14 Scintillating dog walks in West Sussex

Dog walks
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The sunniest county in the UK, West Sussex is a wonderful area to explore on foot. You can enjoy an array of beautiful landscapes, sculpted parks, and all manner of man-made marvels on your rambles. In this article, we’ve compiled 15 of the best dog walks in West Sussex that let you explore this wonderful county for yourself.

A large portion of the county is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. There are sections of both the South Downs and High Weald within its borders, and both make exceptional walking and dog walking opportunities.

There are plenty of historic points of interest too, from stately homes such as Goodwood and Petworth to castles in Arundel and Bramber. We’ve made sure to include several dog walks in Sussex that allows you to explore these fantastic locations.

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Country & country park walks

Petworth park

This large, landscaped park is home to a large herd of deer who have called this estate home for over 500 years. They’re not the only established wildlife here, as there are many ancient oaks and lime trees around the parkland, which inspired both Capability Brown and J.M.W Turner. Brown redesigned the landscape and gardens here throughout the 1750s, whilst Turner chronicled the parkland in several sketches and paintings, including one of the famous resident deer.

There are several walks you and your pooch can enjoy around the grounds, just be sure you have your dog under close control, as you wouldn’t want them to chase any deer. Otherwise, you’re free to roam the acres of parkland and woodland.

You can visit the Flying Ducks cafe in the park to pick up a coffee or venture into Petworth town for local facilities where you will find several dog-friendly tea rooms and pubs.

  • Walk Length: 4.8 to 6.4km

  • Difficulty: Easy/Moderate

  • Starting Point: Deer Park car park

  • Terrain: Parkland, even, slopes, mud

  • Free Parking: No (Free if a National Trust member)

  • Address: Petworth House and Park, Petworth, West Sussex, GU28 9LR

More information: National Trust

Cowdray castle

Despite being in ruin, this Tudor house remains magnificent to look at. Visited by Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, this castle was a seriously significant landmark until 1793 when a devastating fire took hold during refurbishment work.

Only the Kitchen Tower remained intact, and the ruins stand as they were left all those years ago, and make a majestic backdrop to this dog walk in West Sussex.

There are plenty of spaces for your pup to run off lead, and they can even have a swim in the river on this walk. You’ll also have outstanding views over the South Downs which you can paw-se to admire while your dog races around the meadow. After you’ve stretched your legs, it’s worth heading into Midhurst.

It’s one of the prettiest towns in the area, and you can find several dog-friendly spots to refresh yourself, such as the Elsted Inn or Fitzcanes Cafe.

  • Walk Length: 2.8km

  • Difficulty: Easy

  • Starting Point: North Street car park

  • Terrain: Parkland, fields, flat, even, trails

  • Free Parking: No

  • Address: North Street, Midhurst, GU29 9DW

More information: VisorandoSouth Downs Walking

Buchan country park

This pocket of countryside is right on the edge of Crawley, making it a haven of green by the bustling town. This green flag awarded park is the perfect spot for dog walks and family picnics. You can enjoy ball games in the fields, or try to sniff out each of the sculptures dotted around the Country Park. The park has a number of surfaced paths throughout, making it easy and accessible to walk around all year round.

Dogs must be under control at all times but are welcome to enjoy the park with responsible owners. Plus, the Island Pond is designated as a special “dog dip”, so be sure to pack a towel to (try) and dry off the pooch before your drive home.

If you visit between Friday and Tuesday, you can grab a coffee from the mobile barista. Otherwise, pack some food to enjoy a picnic or BBQ onsite.

  • Walk Length: 3.5km

  • Difficulty: Easy

  • Starting Point: Main entrance

  • Terrain: Parkland, flat, even, trails

  • Free Parking: Voluntary donation

  • Address: Horsham Road, Crawley, West Sussex, RH11 9HQ

More information: West Sussex.gov

Halnaker windmill

This landmark of the Chichester countryside has recently been restored, and the local council has created a designated walk to the windmill so everyone can enjoy a delightful countryside stroll and stop at the historic location. On this gentle walk, you will appreciate the history and beautiful views, while your pup will relish the long off-lead walk.

