Plans are now published to take Centurion Way from West Dean to Cocking

Alister Linton-Crook who is the Cycling Project Officer for the South Downs National Park Authority, has informed us on behalf of National Park Authority that:

“We are pleased to announce the submission of the planning application for the next section of Centurion Way which is an important step towards the realisation of this much desired project.”

The application Ref: SDNP/18/05920/FUL can be viewed and comments submitted via the link below:

If you approve of the extension of Centurion Way from West Dean to Cocking, why not register your approval officially?

From the planing application details available on line you may click on the comments tab and then follow the “login to make a comment” link.

A quick reference copy of the plan overview is available for convenience here but it is best to refer the government source directly for any important communications.

On behalf of the FoCW,

Mark Record

Christmas on Centurion Way

Join the Friends of Centurion way on the 15th Dec to celebrate the Christmas season and help raise awareness to the threat to our pathway posed by development plans. The event will be held between 2 Pm & 4 Pm.

Christmas Poster kindly designed by Dominic Webster
Christmas Poster kindly designed by Dominic Webster

We aim to provide any one passing by with some mulled cranberry juice and various edible Christmas treats.

Bring your family to decorate a lantern that you may hang on the endangered trees.

Looking forwards to meeting path users who wish to preserve Centurion Way.

Mark Record (FoCW web Author on behalf of the Friends of Centurion Way)

Removing Barriers and some Amazing Map Technology

Philip Maber (an active member of the FoCW) has discovered from the Shoreham-by-cycle group that Sustrans have a new campaign to remove 16,000 barriers to cycling from the National Cycling Network. If we as a group can preserve the existing route of Centurion Way we will be very lucky. Our path already has extremely few barriers that present obstacles to it’s users. However some local connections onto our path could be better. It will be interesting to see if any improvements are targeted at our area of the National Cycling Network.

Paths for everyone is the Sustrans new report where they outline their objective to barriers that hinder any users of the National Cycling Network.

Steps in the way

We are Cycling UK have published a comprehensive story about how Sustrans plan to remove all  16,000 barriers.

Philip has also discovered (from a FaceBook comment)a convenient way to display historic maps. Particularly of the old Midhurst railway (who’s original route Centurion Way now follows ). Example screenshot shown below.

Philips Side by Side Display of Historic Local Maps
Screen Shot of Philips Side by Side Display of Historic Local Maps

The side by side georeferenced map system he has discovered allows the historic map to be shown alongside a modern aerial style view. This link shows the area around (the now disused) Cocking station where Centurion Way may soon be extended.


Why Do People Want to Preserve Centurion Way?

Website Revamp

Visitors to these pages may notice the FoCW webpages are being revamped. Believe it or not, the FoCW website has been on-line almost a full year. Members of FoCW know development plans are in the pipeline that threaten our path and we want to be sure even more people are ready to engage with consultation and activism to preserve Centurion Way when these plans are revealed.

Extending Local Engagement in our Campaign

The bright yellow banner heading this web-site is part of our drive to recruit support. In sales they say a good product sells itself!  Indeed, you have nothing to loose by registering your support for FoCW but you have everything to gain. We’ve now made it super easy to register support by clicking the blue text in the header saying “Sign-Up“!  There are already 588 registered supporters but we feel (to be taken seriously by local government) we should aim to double this number. Over 30 people have registered in the last three days alone so getting a thousand supporters looks a realistic target (with your help!). You may want to print our leaflets to circulate amongst friends, family and colleagues and to get more people on the bandwagon.  Our calendar contains events and meetings you are very welcome to join too.

Strength of Local Support Revealed

Our new “Sign-Up” form includes a text field where supporters can comment.

We asked “Tell us what you most value about Centurion Way and how you would like us to preserve and enhance your path”

These are some highlights of the answers we collected over only the last three days!!!

It is somewhere to go to relax yourself in the beautiful nature. Walking among woods is very beneficial for human bodies. It’s also a magical place for children.

Centurion Way is a brilliant route, enabling people to get from the South Coast into the rural hinterland of West Sussex. I was delighted to open it, as West Sussex Chairman of Highways, and would be devastated if it was lost.

It is the only decent off road cycle path in this area. It is also a haven for wild life which is under increasing threat. Many people value the peace and tranquility and the opportunity to access the countryside.”

I ride the path on my own and with my grandson. It’s makes a nice way to get to the lanes around the downs and is a safe ride for my grandson.

Just save the b?o?dy path we’ve lost the beautiful farm and surrounding countryside to progression haha not everyone drives aren’t we as a country supposed to be encouraging our nation to be healthy it’s a beautiful walk to Lavant need I say more

1. The heritage of the railway line.
2. To be able to cycle / run from Chi to Midhurst.

I want to continue to enjoy the path and the environment.

