On a cold, crisp Sunday, I set off to have an adventure on this West Sussex walk from Broadbridge Heath to Warninglid. Armed with an Ordnance Survey Explorer map (OL34), a backpack containing coffee and cake, and the knowledge that there were at least three good pubs on my route.
You don’t have to start this walk in Broadbridge Heath and if you prefer, pick it up from anywhere in Horsham. But for the full version, head to the large Tesco store and go over the blue motorway bridge. This isn’t the prettiest part of the trail, but you do pick up parts of Horsham’s Riverside Walk having skirted round Tanbridge House School, and down to Hills Farm Road. You can either stick with the Riverside Walk all the way to Kerves Lane or cut through the south of Horsham via Denne Park and Chesworth. I chose the latter.
The Riverside Walk route is a little longer and busier too. For the cut-through route, make your way to Cricketfield Road and on to the end of Denne Road along the little river side path. At the railway bridge, turn south towards Denne Park House (originally a medieval deer park built in 1605), before turning left and around Chesworth Farm. You are heading towards Amiesmill Bridge on Kerves Lane and will find yourself enjoying wide open spaces, bracken, hilly views and waterways. You might meet a few walkers here but this is by far the busiest stretch of the walk.
Far from the madding crowd
From Amiesmill Farm, the footpath cuts diagonally south east across fields towards Bulls Farm and Sedgwick Lane. By now on my walk the sun was high, and the frosts were beginning to melt. There are plenty of parts of our Sussex countryside where you still won’t find many walkers, even when quite close to a town. This is one such route, and by this point in the walk, you could be forgiven for thinking you are alone in the world, with just the birds and the wildlife.
The map is easy to follow and from Bulls Farm, there’s just a short walk up the lane before you’re back on to the footpath to the side of the entrance to Sedgwick Park. This takes you round the edges of this country house and up into Home Wood. Here perhaps is the muddiest section and a good place for a cup of coffee. You’ve walked roughly 7 km and once you’ve conquered these woods, you are met with a vast sloping landscape leading you down towards Nuthurst. It feels slightly majestic, and it’s not hard to imagine Henry VIII galloping across here on a hunt.
Talking of Henry VIII
At Nuthurst, there are a couple of delights to enjoy. The first is the Black Horse which has an interesting history, a great little menu and seats in the garden. Dating back to the 17th century, legend has it the pub once served as a hunting lodge used by Henry VIII which feels like a good reason to have a drink here.
A stroll back to colonial times
From the pub, you head south (or turn right when you come out on the lane opposite the pub if you’re not stopping) and then turn left after a short distance into the old Architectural Plants site. On a day with a clear blue sky, you could be mistaken for thinking you’ve stepped back in time to colonial India rather than enjoying a leisurely West Sussex walk, as you catch glances of little wooden chalets and bungalows hidden in amongst the bamboo and a grand old glasshouse at Cooks Farm.
Cooks Farm is stunning, and you’ll want to stop and explore. Put down roots even and stay perhaps. But you have to head on into Lodgesale Wood by way of what was once an abandoned Keepers Cottage. Is it just me, or do I have a vague childhood memory of a little old lady selling her pottery from here? It’s been bought up and transformed into a beautiful house these days but I can’t help but feel it’s lost some of the mystery and intrigue of its abandoned days.
Here lives a Gruffalo
Lodgesale Wood is enchanting and possibly my favourite part of the walk. The path is well maintained, and you wind and bend your way in amongst the silent trees, listening for the sound of a falling acorn! I met two walkers here, the only people I’d seen apart from the pub since Amiesmill Bridge!
Mrs Gamon and Toby!
This brings you to Newells Lane which has a special place in my heart. Back in the 1970s and early 80s, Mrs Gamon ran a riding school here. A diminutive woman who made up for what she lacked in size with a personality that kept the raggle taggle bunch of kids that we were well in check. Gadding about the countryside, perched on the top of her great old hunter (Toby), she cut quite a figure as us kids whiled away entire weekends hanging out with the horses, cleaning the tack and wading our way through the mud. All while old Todd Gamon tinkered away with his ancient tractor that sat on the edge of the lane most of the time. Halcyon days they were but again, the stables have been converted into a smart new house now.
Wallabies to Warninglid
From Newells Lane, it’s another pleasant woodland section, which brings you out at the back of South Lodge on the A281 and next to a vast wall of Rhododendrons. At nearly 12 km into your walk, The Crabtree (built in the 18th century) is another excellent watering hole with a 500-year-old log fire and an enticing menu. Or if you’re not too muddy, pop into South Lodge for a luxurious cream tea. But remember, you will probably need to book.
With the finishing line almost in sight, turn into Mill Lane and turn left at the end, following the path right up to the boundary of both Leonardslee and Furnace Pond. If you’re lucky and quiet here, in the next stretch of woods, you might also see wallabies, many of which have escaped from Leonardslee over the years.
The wall and the WWII soldier
From here, you just follow the well-maintained path which leads you right through William’s Wood all the way to The Grange on the B2115 just outside Warninglid. If you look carefully, you’ll see a little enclosure of strange wood carvings as you wind your way along the woodland paths, and the occasional chicken fungus too, and the autumn leaves of the Beech trees are spectacular here. When you come out of the woods onto the road, the old wooden door in The Grange wall has many a story to tell, including a romance from WWII but that’s a tale for another time. The Warninglid crossroads are about ¾ km ahead and by the time you get there, you’ll be ready for your next stop at The Half Moon! Now all you have to do is walk home again! Good luck with that.
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