A day walking along the South Downs Way again. The views are getting better every time. The path from Amberley to Upper Beeding is quite gentle with a steep climb to Chanctonbury Ring, an ancient hill fort famous for the magical circle of beech trees.
The Ring is one of the most prominent landmarks along the South Downs. It was originally an Iron Age hill fort but its fame is due to the beech trees, which were planted in 1760 by Charles Goring within the earth bank of the fort. The trees became a famous landmark, however the Great Storm of 1987 destroyed most of them. They have been replanted and are only now beginning to restore the Ring to its former glory.
Chanctonbury Ring has been associated with mysterious forces for as long as anyone can remember.
It is said that on a midsummer’s night you can summon the devil from the underworld by running backwards around the ring seven times anti-clockwise. When he appears he will offer you a bowl of soup in exchange for your soul – it must be damned good soup! The story most probably derives from ancient pagan worship which would include a ritual dance ceremony followed by a sacrificial feast.
In modern times the Ring has gained something of a reputation in connection with witchcraft, UFOs, ghosts and strange forces. In 1967 a group of university students, who had planned to spend the night there “making tape recordings and photographing images”, were frightened away – it seems like The Blair Witch Project wasn’t an original idea.
Despite all the extraterrestrial and paranormal activity, the Ring is a lovely place to have a break, and enjoy the views all around and above. But watch out for those UFOs!
“Any view that includes Chanctonbury Ring is a good view”
The path winds its way gently along the Downs and provides some wonderful views, especially when the weather adds a bit of atmosphere.
Passing farms on the way gives more opportunities to capture a few special moments.