One of the best ways to see the Halnaker Tree Tunnel in West Sussex is by following the Halnaker Windmill Trail.
By taking this circular route, you don’t just see the tree tunnel, but get to visit the beautiful Halnaker Windmill and Boxgrove Priory too.
You’ve probably seen pictures of the Halnaker Tree Tunnel in autumn, when the golden canopy is arguably at its finest. This natural landmark in West Sussex is one of England’s most famous tree tunnels and undoubtedly one of the prettiest. Catching the perfect shot of the Halnaker’s iconic tree tunnel in autumn is a photographer’s dream. And although I’m no great photographer, it was high on my list of things to see on our recent trip to Chichester, West Sussex.
Read on to find out about our walk through the spectacular tree tunnel on the Halnaker Windmill Trail.
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Where to start the Halnaker Windmill Trail
- Distance: 5 miles/8km
- Type of walk: circular
- Time: approx 1.5 hours
- Ascent: 300 feet/91 metres
- Difficulty: moderate, flat but eneven terrain, kissing gates, 1 hill
Our walk to the Halnaker Tree Tunnel and Windmill starts in the little village of Boxgrove, just 4 miles north east of the city of Chichester. After an early stop for breakfast in Chichester and a visit inside the stunning cathedral, we drove to Boxgrove.
The Halnaker Windmill Trail starts in the north end of the car park at Boxgrove Village Hall. The postcode for the car park at Boxgrove Village Hall is PO18 0EE.
From here the Halnaker Windmill Trail is well signposted all the way. (Thankfully – as even I couldn’t go wrong on this route!) After crossing the road, the walk starts by skirting the open fields of the Tinwood Estate.
Click here for the Halnaker Windmill Trail leaflet and map.
The walk to the Halnaker Tree Tunnel
After a short while, you’ll arrive at the entrance to Warehead Farm. From here follow the path up Denge Lane (taking the right fork) into Mill Lane and the track leading to the Halnaker Tree Tunnel.
The walk to the Halnaker Tree Tunnel is really easy and doesn’t take long at all.
The Halnaker Tree Tunnel in Mill Road has formed naturally, as trees from each side of the track grew into an archway. The well-trodden lane was originally part of the Roman road for people travelling the 57 miles between London and Chichester.
Frequent footfall over the centuries has resulted in a sunken track and holloway, now considered one of the prettiest tree tunnels in Britain. Although, the Halnaker tree tunnel is particularly spectacular in autumn, it is a pretty route throughout the year.
It is one of the most iconic photo spots in West Sussex. However, if you go at the weekend, expect it to be busy!
The walk to Halnaker Windmill
Once you’ve walked through the tree tunnel, the path leads north to Halnaker Windmill. You will see the windmill sitting atop the hill, so just follow the track up to it. The walk up Halnaker Hill to the windmill is the only steep part of the route, but this stretch only takes about 10 minutes.
Halnaker Windmill has a magnificent position overlooking the South Downs National Park.
The original windmill was part of the Goodwood Estate and is recorded as early as 1540. The current four-storey mill has been there since the end of the 18th century. It is now a Grade-II listed building. It was a working mill until lightning struck it in 1905. West Sussex County Council have since restored the windmill to its current state.
You can’t go inside the windmill, but visitors can walk around the perimeter and enjoy views over the surrounding countryside.
History-lovers might also enjoy a walk to the other side of the hilltop to see the remains of a WWII structure. It is the base of the radio direction founders used by the RAF during the war and is also a listed building.
Once you’ve seen Halnaker Windmill, retrace your steps down the hill and around the field. At this point you can return the way you came. However, if you’re following the Halnaker Windmill Circular Trail bear left at the road and continue following the signs.
The Halnaker Windmill Trail will now lead you across the picturesque Tinwood Vineyard. The vineyard produces fine English sparkling wine. You can book a tour of the vineyard or stop for an afternoon tea. You can even stay the night at one of their luxury lodges.
Click here for prices and availability of Tinwood Vineyard Lodges on Booking.com
Following the signposts will lead you around a field to Boxgrove Priory.
We cut through the back of the graveyard to reach the ruins of Boxgrove Priory. However, if you continue to the end of the hedgerow, there’s a short path which leads to Church Lane.
The 12th century Boxgrove Abbey was founded when the Saxon church and its lands were given by the Lord of Halnaker to the abbey of Lessay in Normandy. It replaced a small community of canons.
The Benedictine Boxgrove Priory was not large and the ruins you see today in the farm courtyard are of its 14th century Guest House. However, after a quick walk round the ruins we received a warm welcome into the Church of St Blaise. On the left-hand side of the church doors, you can see the ruins of the Priory walls.
Boxgrove Priory is managed by English Heritage and admission is free
If the name Boxgrove sounds familiar, you may remember the news of Boxgrove Man, or at least his remains! In 1993, archaeologist Mark Jones discovered bones belonging to Boxgrove Man in a gravel pit at Boxgrove. The archaeology team later found flint and animal remains too.
The remains are over 500 000 years old, making Boxgrove an extremely significant archaeological site. In fact, the shin bone and two teeth represent the earliest evidence of human occupation in Britain. You can’t enter the site, but it’s good to know!
Refreshments in Boxgrove
Our final stop of the morning was at Boxgrove’s pub, the Anglesey Arms. The pub has its own car park, but it is only a five-minute walk from the Village Hall car park.
This lovely country pub dates from 1815 and still has a cosy, traditional feel. It has a good size beer garden. It is advisable to book if you want to eat at the weekend.
Know before you go
Getting to Boxgrove
Boxgrove is in the South of England, on the edge of the South Downs National Park.
From Surrey, you can take the A331/A286,. This pretty route leads through the Surrey Hills and South Downs National Park. The drive takes just over an hour.
From London, you can drive on the A3 or A24 and it will take about 1.5 hours.
If you are coming by public transport, the nearest train station is Chichester, 4 miles away. You can then take the number 55 bus, which will connect visitors with Halnaker and Boxgrove
Accommodation in Boxgrove
Have you been to the Halnaker Tunnel? We’d love to hear your comments below.
Pin for later: A circular walk on the Halnaker Windmill Trail
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