Harrow and Blackpatch Hills.

On Saturday I went for a walk inspired by the post of Malcolm Oakley, The Fairies of Harrow Hill. The forecast was excellent with good visibility, which is just what you need to enjoy the views. I arrived at a chilly Amberley after a 20 minute drive from home. I’d parked in School Lane so headed for the crossroads with the Storrington Road and crossed into Mill Lane.


As I walked, I looked along the scarp of the Downs, which gave me an idea of how high I had to climb to get onto the South Downs Way.


After only a few minutes walking I turned to see the Arun Valley opening out behind me. I could see the river, along with the castle and church in Amberley. Mill lane is quite steep so got my heart rate up at the start of the walk. After a while I turned  off  the lane onto a flint and chalk path which was damp and slippery under foot. Once off this and onto the grass path it was much easier to walk.


Up ahead I could hear cows making a lot of noise. They were all congregated in the corner of the field, presumably waiting for food.


I hadn’t even reached the top of the hill but the views were already spectacular with Amberley Wild Brooks off to the north with the flood water in them.Soon it was time to leave the South Downs Way and head towards Harrow Hill and Blackpatch Hill. I turned off at Rackham Banks passing tumuli on the left.


The next 10 minutes of the walk were spent in a tunnel of hedges with no views either way, which was a bit frustrating. Once I did get out in the open I could see towards Arundel with the castle sitting on the hillside and some of the bends in the Arun visible. Off in the distance I could see Littlehampton and the sea. It was whilst walking along here that I got what I realised was my first view of Harrow Hill in the distance.


As I came up to the track that would take me through Lee Farm, 3 race horses came from the opposite direction and were galloping around a field.


Harrow Hill was in front of me as I walked down the farm track and it was an imposing sight. Down here in the lee of the hills it was getting warm so took my coat and hat off.


It wasn’t long before I’d gained a bit of height climbing Harrow Hill giving great views all around like this one looking back toward Lee Farm. As I’d walked through the farmyard I heard lambs in a shed. I peeked in and saw a new born lamb, still covered in birth fluid, trying to stand up.


When I was around the other side of the hill I entered a copse which was very awkward to walk on because you’re walking along the slope. I came across a clearing and decided to stop for a bite to eat. It was really warm sitting here in the sun. As I sat there a Red Kite flew along the tree tops just in front of me. It was one of many magic moments on this walk.


I could see Blackpatch Hill from where I sat so knew what was in store for me. I carried on through the copse then walked across a field which had been ploughed. It was horrible to walk on. I always thought if there is a footpath they had to leave it unploughed, or flatten it afterwards.



Now I had the long climb up Blackpatch Hill.It wasn’t made any easier by the strong wind that was blowing here.


Eventually I reached the trig point at the top. The views around were fantastic. I could see over to Harrow Hill, even the spot where I stopped for my cake stop. I walked down the hill on a different path which gave me good views over to the East.


I passed this ewe with her lamb on the way down and thought that this scene probably hasn’t changed for hundreds of years. I’m sure the people who mined the flint on Harrow Hill would have kept sheep up here.


As I walked back to the South Downs Way a group of people were walking towards me. As they got closer I saw that it was a group of teenagers. They were singing “Bingo Was His Name O” I stopped to talk to them and found out they were on a 36 km walk for The Duke of Edinburgh Award. We wished each other good walks and I went on my way. Behind I could see Harrow (on the right) and Blackpatch Hills.


When I got up onto the SDW the views were incredible and the scarp is very spectacular.I could see down to Storrington and over to Pulborough.


Eventually I was back at Amberley Mount with it’s views across the Wildbrooks. This had been the longest hilly walk I’d ever done, 12.5 miles, and it was all new territory for me. There is lots more to explore in the area so I’ll be back again.Screenshot 2015-03-17 16.41.23


2 thoughts on “Harrow and Blackpatch Hills.

  1. Great article, it’s not hard to imagine Blackpatch Hill as it might have been 100s of years ago.

    Harrow Hill with its flint mines is almost mystical as it looks on.

    Glad you enjoyed the walk.

    1. I felt “something” several times doing this walk. The first time was on the tumulus overlooking Rackham. To think of the work that went onto digging the ditch with the tools they had. The only other time I’ve felt things is when I went for a 4 day ride around Hants, Wilts and Dorset. Around Old Sarum and Salisbury feels very mystical.

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