dyke” and “Itford Hill” settlement

Take the path away from the South Downs following the banks down hill. At the bottom of the hill is another good place to stop; waiting a few minutes will reward you with some fantastic aerial displays from the buzzards and kestrels that float on the thermals rising from the valley below you. 

Turn right and follow the track down the hill.

You can also see how the land is changing as human use changes. This area used to be sheep and cattle grazing, now a local wine maker has planted vines on the south facing hills. 

planted vines on the south facing hills

As you near the farm, you will see a track to your left that passes through the vineyard. Take this path and follow it all the way to the bottom of the valley.  You will see a “Dew Pond” at the bottom. A Dew Pond is a man made feature found over all over the chalk downs. Thought to have been created in the 18th Century to water livestock, they have fallen into disrepair. But they do contain important habitats for mammals, amphibians and flowers. The South Downs National Park is working with land owners to restore these important habitats. This is an example of a recently restored pond.

A Dew Pond is a man made feature

Follow the path up the hill on the other side,  in late spring early summer this bank is a yellow with cowslips and alive with butterflies. At the top of the hill, turn right onto the well defined track and follow this track down to the hamlet of North Stoke. When you reach the hamlet, take the road and follow this back to Amberley. As you walk back towards Amberley enjoy the changing views in front of you from the rolling hills of the South Downs to the water meadows alongside the river Arun

This is a beautiful walk at any time of year, but my favourite is spring when everything is bursting into life and the air is full of birds of all kind and from Amberley Mount you look down on a beautiful part of the world.

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