Take Sussex walk around West Dean near Chichester this Easter
PUBLISHED: 10:19 07 April 2014 | UPDATED: 10:19 07 April 2014
Hazel Sillver, except where noted in image name
On this month’s walk, Hazel Sillver enjoys the pine woods and wild daffodils of West Dean
Location: West Dean, near Chichester, West Sussex
Distance: 3.5 miles (5.6km) – 1.5 hrs to walk
Terrain: Very gentle uphill and downhill; paths can be muddy.
Where to park: As you drive into West Dean (headed north on the A286) take the first turn on the left (opposite The Dean pub). After 1.5 miles, after a long stretch of straight road, there is a turning on the left, opposite a gate. Park next to the gate.
1 Walk through the opening next to the gate and walk up the wide track between woodland and fields.
2 After 1 mile there is a crossing of five ways. Head straight on into woodland.
3 The path gradually slopes uphill. Where the way divides, bear left.
4 At the crossways (where there is a wood-cutting yard) maintain direction straight ahead.
5 Ignore joining paths and maintain direction.
6 You will reach a flat area, where five paths cross. Go straight ahead and then take the path on the left, after just a few metres.
7 Walk through Venus Wood and eventually emerge at a field. Here turn left and walk alongside the field.
8 Soon you will reach the first of artist Andy Goldsworthy’s chalk balls. Ignore the path left here and continue alongside the field.
9 After about 100 metres, the way divides – take the path straight on, heading back into woodland.
10 Almost immediately there are three paths forking away. Continue straight ahead.
11 At the crossways and the next chalk ball, continue straight ahead through pine trees.
12 Follow the blue signs. You will walk through deciduous woods, and pass the ruin of a flint building (on your right). Several paths join from the left, but maintain your direction.
13 You will eventually emerge at a crossing of five paths and a clearing in the woodland. Head left through pine trees.
14 At the next chalk ball, ignore the path on the left and continue straight on.
15 The path will bring you through swathes of wild daffodils, which open (weather permitting) in mid-late March, and hazel coppice woods.
16 Follow the path downhill through hedgerow; be careful with dogs because the road comes close to the path at the bottom.
17 At the end of the grassy path, go through the gate, turn left and walk along the road for a few metres. At the corner, head up onto the footpath, which runs along the edge of a field.
18 Go down the slope, along the road and back to the car.
West Dean daffodils
The wild daffodils at West Dean, which are cared for by The Sussex Wildlife Trust, are Narcissus pseudonarcissus, commonly known as ‘Lent lily’. This species is famously connected to the Wordsworth family. After seeing a mass of them, while walking with her brother in the Lake District, Dorothy Wordsworth wrote: “I never saw daffodils so beautiful...some rested their heads upon the stones as on a pillow for weariness and the rest tossed and reeled and danced and seemed as if they verily laughed with the wind that blew upon them…” It is thought that this diary entry inspired her brother William to write his famous Daffodils poem.
Andy Goldsworthy’s chalk stones
The walk encompasses some of the 13 boulders that make up The Chalk Stones Trail, created by Andy Goldsworthy in 2002. The environmental artist took chalk from a downland quarry and chiselled it into 6-7ft boules. Goldsworthy is famous for creating landscape art with local natural materials. He has said of these sculptures: “For me chalk has mythical, magical properties. Coming from the Scottish borders, as I do, the idea of digging a hole and finding it white seems totally contradictory. It runs against all my ideas about what is under the ground. Dig a hole up north and it’s dark and earthy. So to dig a hole in Sussex and find chalk, so absolutely pristine and pure and white, I felt it was like finding the sky in the ground.”
For a pub lunch
The Star & Garter in East Dean is very good and a 15-minute drive. Head north on the A286, turn right at Singleton and drive along Charlton Road to East Dean.
01243 811318, PO18 0JG; thestarandgarter.co.uk
For breakfast, lunch or afternoon tea
Wellies Restaurant & Tearooms - A 10-minute drive. Head south on the A286, after Lavant turn right onto Hunters Race and then right again onto West Stoke Road.
01243 819007, PO18 9AA; welliesrestaurant.co.uk