Walk: Hooksway to Beacon Hill

There are two starting points for this 5 mile (8 km) walk over the South Downs.

One is at the end of the cul-de-sac road climbing the steep scarp from Treyford village at SU823180.

I started from the Royal Oak pub at Hooksway which is at the end of another cul-de-sac road running north off the B2141 Lavant – South Harting road and is at SU815163. Five public tracks radiate from this pub but the one I took was off the minor access road so that I retraced my steps up hill and found a blue bridleway arrow into the western edge of Germanleith Copse and followed this north with open land to my left.

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The track kinks left/right and is joined by a footpath from the left as we walk on north to a track divergence. I take the left fork which brings us onto the private drive up to Telegraph House.

Originally this was an Admiralty signalling station, one of several between Portsmouth and London. A system of opening shutters transmitted strategic information very quickly and would most certainly have included that of Nelson’s victory at Trafalgar.

The present house was rebuilt by Frank Russell, brother of the philosopher Bertrand Russell who described his brother’s efforts as ‘ugly and rather absurd’. Frank also planted the copper beeches, while Bertrand ran a school which pandered to the more relaxed and foolish needs of the pupils and scandalised the locals.

This closed in 1934 when it moved to Essex. Turn right, following this drive with its copper beeches northward past the houses until just past a gate, meet the South Downs Way and turn left along this, north-westward.

At this junction to your right are the vestiges of a Bronze Age tumulus, but hard to see. The SDW now runs downhill into Bramshott Bottom, coming to a crossways in a long grassy dell which is rich with wild flowering plants. Turn right, east, climbing up to Beacon Hill Iron Age fort, then steep down, only to climb again up to Pen Hill where we follow the SDW once more. Note the three cross dykes which are an unusual feature of ancient workings.

The track winds left, downhill to a place mysteriously named Mount Sinai. Turn right at the edge of the woods here and follow the SDW to the valley above Buriton Farm.

At the crossways, and near the car-park described earlier, continue along SDW into Philliswood Downs woodland. This leads to another junction after passing a memorial to a Luftwaffe pilot and crew killed here in 1940, where we turn right down the stony track back to Hooksway.