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Mary's Crescent Walk

Hampshire, W Sussex

76 km / 47 miles
A four-day walk from Portchester Castle to Chichester Cathedral, through the South Downs National Park, with a religious theme.

Set against the spectacular backdrop of the South Downs, this four-day walk links medieval churches in a crescent-shaped route from Portchester to Chichester. Here the genesis of a modern pilgrim route was formed - Mary's Crescent - highlighting a wealth of ancient ecclesiastical architecture nestled in breathtaking scenery.

En route are Portchester Castle, the Royal Armoury, The Sustainability Centre, Queen Elizabeth Country Park and the Iron Age hill top forts of Old Winchester Hill and The Trundle. Between Exton and Singleton, the route mainly follows the South Downs Way National Trail.

The churches, each dedicated to St Mary, are a fascinating window into our Saxon and Norman past. From the priory church of Portchester to the magnificent Lady Chapel at Chichester Cathedral, with the simple single-celled church of North Marden and the five Norman gems of Droxford, Buriton, South-Harting, Singleton and East Lavant in-between, this route connects us to these historical landmarks in need of continued attention to preserve them for future generations.

England was renowned in the middle ages for being 'Mary's dowry'. The sense that England had been given to Mary and was her treasured possession was a catalyst for devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary - St Mary. This Marian devotion largely disappeared after the reformation and has remained quiescent ever since. With this ancient devotion in mind and inspired by walking the classic pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, the route's author, Dr Tim Goulder, a former GP in this area, decided to visit all the medieval churches dedicated to St Mary in the countryside nearby, now linked by this route.

The walker is invited to explore the medieval mindset; why were elements of the interior church architecture first created and subsequently destroyed at the Reformation?

The four suggested daily walking sections are:

Portchester to Droxford 12.9 miles

Droxford to Buriton 12.9 miles

Buriton to Chilgrove 10.3 miles

Chilgrove to Chichester 10.9 miles

Each day ends near a country pub providing excellent food and accommodation, with plenty of refreshment stops in between.

The guidebook includes detailed walking instructions and maps. It has maps that provide an overview of the route as well as excellent photos and drawings of the church interiors and other features of note along the way

For further information, cycle routes and short circular walks from each individual St Mary's church please visit the dedicated website linked below.

Source: Mary's Crescent Walk website


Path Type: Other Paths
Attributes: Average Gradients
Former Railway
Agricultural land
National Park
Start: SU626045 - Portchester Castle, Portchester, Hampshire View on StreetMap
Finish: SU859048 - Chichester Cathedral, Chichester, W Sussex View on StreetMap
Open Date: 2023
Web Sites: Mary's Crescent Walk

Publications, Badges and Certificates:

Guidebook Mary's Crescent Walk  (Countryside Books  - 2023 )


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Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2016.
© OpenStreetMap contributors under Open Database Licence.
Rights of way data from selected Local Authorities.
Large scale digital mapping is provided by John Thorn.
At high zoom levels the route is indicative only.
Purchase Ordnance Survey Maps:
OS Landranger 185, 196, 197
OS Landranger Active 185, 196, 197
OS Explorer 3, 8, 29, 32, 33
OS Explorer Active 3, 8, 29, 32, 33

Accommodation within 5 km of this Path:

Hostel Accommodation
< 1 km
32 km

Connected Paths:


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GPX Route File
Mary's Crescent Walk GPX Exchange Format Route File
Last Updated 18/08/2023 20:35:01 - New path in 2023.
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MemoryMap Route File
Mary's Crescent Walk Memory Map Route File
Last Updated 18/08/2023 20:35:01 - New path in 2023.
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Tracklogs Route File
Mary's Crescent Walk Tracklogs Route File
Last Updated 18/08/2023 20:35:01 - New path in 2023.
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Route Profile:

75.1 km (46.7 miles)
1,466 m (4,810 ft) ascent
246 m (807 ft)  maximum height

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