On returning home for a visit this summer I decided to check out a local walk in the area Highdown Hill.
Now this hill I hadn’t touched for over 25 years partly because I have been doing a lot of travelling but also the memories of being made to run this hill for cross country running at my high school. (I was never a runner back then).
Where is Highdown Hill
Highdown hill is known for being a small section of the South Downs Way just outside the town of Worthing in West Sussex contryside. about 25 minutes from Brighton and an hour to London.
It’s offical postcode is BN12 6FB
The South Downs Way
The South Downs Way is one 16 national trails in England and Wales and spans across 2 counties Hampshire and Sussex. The trail is a 160km running and² cutting through hillsides and offering picturesque views.
You wind through small villages, pick up some great history, find cosy country pubs and a tea room or 2 along the way.
So with that said Highdown Hill is a small section of this great walk.
Lets Go Walking
Early morning I hopped out of bed child free for this journey and I said I’ll wash my child memories away and see if it was as bad as I remember.
Starting off in the village of Angmering at the Spotted Cow pub at 7am too early for a pre pint unfortunately. Heading east I came across a bridge. This was the first change from my memory as there was now a bypass going through by this field that was never present as a child.
As you hit the path to start climbing the Highdown Hill it wasn’t actually that bad it’s was obviously an incline but very gradual and nothing challenging at all. I had recently tackled Diamond Hill in Ireland and this was nothing to compared to that just a pleasant stroll.
Walking along I peered through the trees where I could see open farm land and what was a perfect reminder of my childhood memory the Roundestone Pick Your Own farm. It was here that as a youngster we would occasionally go Pick strawberries during the summer months.
Great Views Over Highdown Hill
Continuing up the hill the pathway widens and it is here where you can climb up to the top. Now I say climb it’s more of a stroll but it does give great elevation out over the Sussex Sea side.
I always remembered this point as the views up there are amazing to the South you have the sea views and to the north the beautiful green South Downs.
My only grumble and something that had changed since my last visit was as you look out to sea to the south east is many wind turbines are now scattered along the shore line. Nonetheless it was still a beautiful view.You continue to head over the downs when you come to a large look out in car park it is here you’d find the Highdown House and gardens.
Highdown House and Gardens
Highdown House and Gardens was a place to be honest i hadn’t payed much attention to as a youngster i knew about the club culture there in the 90’s but that was relitevly all i knew on this building and gardens.
20 years on is was extremely pleasing to take my time to look around and research this area and little did i know the exciting history it once held.
Highdown House History
Highdown house has a long history, built in 1820 by the Lyons family and later bought by Sir Frederick Stern. Sir Frederick was a man of many interests. Born into a family of merchant bankers he was educated at the highly rated Eton College.
A Before the war Sir Frederick devoted a lot of time big game hunting in Africa to where lots of trophies hung in his library.
During the first world war he was group commander of the West Sussex Home Guard. He was present in Gallipoli and Palestine and he even the military cross and later became a colonel.
After the war Sir Frederick and his now wife Lady Stern decided to create one of the more famous and unique gardens of its time and surprising the most with it’s surrounds of being a chalk pit. There were many expeditions to China and the Himalayas collecting rare plants to which many can be found today.
So much time was dedicated in introducing new plants to the area and the gardens became renowned with the horticulture industry. This was later rewarded with Stern being Knighted for services to horticulture.
When Stern passed away in 1967 a few years later on the wishes of Stern Lady Stern passed over the house and gardens to Worthing Borough Council to whom to this day have maintained and managed the gardens to Sterns original design.
Sterns The Club
In the 80’s the building was sold to the local Chapman group and in the 90’s became the renowned nightclub Sterns. Known for its unique layout of 4 rooms throughout the house. The promoter In-ter_dance ran club nights here and with this backing Sterns became one of the best known rave and hardcore dance clubs around the whole of Europe.
The lowest level of the building named “Underground” was the main attraction and where the big names played. With references seen all over to the London Underground.
Acts such as Prodigy, Grooverider, Carl Cox, Moby and Sasha have graced the building.
Sterns closed its doors and shortly after reopened as another night club the ‘Mansion House’ Although same venue and similar ideas the club never lived up to the Sterns reputation and closed in 1996.
In recent years the Highdown has once again enjoyed much success with it’s rather more subdued atmosphere than its past with a top quality, hotel, restaurant bar, tea rooms and of course the beautiful gardens. A perfect place for families and friends to enjoy this great piece of West Sussex history.
Back To The Walking
As mentioned i was reliving my past with the route i took but the Higdown Hill walk is a perfect little walk for all ages.
The full walk is a 2.5 mile circular walk which according to AllTrails the offical starting point is Highdown House where i ended. This makes sense as this is where there is ample parking.
The walk takes you through the line of the chalk ridge on the hill. You will see the Millers Tomb, an old hillfort and a unique looking windmill. With of course the finishing touches of the Highdown House and Gardens. There are plenty of little signs along to help you learn about the area and take it all in.
The walk consists of some steady climbs but there is no particular steep sections.
They open from 10am all year round and generally follow the path of dusk throughout the year.
Yes there is ample parking at the house and behind the house at the start of the walk.
The walking track is 2.5 miles long.
You should give yourself 1.5 hours to complete the walk.
One reply on “Highdown Hill and House”
The scenery looks beautiful in the South Downs. I did visit Worthing and Brighton about three years ago but didn’t make it there that time.