It has been, for many years a little bit of piece for so many folks. Although I do t live In Chichester any more, when I visit I have to go there My relatives , who live in the Chichester area have enjoyed the peace of the whole path. . It is also a wonderful facility for cyclists who n longer feel able to ride on the roads . We need to maintain. These green areas for the sake of residents mental health.

It’s a fantastic local amenity that should be preserved and enhanced for future generations to enjoy.

I have been a frequent user of CW since moving to Chichester in the late 90s. I use it as a traffic free cycling and running route to the north side of the city and up to the South Downs.
It would be great to extend the path further north, but it would also be fantastic to enable a safe extension into the city centre. I realise that’s a big logistical challenge, but I know there have been some detailed proposals and where there’s a will…

Historically, I have lived my life in Chichester. I am now living at the house I was born in, hence I have many fond childhood memories when Centurian Way was a railway line. From my bedroom I was able to see the Newlands Lane bridge, and would often hear the approaching trains and run up the stairs to catch a glimpse of the passing train. I have on occasions, walked Centurian Way, and remember the times as kids we would walk along the line, and on the approach of a train we would run up the banks and hide. It’s now a safe haven for walkers and their dogs, cyclists and I guess on the odd occasion children might play there. I think it is mostly taken for granted that these locations can and do look after themselves. However, the realisation kicks in that there are a group volunteers who actively go and keep Centurian Way clean and tidy. As a recent early retiree, it is likely I will have some spare time at various stages of the week, and as such could join the group and assist with the Centurian Way. I think it is vital to keep Centurian Way as long as we can, as I am sure for some of, or most users / potential users, the previous comments might apply. I’m pretty sure the wild life that live there would also agree. Apologies for the “War and Peace”.

Well used, safe and pleasant foot/cycle path for exercise or access to/from Chichester. A feature that significantly adds to the quality of life in the city. Must be kept in entirety … and ideally extended to Midhurst”

I think cycle paths are an important part of linking our communities, promoting more sustainable forms of transport, keeping people fit and healthy, providing recreation and a great tourism activity. Centurion Way and Salterns Way allow people to cycle the length of our district from Midhurst to the coast.

It’s the easiest & safest cycle route (for me) to stay fit on. Within minutes you’re in the South Downs. Centurion Way is perfect for dog walkers, nature lovers, birdwatchers & cyclists alike. Always gorgeous sights to see, from Brandy Hole Lane ferns & Oaks to sunsets over the rolling fields at the former gravel pits at Lavant. Centurion Way will, in the future, prove even more valuable. With growing development along side it, the safety of it’s path will be needed even more by fitness & nature lovers, school children & dog walkers. It is a vital route to Lavant & beyond into the Downs for so many. I’ve no idea how you can improve on nature tbh!!

It’s such a lovely quiet walk for people with pets lots of wildlife to see

In this crowded country surely it makes sense to retain and expand the amenity ordered by a simple path ?

Access from West Dean area into Chichester, but due to our location, we would love for the path to be extended up to Cocking to provide a cycle path down to the coast and up towards Petworth without the need to go on public highway, given that we have three young children

A safe place to walk my dog all the way to Lavant. This is used by so many people, young, old, mobility vehicles and cycles. It would be sad to loose the path.

Perfect for a safe walk or run, without having to worry about cars

A green pathway to the south of the city and to the Downs. Safe car- free route for children to get to Bishop Luffa. We need more safe cycle-paths not lose one!

The cycle path. Must be kept open and would be fantastice to carry it on up to the South Downs Way.

Living on a stretch of road with NO footpath means that the Centurion way would provide us with a safe route for walking and cycling from our house. With three young children, this safe route is of paramount importance to us.

Beautiful , car free route. Fabulous access to wildlife rich hedgerow and banks + brandyhole copse. Great roiute for runners and cyclists, my children love it. I use it to get fromChi too Lavant and sometimes from Chi to West Dean by bike.

Everything! It’s peace and quiet, it’s beautiful nature walks, its safety away from roads.


Fiends of Centurion Way Halloween Event

This spooky story is now also covered by the Chichester Post.

A ghoulish group The Fiends of Centurion Way gathered on Saturday 27th Oct for a Halloween event to raise awareness of threats to the path.

Don’t be too scared they’re only The Fiends of Centurion Way

Carley Sitwell created some fantastic cakes, apparently made entirely out of real spiders.

Made from real spiders!
Made from real spiders!

We had some terrifying leaflets to hand out and an activity sheet too, but many people just ran away screaming before they could take one.

Later in the night we encountered the Ghost of the Headless Centurion who conjured up ancient sounds of his own dismemberment.

BBC Consider Pedestrian and Cycling alternatives to “Car-Based Living” for New Developments.

