A one-kilometre sweep of wildflower-rich
grassland, following the smooth downland contours, surrounded by
atmospheric woodland. Groves of yew trees, living sculptures with
wonderfully convoluted trunks. Views over the pastures and
hedgerows of Madehurst to Glatting Beacon on the horizon. An
important haven for insects such as butterflies, moths and an
outstanding diversity of beetles.
What's at Fairmile Bottom?
Chalk grassland is one of our richest natural
habitats, maintained by centuries of grazing. Nationally about 80%
has been lost in the last sixty years, so this is an important
site. It is rich in flowers, including scented herbs such as wild
basil, thyme and marjoram. Ten orchid species have been found here,
including bee, frog and fragrant. Other colourful finds included
devil’s bit scabious and delicate nodding harebells.
Butterflies include silver washed
fritillary, grizzled skipper and white admiral. The grassland
buzzes with grasshoppers. The anthills in the grassland and
decaying branches in the surrounding trees make this a great place
to see green woodpeckers. As well as yew and beech, the woodland
features oak, ash, coppiced hazel and sweet chestnut. A range of
impressive fungi thrive on the woodland’s decaying matter. A rare
species of flat bark beetle depends on the beech trees and is known
from just a handful of sites in the UK.
How to get there
To find Fairmile Bottom, launch our
interactive iMap (opens
in a new window), select 'British National Grid' from the
search menu and enter SU985091 into the search box
The network of footpaths and bridleways in the
area connect the site to Madehurst, Slindon, Houghton and Arundel
(2½ miles away). The Monarch’s Way
passes nearby the site, following Charles II’s escape route from
Worcester to Shoreham-by-Sea.
The site can be reached on a bridleway from
central Arundel (2½ miles).
Sussex Cycle Journey Planner
Nearest train stations are Amberley (3 miles
on foot or bike) and Arundel (3½ miles on foot or bike). See
related links for more information.
There is limited lay-by parking at the site
alongside the A29 between its junction with the A284 (Whiteways
roundabout) and Slindon.
The grassland area is Open Access Land and can be walked around
freely. There are no surfaced paths and the terrain is sloping.
Towards the top of the slope is a well-trodden route for walking
the full length of the grassland area. A public footpath leads into
the south-west end of the grassland from Rewell Wood.
Dogs should be kept under
close control please, to avoid disturbance to wildlife and other
There are no toilets or other facilities on
Whiteways countryside and picnic site is just
up the A29 at Whiteways roundabout, with car park, picnic site,
Whiteways Café and toilets.
How we look after the
Fairmile Bottom is designated a
nationally important Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) for
its yew woodland and chalk grassland. It is also a Local Nature
Reserve. It is managed by West Sussex County Council Countryside
Chalk grassland needs traditional management
to maintain it and control scrub; nationally we have lost over 80%
of our chalk grassland during the past 60 years. West Sussex County
Council has reintroduced traditional cattle grazing to conserve
this site's special downland flora and fauna, characteristic of the
South Downs National Park. Cattle create a patchwork of different
habitats in the grassland, benefiting plants such as fragrant
orchid and wild thyme, as well as butterflies, grasshoppers and
More places to explore nearby
Footpaths from Fairmile Bottom continue into
Rewell Wood to the south and east and Houghton Forest to the
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