Whenever I share this photograph on social media it causes a bit of a stir and many people have asked where it was taken.
It’s called Mill Lane. It’s a public footpath in Halnaker (pronounced Ha’naker), a hamlet a few miles north of Chichester in West Sussex, in the South Downs National Park. The lane follows an ancient track along the route of Stane Street, the London to Chichester Roman road.
Over the years many have walked along this route forming a hollow way, where the path has sunk down, worn away by centuries of footfall.
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Finding the tunnel of trees in Halnaker, West Sussex
You can find the path where these photographs were taken by starting at Warehead Farm in Halnaker and heading north-east up Denge Lane (the right-hand branch) into Mill Lane. However, there is very limited parking here, so your best bet is to park in the nearby village of Boxgrove at the village hall. You’ll find further details and a map at the end of this article.
From the farm, it won’t be long before you are surrounded by a magical tunnel of trees. It feels like you are walking into a fairytale or maybe The Shire in Middle Earth. I’m sure I’ll bump into a hobbit here one day!
Learn about local history and folklore on a guided walk
If you’d like to join me for a longer walk (4 miles) that includes this tunnel of trees and the windmill as well as a local vineyard and learn about local history dating back over 500,000 years, Sussex folktales and wine, I run guided walks here. Find out more by visiting my website, Sussex Walks.
“My daughter and I walked with Kathryn today and had a fabulous time! Not only is Kathryn a lovely person, she also knows a lot about the area and is an excellent storyteller. She happily adapted to our pace and preferences and at the end gave me plenty of tips about where to eat and tour locally. We chatted and laughed and it felt like walking with a friend. Highly recommended – thank you Kathryn!”
Once the tunnel of trees has ended it is well worth continuing along the footpath as it turns north up Halnaker Hill, at the top of which you’ll find Halnaker Windmill. The views across the surrounding countryside are spectacular. You can even see the sea on a clear day.
The hill itself is chalk grassland. The wildflowers you can find here include the rare Pyramidal Orchid and Common Spotted Orchid. Keep an eye open for butterflies including the Red Admiral, Common Blue and Marbled White. You may well hear a Skylark or see a Buzzard soaring overhead.
The top of Halnaker Hill is a Scheduled Ancient Monument, as it is the location of a Neolithic earthwork structure known as a ’causewayed enclosure’. This scheduling includes a World War 2 radiowave direction finding structures as well as the windmill, which is also a Grade 2 listed building.
above: Halnaker Windmill 2016, below: the restored windmill in 2018
Halnaker’s original mill was built for the Duke of Richmond and the Goodwood Estate and was first recorded in 1540. The present-day mill dates back to the mid 18th century and was a working mill until it was struck by lightning in 1905. A lovely yet melancholy poem about the derelict mill was written by Hilaire Belloc in 1923. You can read it here, Ha’nacker Mill.
Need to Know
There’s a small lay-by at the entrance to the farm on Denge Lane off the A285 with very limited parking. PLEASE PARK RESPONSIBLY and do not block the access to the farm or the houses. Parking here has become a particular problem for the farm and residents. It was the farmer who created the tree tunnel so please, thank him by parking safely and without blocking access to any of the properties.
Better still, park in the nearby village of Boxgrove in their village hall car park.
The nearest train station is Chichester. From there, you can get to Halnaker by bus in about 20 minutes. You can find out more about bus services by visiting Traveline.
On foot from Boxgrove or Halnaker
There is a footpath from Boxgrove to Halnaker that runs along the main road but it is separated from the road by a hedge. When this path ends follow the pavement round to the right to The Anglesey Arms. From Halnaker, please do not go via the main road to Warhead Farm as there is no pavement for a portion of the root. Instead, go to the footpath at the bottom of the garden at The Anglesey Arms and turn left.
Follow the path until you reach a tarmac lane and turn right. Just a short way along this quiet road you’ll see another public footpath sign that leads across the fields. Follow this path until you reach the main road. Carefully cross the road and you’ll be at Warehead Farm. From the farm, turn right to the tree tunnel. Please note the path through the fields is covered in flints and there are a number of stiles along the route.
From Boxgrove, the route to the windmill is about two miles each way and from Halnaker it’s about one and a half miles each way.
There’s a traditional country pub in Halnaker, The Angelsey Arms, which serves very good food, including Sunday roasts and has a 2 acre garden with outdoor seating. There is also a cafe come village store in Boxgrove called Boxies.
Where to stay
There are a number of listed buildings in Halnaker that now offer Bed & Breakfast or self-catering holidays including The Old Store Guest House, a pretty flint cottage with an excellent reputation as a B&B.
Ordnance Survey Map: OS EXPLORER OL10 Covering Arundel, Pulborough, Worthing & Bognor Regis (and this part of the South Downs), this map shows all the public footpaths and bridleways in the area and is perfect for walkers.
Click here for more accommodation options in and around Chichester.
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