Loop walk on the South Down Way, great views everywhere

As well as the great views across to the North Downs discover a pub hidden away in a quiet valley, Bronze Age hill fort, attractive beech woods and a Grade II listed building. This is a walk not to be missed.

The loop walk on the South Down Way touches just a small section of this National Trail, which stretches from Winchester to Eastbourne. From the start of the walk experience stunning views across the countryside. The 6.5 mile path involves climbs of over 1400 ft and will probably take about 3 ½ hours.

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2 minute highlights of the walk

From the car park to Cross Dyke

Take the road south (B2146) from the pretty village of South Harting forking left onto the B1421 and stop at the car park. The short drive from the village saves a climb of nearly 200 m. Having parked the car follow the map east wards.

As you walk along the ridge you will have stunning views across the valley below to South Haring and the surrounding countryside.

The first significant rise takes you up to Cross Dyke, a Bronze Age earthwork which are more than 3,000 years old. Current archaeology thinking suggests these works represented territorial boundaries between communities.

Beacon Hill

From Cross Dykes the path descends down to Bramshott Bottom. From here you can see the steep rise to Beacon Hill.

Beacon Hill the highest point on the Loop walk on the South Down Way
Beacon Hill ahead

Expect to climb over 250 ft from the bottom to the peak of Beacon Hill. Also called Harting Beacon excavations reveal the area to have been a Bronze Age hill fort.

Penn Hill to Buriton Farm

Following a short descent the path rises again to Penn Hill. We tried to avoid another climb and passed to the side of the hill.

Beech trees at Penn Hill on the Loop walk on the South Down Way
Beside Penn Hill

This slight detour led us into a wooded area with a lot of ducking and diving under the trees. Next time round we will undoubtedly take the higher route.

From Penn Hill the route descends towards Buriton Farm. The views remain excellent as you progress down the hill.

The route to Buriton Farm on the Loop walk on the South Down Way
Heading towards Buriton Farm

After the farm on your right the path sweeps round and becomes a track.

The path widens on the Loop walk on the South Down Way
The track past Buriton Farm

The path climbs again.

Philliswood Down

The rise is steady through Philliswood. You may notice a plaque to a German fighter pilot who was shot down and killed on the first day of the Battle of Britain, 13 August 1940.

This beech tree wood provided welcome relief from the hot sunny weather.

A beautiful wood on the Loop walk on the South Down Way

As you proceed along the path you will come across a crossing. Take the sharp right down the hill. You have now left the South Down Way, but you are still on the Loop walk on the South Down Way.

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At this point you leave The South Down Way
Leave the South Down Way

As you proceed along the path you begin to realise how high you have climbed as the descent seems to continue on and on. At the bottom you’ll arrive at a pretty looking Pub.

The hidden pub on the Loop walk on the South Down Way
The Royal Oak

The history of the Royal Oak goes back to the 15th century. I recommend you read this link which tells the story of one family who owned the inn and had 11 children. The link provides a real insight into working class life in a rural community.

When we entered the premises we found the landlord extremely rude and quickly left despite being thirsty.

To Telegraph House

At the bottom of the descent take a sharp right and begin to climb again.

Head towards Telegraph House on the Loop walk on the South Down Way
Climb again

After a sheltered path the route opens up and ahead of you in the distance sits a small cottage with a lovely view across the hills and fields.

Sheltered cottage with great views

Open the gate at the end of the path and enter a beautiful avenue of beech trees.

Lovely shady avenue on the Loop walk on the South Down Way
Beech avenue

The avenue leads straight into Telegraph House. The original building on this site was set up by the Admiralty as part of a chain of similar locations to transmit messages from Portsmouth to London by semaphore. The house’s role in communications ended in the 1840s with the improved rail communications with the coast.

The property was purchased in 1927 by Bertrand Russell and his wife Dora Black. They established a school based on the principal that children learn best when un-supervised. The experiment didn’t last. Telegraph House is now a Grade II listed building.

Back towards the South Down Way

The path widens out as you leave Telegraph House.

An easy track on the Loop walk on the South Down Way

Just beyond there is a lovely view across Bramshott Bottom showing all the shades of green on the trees below.

Looking across Bramshott Bottom on the Loop walk on the South Down Way
View of Bramshott Bottom

Follow the path down to Bramshott Bottom and rejoin the South Down Way to return along the ridge to the car park. You will have walked 6.5 miles across glorious countryside and climbed 436 m (1400 ft) in the process. A thouroughly enjoyable hike.

What Next?

If you enjoyed the Loop walk on the South Down Way you can find other great walks at Find A Walk – Britain.

Do you have a favourite walk? We are always looking for new walks that everyone can enjoy. Please go to Share your walk and find out how to add your favourite route to the web site.

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