Sussex walk around Bramber and Upper Beeding

The South Downs Way crosses the River Adur near Botolphs

The South Downs Way crosses the River Adur near Botolphs - Credit: Hazel Sillver

Hazel Sillver visits three old churches and a castle ruin on this circular riverside stroll

Three Churches

The walk passes the three lovely old churches of Upper Beeding, Bramber, and Botolphs, which together form the local Church of England parish. First we come to St Peter’s Church in Upper Beeding, which is thought to date back to the 12th century and is mentioned in the Domesday Book; followed by St Nicholas’ at Bramber, which was built in the 11th century as the chapel for the residents of Bramber Castle; and finally St Botolph’s Church at Botolphs hamlet, which dates back to the late 11th century and boasts fragments of medieval wall paintings. For more information, go to

Bramber Castle

Once a Norman stronghold, Bramber Castle is now a small ruin overlooking the River Adur. Constructed in 1073 after the Norman Conquest by William de Braose, it was a seat of defense and administration. It remained in the de Braose family until 1450, and was occupied by Roundhead forces during the Civil War. Subsidence led to its eventual ruin, and the stone was used locally to build roads. For further information, go to

Where to refuel

The 17th century Castle Inn in Bramber offers a traditional hearty menu with some vegetarian options, as well as Sunday roasts and a sandwich board. You can sit in one of the dining rooms or in the more informal bar. Steyning is very close and boasts a café (The Sussex Produce Company), and a tea room (Steyning Tea Rooms).


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• Location: Upper Beeding, near Steyning

• Distance: four miles – one and a half to two hours’ walk

• Terrain: bridleways; river and woodland paths, which can be muddy and uneven; two short steep sections

• Where to park: In the long lay-by just south of the Upper Beeding roundabout on the A283.

The walk

1. From the lay-by car park, head along the hard track that leads between hedging and a field, and then turns right towards a bridge. Just before the bridge, head right through a gate, and walk alongside the river for half a mile.

2. The riverside path leads under the road bridge; the path takes you through scrub and then continues alongside the river for half a mile, eventually leading past houses.

3. Cross the road and continue straight on, following the riverbank path on the same side of the river. The path soon takes you through a gate.

4. The path leads through another gate, and continues alongside the river. If you would like to visit St Peter’s Church, take a short detour here: head right, going over the footbridge, and up steps. Walk straight on past the graveyard, and turn into the yew allée that leads to the church. Otherwise carry on along the river path to the bridge.

5. Cross over the bridge and bear right. Then immediately follow the hard track diagonally across a field towards a signpost. Cross the ditch and head left across the field towards houses.

6. Go through the metal gate. The hard path leads between hedgerow, and the backs of gardens.

7. Where the way divides, head straight on up the steep bank. Follow the narrow path, which leads through woodland, aside Bramber Castle’s defensive ditch.

8. Stay on the path alongside the ditch, and you will soon reach St Nicholas’ Church and the ruin of Bramber Castle. After exploring, head right downhill on the wide gravel lane, towards a roundabout. Head left, cross the road (signed to Bramber), and continue on the Downs Link bridleway, which runs alongside the main road.

9. At the sign, cross the main road. Be careful, as traffic is very fast on this stretch of main road. On the other side, the path leads through trees. On meeting another path, head right and continue along the bridleway for another half a mile.

10. If you would like to make a short detour to visit St Botolph’s Church, on meeting another path at the corner, head right towards the road. At the road, turn left, walking along the side of the road for a short while until you reach the church. Otherwise, head left at the corner.On reaching the river, head right towards the bridge. Cross the bridge, and walk straight on back to the car.


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