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). 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!
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 wild flowers 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 here, Ha’nacker Mill.
Guided walks in the South Downs
If you’d like to learn more about the history of the area reaching back over 500,000 years, local folktales and the now forgotten Sussex dialect, join me on a guided walk which you can book through Airbnb Experiences. The walk below lasts about three hours and as well as the windmill and tree tunnel, includes a visit to a local vineyard with a glass of their sparkling wine (over 18s only) and a visit to the ruins of a 12th-century priory. A shorter two-hour walk is also available.
Read more about all my guided walks in the South Downs here. If you do not see your preferred walk on the date of your choice, please just ask and I will add an additional date if I can.
Need to Know
The route is about a mile and a half there and back from Warehead Farm. There’s a small lay-by at the entrance to the farm on Denge Lane off the A285 with very limited parking. You can also get there by bus in about 20 minutes from Chichester. You can find out more about bus services by visiting Traveline. 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. The Old Store Guest House, also in the hamlet, is a pretty flint cottage offering B&B which is reputedly excellent too.
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