Last week I walked around the Iron Age fort on the Trundle. This week I have plodded around the rim of another: Cissbury, which is in the Findon valley a couple of miles north of Worthing.
This walk of 2.5 miles (4kms) is the shortest of the approaches with a car park under the west side of the hill 300 yards off the A24 at TQ129076. Follow the white arrow NE past white poplars and on into a rue with lots of different shrubs including hawthorn, blackthorn, sycamore, dogwood, privet and ivy on which scores of hoverflies and bees are nectaring. There is also box and berberis. You now walk alongside the NT meadows of downland grass where 8 species of wild orchids grow in summer. There is also scabious, with its corn-flower-blue heads of florets like cushions.
The meadow is famous among botanists for that rarity called fleawort: Senecio integrifolius. It looks like a dumpy version of ragwort with a short stem, whitish green leaves and a cluster of big yellow flowers. There should be 28 species of butterflies within the nature reserve, including adonis and chalkhill blues, also dark green fritillaries.
You come to a second car park at the end of the minor road from Findon. Six paths meet here by an old dew pond. Take blue arrow, second right, SE, climbing up the side of the hill. Old hawthorns and whitebeams here, and surprisingly, some hart’s tongue ferns growing on the spring line. Climb up for 450 yards.
You can then enter the 60 acre circle with its monolithic earth banks which in themselves cover another 11 acres. This is a nice place to picnic on a fine day with good views all around. Chanctonbury Ring is two miles to the north.
To the east runs Monarch’s Way over the Downs. To the south is the gleaming silver sea beyond Worthing. Paths criss-cross the fort but I always like to keep on the rim clockwise to the right. From here you can see the Roman field banks or lynchets inside the rim. Far below to the left is Deep Bottom, where they had vineyards.
Carrying onwards, SW, you will pass the flint mines which Neolithic people quarried 6,500 years ago and where the skeleton of a young woman was discovered. See Nature Trails for details of what may have been a murder.
Following the rim around to the NE will bring you to some concrete steps descending downhill to the left unless you want to complete the circle back to your outgoing path.
There is a fine selection of chalk-loving shrubs growing here including wayfaring, buckthorn, privet, dogwood and bramble, all now having clusters of luscious berries.
Down in the car park I admired some lucky person’s Morris Traveller painted gleaming almond green. Wish I had the ignition keys.