Halnaker Windmill Trail

2 Ramblers Explore Boxgrove & the Halnaker Windmill Trail

This walk came to us by chance, perhaps being a benefit of “liking” pages on Facebook.  We have reached an age where we prefer shorter walks of 5 to 7 miles and this one promised only 5 miles with lots of interesting things to see along the way. This walk can be described as a balloon on a string, being neither just circular nor linear.  Whilst not a particularly strenuous walk, there is 359ft (109 metre) of ascent involved.

We set out on a beautiful sunny day and parked in the spacious Boxgrove Village Hall CP at GR: SU907076 and followed instructions that took us straight onto the Windmill Trail, alongside a wheat field from which we could see the windmill in the distance on the left.  

Yes, I’m facing backwards

We soon came to an unusual avenue of trees bordering the track whilst to one side were rows of vines.  We wondered how the tiny bunches of grapes would fare, given the unseasonable weather we have experienced this year.

Then there was the busy A285 to cross before entering the famous archway of trees that was once part of the Roman road that ran between London and Chichester.

The windmill was, unsurprisingly, approached by walking up a hill, a gradual climb and very easy.  The surrounding fields were now sporting barley crops.  We walked around the windmill, admiring the 360° views, including Chichester, Goodwood, the Isle of Wight and lots of woodland. 

We were intrigued by an ugly red brick building not far from the windmill that we discovered to be the remains of a WW2 structure that’s use had been to support a radio direction finder, monitoring the comings and goings of aircraft.

We sat on a conveniently positioned bench to admire the views before retracing our steps (the aforementioned balloon string), down the hill where we spent some time photographing various insects.

We passed Tinwood Vineyard on our right and the disused Boxgrove Quarry that we could not see on our left in woodland but have since learned, to our astonishment, that it has become an important palaeolithic site where a 500,000-year-old part of a human leg was found, currently the oldest human (hominin) remains in the British Isles.

Continuing onwards, the path bordered more vines and eventually took us to a field across which there were views of Boxgrove Priory and the Church of St Blaise, framed by trees in the distance.  The walk almost over, we took a brief but worthwhile visit to the Church and the Priory.  The Church is surprisingly large and dates from about 1120 and is now the Parish Church.  The Priory was founded in 1105 when 3 monks were sent from Normandy to administer the changes of the existing Saxon Church.  The Priory was dissolved in 1537 but the Church’s development continued and the ceiling was painted at the behest of Thomas de la Warr, Lord of the Manor.  The ceiling is still a sight to behold and visitors are welcome.

Priory Ruins
St. Blaise painted ceiling

Our final stretch took us past some historic Alms Houses and then back to the Carpark. A very interesting morning’s walk.

Linda & Paul

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