May 2, 2024 | Open Walks

Chalk Stone

Date: Weds 12 June 2024
Start: Cocking Hill Car Park
Start Time: 17.55
Distance: 5 miles
Terrain: A gradual climb up to the Downs

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This walk is part treasure hunt part open air art exhibition. Some call them chalk stones others say balls. Whichever your preference I hope you will be amazed by them!

Back in 2002, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester & the Edward James Foundation at West Dean had 14 chalk stones placed at intervals along a 5 mile route that links West Dean with the South Downs Way. These enormous balls were the work of sculptor, photographer and environmentalist Andy Goldsworthy.  However, Goldsworthy’s art is unique among his peers. Much of it is temporary and incorporates site-specific materials. When asked to work with chalk he wrote that:

for me chalk has mythical, magical properties. The idea of digging a whole and finding it white seems totally contradictory. It runs against all my ideas about what is under the ground. Dig a hole up north and it’s dark and earthy, so to dig a hole in Sussex and to find chalk, so absolutely pristine and pure and white, I felt it was like finding the sky in the ground”


Chalk Stone


In keeping with the ephemeral nature of Goldsworthy’s work, and with chalk being such a soft rock, these balls were never supposed to last. The expectation was that within a few short years weathering would return the chalk to the ground. However, 22 years on, the majority of the stones are still visible……if you know where to look. Join this walk cum treasure hunt to find them and review Goldsworthy’s art.

This is a linear walk. The start time is very specific as we will begin by taking the 17.55 bus from Cocking Hill to West Dean.

Big thank you to Malinka from Rural Strides, I would never have found them all (there are 15*, not 13) without her. Her knowledge and wisdom about the landscape has untold depths. She used two particular expressions that resonated: land art and land literacy. I deliberately tried not to read too much about this trail beforehand. I just wanted to see how it landed. And I have to say, it was fabulous. I would thoroughly recommend this walk, and I have been totally seduced by this trail for the following reasons: it’s a remarkably stunning walk; it’s fun finding the balls; they are thought provoking and even provocative; they are tactile and very visual & they raise interesting questions about science, climate, geology.

Review by Sussex Exclusive


* A 15th stone can be viewed inside the grounds of West Dean Gardens. Admission is required.


Rural Strides

Rural Strides is passionate about the history and cultural landscape of the Western Weald. Through engaging walks, which interpret the land and share local stories, we seek to connect people to the beauty of the area as well as the inspiring businesses that we partner. We hope you will find a Rural Strides walk an authentic and memorable experience, that will leave you feeling like a local!

You can read more about the Western Weald here

Not interested in a linear walk? View other walks here

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