Walking along Mill Lane, especially in summer, is unforgettable. The path has sunken and the trees have closed overhead, forming an emerald tunnel leading towards the hill, upon which sits the windmill. This track follows the route of Stane Street, the old Roman road which ran from London to Chichester.

You can park in a small layby by the entrance to Warehead Farm. The George Pub in Eartham is a great place to stop for a drink and good local food. Otherwise, you can find The Anglesey Arms further down the A285.

  • Walk Length: 3.5km

  • Difficulty: Easy

  • Starting Point: Main entrance

  • Terrain: Parkland, flat, even, trails

  • Free Parking: Yes

  • Address: Denge Lane, Chichester, PO18 0LX

More information: West Sussex.govVisit Chichester

Woodland walks

The Duck of Cumberland walk (Henley

This walk starts and ends at the charming Duke of Cumberland pub, where we suggest you stop in for refreshments at some point in your day. If the weather is good, the pub garden is a beautiful place to relax, and you can even see as far as Leith Hill in Surrey.

In fact, you could spend a while just exploring the pub and its acres of gardens, as well as fascinating, historical decor inside. Regardless, you and your dog are sure to love the rural setting and picturesque surroundings.

The walk will then take you from this hidden hamlet on a walk through the local woodland. Your pup will have plenty of opportunities to be off-lead and you can both explore between the trees and enjoy the views across the South Downs.

  • Walk Length: 3.2km

  • Difficulty: Easy

  • Starting Point: The Duke of Cumberland pub

  • Terrain: Woodland, slopes, uneven, fields

  • Free Parking: Yes

  • Address: The Duke of Cumberland Pub, Henley, Haslemere, GU27 3HQ

More information: Duke of Cumberland

Charlton forest

With over 1000 hectares of forest, it’s practically impossible to cover it all even in a dozen walks. It does mean you and your pup will find something new with every visit and can spend countless hours roaming this wonderful woodland. If that wasn’t enough, many long-distance footpaths cross the forest.

These include the South Downs Way, New Lipchis Way, and West Sussex Literary Trail, some of the best walks in Sussex. This makes it a great place to divert from the path to pause and explore the area before continuing your journey.

Rather temptingly, you can start and end your walk at The Fox Goes Free, a fantastic country pub with stunning surroundings. Not only is it a handsome, characterful pub but one with a lot of history. William III of London regularly sought refreshment here with his hunting party, and now you and your own hound can rest here after your walk through the woods.

The pub also hosted the first WI meeting in England and was the location of an episode of classic Doctor Who. It’s nothing to be sniffed at!

  • Walk Length: 15km

  • Difficulty: Moderate

  • Starting Point: The Fox Goes Free

  • Terrain: Woodland, flat, uneven

  • Free Parking: Yes

  • Address: Charlton, Near Goodwood, West Sussex, PO18 0HU

More information: TelegraphWoodland Trust

Slindon estate

Slindon Estate is tucked away in the hills of the South Downs and is home to several fantastic walks across its vast acreage. One such walk starts and ends at The George Inn, where you can paw-se with your pooch for a drink before or after your walk. More facilities are available at the village shop/cafe, and another local pub, The Spur.

The walk can be enjoyed year-round, but especially in Spring as a carpet of bluebells spreads across the forest. There are several fallen trees here which were felled by the great storm of 1987 and have been left to provide a haven for wildlife which you and your pup can try to find on your walk.

You’ll have a gentle climb up Nore Hill Folly and on the peak you can sit on the bench and enjoy the panoramic views of the surrounding farms and valley.