BBC News are running an interesting story about “Young couples trapped in car dependency“. The news report highlights issues with recent relaxation of planing requirements intended to stimulate the creation of new housing developments. Some residents of these developments are hit by a double whammy of  having few community amenities while also suffering from limited local transport infrastructure based exclusively around reliance on motor vehicles.Housing without pedestrian or cycling transport infrastructureThe Friends of Centurion Way are convinced that providing new links onto our path (that are both pedestrian and cycling friendly) will avoid reproducing similar issues in Chichester. Maintaining the existing route of the path will also be critical to achieving vital local connectivity.

On a somewhat lighter note is a story from the BBC world service.

It reports how people in the Bologna region of northern Italy, can get vouchers for free food, wine and beer by walking and cycling! They have a public transport system that actually rewards citizens for taking sustainable modes of transport. Ping Jiang  (a Friend of Centurion Way) believes a similar system would be highly desirable in Chichester.  Imagine, you could walk or cycle from Chichester to West Dean and simultaneously earn enough point for free Coffee and Cake at the local shop/café there by the time you arrive!

Many thanks to Philip Maber for collating these interesting news reports.

Centurion Way is now planned to go all the way to Cocking!

South Downs National Park Centurion Way Plan Invitation Header

Southdowns National Park have published an open invitation to come and view their Centurion Way Planning Drawings for the stretch from West Dean to the South Downs Way, Cocking.

24 October
3pm to 7pm
Cocking Village Hall, Bell Ln, Cocking, GU29 0HU

Read the full details of their invitation here
SDNPA Project Update Stakeholders Sept_2018

The Friends of Centurion Way are very supportive of these plans.
However we wish to remind people that it would be a great shame if the Southern end of the path was lost due to development threats while the Northern end is being extended.

We recommend anyone enthusiastic about Centurion Way visits this plans viewing event and if possible, discusses their concerns about the development threats that over shadow the future of our Chichester section of path.

Cracks and Bumps have been quickly repaired

Late  this summer Adam Bell reported issues with Centurion Way Path to our local authorities.

There was a long and reasonably wide crack along the centre of the path at it’s southern end. It was an especial nasty if cycling at night.

In virtually no time at all the local authorities repaired crack in the path and removed the bump from a large tree root as well.

Tree root bump close to railway footbridge has been removed
Tree root bump close to railway footbridge has been removed
Long crack in path filled with new tarmac strip
Long crack in path filled with new tarmac strip

The Friends of Centurion Way group are really impressed with how quickly these repairs were completed.


BBC Radio’s Clare Balding interviews Matt Masson on Centurion Way about his rehabilitation from injury

Clare Balding hears the uplifting story of how walking helped a young man recover from a brain injury. Click here for link to podcast.

Clare Balding interviews Matt Masson on Centurion Way
Clare Balding interviews Matt Masson on Centurion Way

At the age of 23, Matt Masson fell off a roof during a night out. He was in a coma for six weeks and, when he awoke, couldn’t walk, talk or sit-up. When his voice returned, so did a determination to return to his previously active life. Walking formed a central part of his rehab; his first goal was to walk just 300 metres but by 2014 Matt had walked the Amsterdam Marathon which took 9 hours and 37 minutes. In this edition of Ramblings, Matt and his mother, Anne, walk a stretch of the Centurion Way in Chichester and recall his many endeavours. The Centurion Way is a route between Chichester and West Dean which follows the line of part of the disused Chichester to Midhurst Railway. fell off a roof during a night out. He was in a coma for six weeks and, when he awoke, couldn’t walk, talk or sit-up. When his voice returned, so did a determination to return to his previously active life. Walking formed a central part of his rehab; his first goal was to walk just 300 metres but by 2014 Matt had walked the Amsterdam Marathon which took 9 hours and 37 minutes. In this edition of Ramblings, Matt and his mother, Anne, walk a stretch of the Centurion Way in Chichester and recall his many endeavours. The Centurion Way is a route between Chichester and West Dean which follows the line of part of the disused Chichester to Midhurst Railway.

Friends of Centurion Way meet Richard Vobes AKA The Bald Explorer

Richard’s podcast/interview about Centurion Way is now available by following this link!!!

Richard Vobes is a film maker and amateur historian. He frequently makes short films and audio recordings that explore Britain’s great heritage, traditions and legends. He has a website where his videos and podcasts can be easily accessed.

On the 20th September 2018, he visited Chichester and interviewed some of the Friends of Centurion Way. Unfortunately it was raining and therefore filming was not practical . However Richard was still able to use his sound recording equipment, so watch out for a potential podcast appearing soon on the Bald Explorer website.

Richard Vobes AKA The Bald Explorer visiting Centurion Way
Richard Vobes AKA The Bald Explorer visiting Centurion Way (photo by Philip Maber)