Start from the car park of the Royal Oak at Hooksway and head up the hill along a lane. Take the first right and follow the old track way, then take a left at the footpath that runs through the hedge. These thick wooded hedges are called shaws or rews locally and resemble old woodlands with many plants such as wild garlic, bluebells and yellow archangel. When you reach the B2141 continue west for a few yards and cross opposite the lane for North Marden.
Church to church
St Mary’s of North Marden is a stunning downland church with a rounded chancel built in the 12th century. Follow the footpath to the side of the church down into the valley and up on to the ridge, then turn south towards Long Lane. Cross the lane and pick up the footpath opposite and head down the hill. Stay on the same line to the village of East Marden; on your right is the next footpath, but East Marden is well worth a quick detour. The church was built in the 13th century and sits on a little green on its own.
Return to the footpath over the stile, across the pasture and head up and into the hanger woodland. Woods on steep sided hills in the South Downs are known as hangers; many are ancient and have been around for more than 400 years and have particular species of orchids and rare molluscs living in them. At a crossroads of paths, take a right through the wood and up on to the lane.
Head south into the hamlet of Up Marden and follow signs to the church. St Michael’s is a 13th century structure and again reflects the simple nature of architecture in these rural downs, a place where shepherds could worship. Flint is the stone from this land and is put to good use on most buildings in the area.
Back to the start
From the church door take the footpath through the yew trees, across the field and past the old well house. Walk over the lane to the next field and wood and on to a bridleway.
Now head east and take the footpath north on the edge of Inholmes Wood, which heads back to East Marden through the farm and past some cottages on a bank on your right. Follow the footpath heading northeast opposite the red phone box hidden in the hedge. At the B2141 take care crossing and head north back
to Hooksway. Enjoy views the towards the Trundle Hill and Goodwood racecourse before returning for a well-earned rest.
Click here to head over to the OS Maps website for an interactive version of this route.