  • Walk Length: 6.1km

  • Difficulty: Easy/Moderate

  • Starting Point: The George Inn

  • Terrain: Trails, slopes, flat, uneven, fields, woodland

  • Free Parking: Yes

  • Address: The George Inn, Eartham, PO18 0LT

More information: National Trust

Nyman's wood

Dogs are welcome in the gardens at Nyman’s during winter opening hours but are allowed to enjoy walkies in the woodland all year round. Owners are asked to keep them under close control during bird nesting season, but otherwise, there are no restrictions as you and your pup explore the enchanting woodland.

Dog walkers need to take a small diversion at the start of this walk to avoid the main entrance and arboretum, where dogs are not permitted.

After that point, you will have lovely views over the High Weald, as well as a reasonably challenging walk to for you and your pup to stretch your legs with. It is a very popular dog walk in West Sussex and a great place to visit to reconnect with nature.

  • Walk Length: 3km

  • Difficulty: Moderate

  • Starting Point: Car park

  • Terrain: Trails, uneven, woodland, hills

  • Free Parking: Yes

  • Address: Handcross, near Haywards Heath, West Sussex, RH17 6EB

More information: National Trust

Waterside walks


Arundel is perhaps one of the best dog walks in West Sussex as it is so varied. On this route alone you can venture up the historic high street, take in the castle and cathedral, and enjoy a stroll around the tranquil Swanbourne Lake. If you want to make a whole day of dog walking, you can park at the Black Rabbit pub and combine a walk there with this route.

This will be an on-lead walk, but given the length, varying gradients, and surroundings, your pup is sure to feel well exercised and entertained by the walk. Not to mention they’ll be thrilled to join you on a lovely day out together. Meanwhile, this walk is sure to be a hit with the people of the party, who might also want to pop into some of the pubs, tea rooms and antique shops in the town.

After your walk, you and the dog can stop by the St Mary’s Gate Inn, the Waterside Cafe, or the Motte and Bailey cafe for some refreshments.

  • Walk Length: 10.4km

  • Difficulty: Moderate

  • Starting Point: Arundel station or any town car park

  • Terrain: Paths, hills, trails

  • Free Parking: No

  • Address: Station Approach, Arundel, BN18 9PH

More information: Arundel

Elmer sands

This is one of several beaches in West Sussex without dog restrictions and is also a very typical beach for the county. It’s got a high shingle line and at lower tides reveals a broad plain of compact sand. At low tide, you can walk out to the stacked rock sea defences, which are great to explore looking for crabs, small fish, and other marine beasties.

The flat, compact sand also makes it great fun for your pooch, who will be able to run across it with ease. Making it a great spot for ball or frisbee games, as well as digging in the sand or paddling in the surf. It’s easily one of the best beach dogs walks in West Sussex.

You can also walk from here to several other beaches, such as Middleton on Sea, (another beach where dogs are allowed all year.) The only downside is it’s difficult to park nearby, given the private estates, but this is again typical to several West Sussex beaches.

It is possible though, and also it is easily walkable from Elmer. There are no facilities on the beach, but you can find The Elmer pub and several shops on the main road.

  • Walk Length: As long or as short as you like

  • Difficulty: Easy

  • Starting Point: Wherever you park

  • Terrain: Beach, flat, shingle, sand

  • Free Parking: Yes

  • Address: 2 Sea Way, Bognor Regis, PO22 6JD

More information: Coast Radar

Horsham riverside walk

This beautiful, long walk practically encompasses the town of Horsham, giving you the opportunity to walk alongside the River Arun and several brooks which circle the town. As it runs close to the town, you know you’re never too far from facilities whilst still able to enjoy the tranquillity of the waterside.

Be aware that due to the nature of this walk, it can be muddy or flooded after heavy rain. So perhaps save it for a summer day and spend a few hours walking in the sunshine, where your pup can cool off with a paddle in the water.

You can visit many of the dog-friendly cafes and pubs in Horsham should you and your pup fancy a treat. For example, the Cafe Nero for coffee or Black Jug for a pint. Should you want to turn your walk into a paw-some day out with your four-legged friend, you could pay a visit to Chesworth Farm.

