Whenever we share this photograph of Halnaker tree tunnel on social media it causes a bit of a stir and many people ask where it was taken. This beautiful location is in the South Downs National Park. Mill Lane is a public footpath in Halnaker (pronounced Ha’naker), a hamlet a few miles north of Chichester in West Sussex.
The lane follows an ancient track along the route of Stane Street, the 57-mile long London to Chichester Roman road. Over the years many have walked the ancient Roman road causing this part of the lane to form into a hollow way, worn away by centuries of footfall.
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Monarch’s Way, the escape route of King Charles II, also takes in part of Stane Street so there’s a lot of history in the area.
Finding the tunnel of trees in Halnaker, West Sussex
You can find the path where these photographs were taken by starting at Warehead Farm in Halnaker and heading north-east up Denge Lane (the right-hand branch) into Mill Lane.
There is very limited parking here and the best place to park is in the nearby village of Boxgrove at the village hall. The trail signs, which feature a windmill, are at the northern end of the car park. You should see another signpost directly over the road. You’ll find further details and a map at the end of this article.
The trail is well signed as the “Windmill Trail” and from the farm, it’s not far before you are surrounded by this magical tunnel of trees. It feels like walking into a fairytale or maybe The Shire in Middle Earth. I’m sure I’ll bump into a hobbit here one day!
Halnaker Windmill Trail is of moderate difficulty, with kissing gates and stiles. It’s mainly on the flat to start with along farm tracks, paths and fields with some uneven terrain. At one point you’ll need to cross a country road which can get busy so take care when crossing. The final hike up to the windmill is up a hill with an ascent of 300 feet but is not challenging to anyone of moderate fitness.
Distance: 5 miles / 8 kilometres
Duration: 1.5 / 2 hours
Ascent: 300 feet / 91 meters
Difficulty: Moderate. Flat but eneven terrain, kissing gates, 1 hill
Halnaker Tree Tunnel: the Old Roman Road from London to Chichester
Learn about local history and folklore on a guided walk
For more in-depth experience join Kathryn for a longer walk (4-miles) that includes this tunnel of trees and the windmill as well as a local vineyard. You’ll also learn about local history dating back over 500,000 years. Kathryn is also knowledgeable in Sussex folktales and the fauna and flora of the surrounding countryside.
Find out more about these guided walks by visiting Kathryn’s website Sussex Walks.
“My daughter and I walked with Kathryn today and had a fabulous time! Not only is Kathryn a lovely person, she also knows a lot about the area and is an excellent storyteller. She happily adapted to our pace and preferences and at the end gave me plenty of tips about where to eat and tour locally. We chatted and laughed and it felt like walking with a friend. Highly recommended – thank you Kathryn!”
At the end of the tunnel of trees head north-east up the footpath to Halnaker Hill. At the top of the hill you’ll find Halnaker Windmill. The views across the beautiful countryside of West Sussex are spectacular. And on a clear day you’ll be rewarded with fine views of the coast.
The top of Halnaker Hill is a Scheduled Ancient Monument, as it is the location of a Neolithic earthwork structure known as a ’causewayed enclosure’.
Above: Halnaker Windmill 2016. Below: the restored windmill in 2018
Halnaker’s original mill was built for the Duke of Richmond and the Goodwood Estate and was first recorded in 1540. The mill was made completely of wood including the large sails which powered two millstones used for grinding wheat and grains.
The present-day mill dates back to the mid 18th century and was a working mill until it was struck by lightning in 1905. The mill is a Grade II listed building.
A lovely yet melancholy poem about the derelict mill was written by Hilaire Belloc in 1923. You can read it here, Ha’nacker Mill.
The WW2 Military Structure
About 50 meters from the windmill are the remains of WWII bunkers which were used during the war to monitor radio transmissions from aircraft travelling over the South Coast. The radiowave direction finding structures are also Grade 2 listed.
The best time to visit Halnaker tree tunnel
The tree tunnel at Halnaker can be walked at any time of year, however, the best time to visit is when the trees are in leaf in summer and autumn. This gives the illusion of walking through a circular pathway with the foliage arching over your head.
Personally, my favourite time of year to visit Halnaker tree tunnel is autumn when the light is softer and filters gently through the changing colours of the leaves. The canopy is at its best with hues of red, gold and russet and make for a beautiful scene especially if you catch some brightly coloured leaves drfiting to the floor as you walk.
Attractions along the Halnaker Windmill Trail
Tinwood Estate is a family run vineyard which started out in 2012 and produces excellent English sparkling wine. After walking the Halnaker Windmill Trail stop at Tinwood for a vineyard tour, wine tasting or afternoon tea. Make a night of it and book a stay in one of Tinwood’s luxury lodges and wake up to views of the vines.
