Sussex walk around Iping and Stedham Commons

The heath of Iping Common is a patchwork of gorse, heather, moor grass, birch and pine

The heath of Iping Common is a patchwork of gorse, heather, moor grass, birch and pine - Credit: Archant

Enjoy heather-carpeted heath and fragrant pine woodland on this circular stroll

Iping and Stedham Commons

The rugged beauty of Iping and Stedham Commons is at its best in midsummer when the open heathland is carpeted with heather and the air aflutter with clouds of butterflies. This lowland heath, which is managed by Sussex Wildlife Trust, is a great place to spot the Silver-studded Blue butterfly, which feeds on the heather and relies upon the black ants that live here to tend its young. Attracted by the sugar secreted by the larvae, the ants take them down into their subterranean nests to tend them until they emerge the following year as adult butterflies. The heath is also home to birds (such as woodlarks, stonechats and Dartford warblers), lizards, dragonflies and crickets, which fill the air with their scratchy chirp; on a hot day, you may also hear the popping sound of gorse pods exploding to disperse their seed onto the scorched sandy ground.


• Location: Stedham, near Midhurst, West Sussex

• Distance: 3 miles (4.8km) – 1.5 hours to walk.

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• Terrain: mostly flat; sandy heathland paths and woodland tracks

• Where to park: In the Iping and Stedham Commons car park. Heading west out of Midhurst on the A272, take the third turning on the left towards Elsted. The car park is quarter of a mile on the right.

The walk

1 Head east out of the car park, crossing the road and going through a gate into woodland. Maintain direction. The path leads past open heath and pine trees.

2 Ignore the path right after the clump of pine trees and take the next right before a signpost, heading along a narrow sandy path through silver birch trees. Upon reaching an open area, where paths meet, maintain direction – the wider path heads downslope and then curves left.

3 The path leads through young birch and then pine woodland before bringing you to a crossways of paths just before a gate and a road. Head right here, walking along a narrow path through rhododendrons. Go over the footbridge and then at the gate, head right, walking alongside a fence. Follow this path for almost half a mile.

4 Before the gate, veer right along a narrow path through bracken to a gate and a road. Turn left before the gate and after a few metres go through a gate and walk along the narrow path through pines for quarter of a mile.

5 At the signpost head left, heading right at the next signpost. Then head left just before reaching the road.

6 At the signpost go right, crossing over the road to a gate, and walk along a path through rhododendrons. At the next signpost, head right along a path that leads downslope to a road. Cross over the road onto the heath.

7 You will come to a crossing of paths – head straight on along a narrow path under pines. At the next crossing of paths and a signpost, continue straight ahead again, over the heath. The path leads upslope to pine trees.

8 As you reach the pine trees, head right on the wide track. After a few metres head right again at the signpost. Follow the sandy path, enjoying the views. Ignore the path that leads right.

9 At the bench head right, walking along the wide sandy track. Ignore all paths that lead off to the right and left and maintain direction for half a mile. Just before you reach the road, there is a path right to the car park, which should be visible if it’s full of cars!

Where to refuel - The Elsted Inn

A nice country pub offering tasty sandwiches and salads, as well as hearty meals; everything is prepared with local ingredients and there are vegetarian options on the menu. Families and dogs are welcome. To find the pub, head right out of the car park and drive along Elsted Road for a mile and a half. There are also lots of tearooms and cafes in Midhurst.

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