  • Walk Length: 20km

  • Difficulty: Moderate

  • Starting Point: Warnham Local Nature Reserve

  • Terrain: Trails, flat, slopes, uneven

  • Free Parking: Yes

  • Address: Warnham Road, Horsham, RH12 2RA

More information: Horsham.gov


Goring beach is another shingle affair, with an expanse of compacted sand below the pebble line, and wooden groynes. Like Elmer, listed above, it’s a great beach to visit with your dog for sand-digging, racing along the shingle, or paddling in the surf.

Dogs are allowed on this beach year-round, making it a fabulous spot for seaside dog walks in West Sussex. But be aware, dogs are not allowed between the boat ramps between May and September.

When you’re done with your seaside stroll, you can walk into Goring town where you can visit local shops, cafes and pubs. You can also catch the train from the town, making this a great place for you and your pooch to visit without needing to drive.

The Sea Land Cafe looks out over the beach and your dog is welcome to sit with you as you enjoy a hot drink or tuck into a tasty treat. Otherwise, you can walk to Ferring and visit the Bluebird Cafe, which is a dog-friendly, delightful cafe on the seafront.

  • Walk Length: As long or short as you like

  • Difficulty: Easy

  • Starting Point: Car park

  • Terrain: Beach, flat, shingle, sand

  • Free Parking: Yes

  • Address: Goring Road, Worthing, BN12 4PE

More information: Parkopedia

Hill walks

Black down

Black Down is the highest point in the county, and a fantastic dog walk in West Sussex, yet the hills here still feel like a hidden gem. The hill itself isn’t dauntingly high, but from the peak, you will have unrivalled views of the rolling countryside and South Downs AONB.

This area inspired Alfred Lord Tennyson, who would regularly roam the heathland here. Now you and your pooch can tramp through the heather and the woodland and see for yourself why this landscape is so awe-inspiring.

If you visit later in the year, you may catch sight of an adorable furry critter that was long extinct in the UK, as a beaver reintroduction project will be underway in Valewood from Spring 2020.

Your pooch can find a drink quite easily on this walk, as there are several streams and cattle troughs they’re welcome to use. Humans will have to use public toilets in Waitrose car park or at the local pubs and tea rooms in Haslemere where they can find themselves a drink.

  • Walk Length: 3.2km

  • Difficulty: Easy

  • Starting Point: Tennyson’s Lane car park

  • Terrain: Woodland, hills, fields, even

  • Free Parking: Yes

  • Address: Tennyson's Lane, Haslemere, Surrey, GU27 3BJ

More information: National Trust

Chanctonbury ring

This circular walk offers a truly rural walk through rolling, green fields. The wide expanses of open sky and lush green fields make this a perfect example of a countryside stroll. Both you and your pooch will love it for that very reason, with plenty of open space to stretch your legs and exceptional surroundings to explore.

Your walk will follow good paths and there are plenty of places along the way to pause to take in the scenery, including views of the South Downs and the sea.

The highlight of the walk is the Chanctonbury Ring, the site of the largest iron age hill fort in Britain. It’s visible for miles thanks to a clump of beech trees at the peak. Just whatever you do, don’t run backwards around the ring six times, as you’ll summon the devil. (Not that we think anyone can accomplish that feat somehow.)

Just remember to pack a few snacks for you and your pooch, as you won’t find many facilities along the way. But for a few hours of gentle strolling through picturesque countryside, you won’t find many better dog walks in Sussex than this. If you find yourself needing more refreshment after your walk, take a drive into nearby Washington to visit The Frankland Arms.

  • Walk Length: 12.8km

  • Difficulty: Easy

  • Starting Point: Washington Bostal car park

  • Terrain: Fields, flat, even, trails, slopes

  • Free Parking: Yes

  • Address: Pulborough RH20 4AX

More information: GPS Routes

More information about West Sussex: Sussex LifeCoast RadarWikipedia

More dog walks: East SussexKentWiltshire