The Boxgrove Quarry
Boxgrove Quarry which sit adjacent to Tinwood Estate is an important archealogical site. The oldest human remains, Homo heidelbergensis, ever found in Britain were discovered at Boxgrove Quarry in 1993. A shin bone dating from half a million years ago, give or take a year or two, was discovered and is known as the Boxgrove Man. The quarry is no longer accessible but the excavations are now exhibited in the Natural History Museum and British Museum in London.
Towards the end of the trail, close to the village of Boxgrove are the ruins of Boxgrove Priory. The Priory, founded in 1105, started life as a Saxon church and was expanded into a grand Norman structure by 1160. The east end was added around 1190.
After the dissolution in 1537 the Priory became a parish church. Today, all that remains of the old priory are the ruins of the 14th century guest house but the lovely old church dedicated to St Mary and St Blaise remains and welcomes visitors. Pay a visit to see the beautiful nave, chancel, central tower and transepts.
Need to know: visiting information
To get to Boxgrove
Boxgrove is the closest village to Halnaker and it’s easy to get there.
From Chichester town centre, it’s around 4 miles. Take the A27 and turn left at Tangmere Roundabout on The Street. Boxgrove village hall is on the left.
From London take the M25 and M23 until you reach the A27 and head towards Chichester. it takes just under two hours to get here.
A more scenic, but longer, route is M25 then A24 which takes you through the Surrey Hills AONB and the South Downs National Park. Depending where your start point is you could also take the M25 and A3.
Where to park for Halnaker Tree Tunnel
The best place to park for your Halnaker windmill walk is in the nearby village of Boxgrove in the village hall car park. The car park is free with a charging point for electric cars. You may find the GPS location useful.
There’s a small lay-by at the entrance to the farm on Denge Lane off the A285 with very limited parking. We recommend you PLEASE DO NOT PARK HERE as it has become a particular problem for farm and residents and makes it tricky for large farm vehicles. The farmer created the tree tunnel so thank him by parking safely in the village.
The nearest train station is Chichester which is 4-miles away. The number 55 bus route takes you to Halnaker and Boxgrove in about 20 minutes. Stagecoach and Compass run most of the local buses that pass through Boxgrove and Halnaker.
On foot from Boxgrove or Halnaker
Boxgrove is the nearest village to this iconic Sussex landmark. A footpath from Boxgrove to Halnaker runs along the main road but it is separated from the road by a hedge.
When this path ends follow the pavement round to the right to The Anglesey Arms.
From Halnaker, please do not go via the main road to Warhead Farm as there is no pavement for a portion of the route. Instead, go to the footpath at the bottom of the garden at The Anglesey Arms and turn left.
Follow the path until you reach a tarmac lane and turn right. A short way along this quiet road you’ll see another public footpath sign that leads across the fields. Follow this path until you reach the main road.
Carefully cross the road and you’ll be at Warehead Farm. From the farm, turn right to the tree tunnel. Please note the path through the fields is covered in flints and there are a number of stiles along the route.
From Boxgrove, the route to Halnaker Windmill is about two miles each way and from Halnaker it’s about 1.5 miles each way.
There’s a traditional country pub in Halnaker, The Angelsey Arms, which is thought to date back as far as 1815. The pub has a large car park, a lovely 2-acre garden with outdoor seating and shady areas. It’s great spot to eat and serves good hot and cold pub grub including Sunday roasts.
I enjoyed an excellent ploughmans when I visited. The Inn is directly accessible from the Windmill Trail public footpath by the garden.
Boxgrove Village Stores is a cafe come village store and a hub of the community. The store has been around for over 100 years. Pick up produce from local suppliers or pack a picnic with their homemade pies, quiches, pastries and sausage rolls. The cafe serves hot and cold refreshments.
Where to stay
There are a number of listed buildings in Halnaker that now offer Bed & Breakfast or self-catering holidays. The Old Store Guest House is a pretty flint cottage with an excellent reputation as a B&B.
Pair your visit to Halanker with a stay at the vineyard lodges of Tinwood Estate and a wine tasting. We highly recommend it!
Halnaker Windmill trail maps
Ordnance Survey Map: OS EXPLORER OL10 covers Arundel, Pulborough, Worthing & Bognor Regis (and this part of the South Downs). This map shows all the public footpaths and bridleways in the area and is perfect for walkers.
This PDF map of the Halanker trail shows the circular route and covers all the points of interest above.