Route 6 Option 1

Wilmington to Alfriston via the Long Man & Lullington

3.7 miles / 6 km Hard

Follow this route to see the Long Man and enjoy spectacular views from the top of Windover Hill. Try the alternative route via Milton Street for a shorter and gentler walk.

Leave Wilmington Church. Outside the church is a famous yew tree which is thought to be 1,600 years old and one of the most ancient in the county. Turn right and leave the churchyard by the metal gate at the east end of the church. Walk south along the raised pavement above Wilmington Street. Over the wall on your right are buildings from a former Benedictine priory and the remains of the later 14th-century defensive tower. A little further along is the old ‘Village Pound’ where stray animals would have been penned until their owners could collect them, usually at the cost of a fine. Continue to the car park at the edge of the village.

Cross the road to a footpath which runs between two hedges beside the road. Then turn left and walk up the path which leads to the Long Man, a giant 235 ft (72 m) high chalk figure thought to date from the mid-16th century. Walk to the gate at the base of the Long Man. There are now two alternative routes, one which ascends to the top of hill above the Long Man and one which takes a shorter and lower route to the right. Both paths now cross chalk grassland that is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), a protected habitat which is species rich and of important conservation value (a botanical guide to the route is available).

To go the top of Windover Hill (702 ft/214 m)

Turn left and walk along the bottom of the escarpment for about 400 yds (365 m), passing a small copse on your left. Then take the first track on your right which doubles back above the lower path as it ascends diagonally to the top of the Downs. At the top the track bends round to the left through earthworks. Cross the fence into the field and then turn right to join the chalk track of the South Downs Way. The track passes through a gate and bears to the left of a prehistoric (2900–800 BC) tumulus.

From the top of the tumulus is a spectacular panoramic view of the low Weald to the north and the English Channel to the south. Return to the chalk track and follow it as it curves around a combe (short valley) and down to a minor road (about 0.5 miles/0.8 km).

To avoid ascending Windover Hill

To avoid the full ascent, turn right at the display board beneath the Long Man and follow a path which ascends the escarpment and then bends round to the left. The path meets a sunken chalk path. Go straight across this and follow the path until it joins the chalk track, the South Downs Way, which leads down to a minor road.

The two alternative routes have rejoined. Cross the minor road and take the track ahead of you. After about 100 yds (90 m) take the signposted path on your left which leaves the track over a stile to cross an open cultivated field. When you reach the first hedge follow it south, to the left (do not continue straight ahead across the next field) to the wooded edge of the field. Turn left and walk along the field edge up to Lullington Church, which is visible as you walk uphill to the churchyard gate.

The Good Shepherd, Lullington is one of the smallest churches in the country. Leave the churchyard by the same entrance and retrace the path for about 100 yds (90 m) along the field edge before going through a gap on your left and then turning right to take the footpath along the field edge down to Alfriston. Take care crossing the road on a blind corner and follow the tarmac path to the white footbridge over the river.