This 10 km West Sussex walk takes about an hour when combining a mixture of running, walking, getting lost and taking photos and if you want to use a map, it’s Ordnance Survey Explorer 34. There is a slightly longer route for the intrepid. There are no major venues en route but lots of stunning countryside to enjoy and some fabulous views.
Start in the recreation ground in the centre of Warninglid and then head down what must surely be called Kissing Gate Alley which starts behind the allotments and brings you out on to Colwood Lane. You can pick up the High Weald Landscape Trail (HWLT) here which runs down Colwood Lane but if you cross more or less straight over, and follow the footpath for a short while and then turn right, there’s a much more pleasant footpath that runs parallel to the HWLT and joins it again further down. It’s off the beaten track, undulating and I didn’t meet anyone until the outskirts of Bolney.
When you get to Jeremy’s Lane you go left for a short distance and then right through the grounds at Wykehurst. It has the feeling of a Brontë sister novel here with sloping parklands ahead of you and if you look back you may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of this extraordinary building designed in 1871 in a combination of French and German architectural styles and best described as Gothic. The main gates have a pair of griffins with spread wings perched on either side and the house has featured in a number of films including The Eagle Has Landed and Oh! What a Lovely War. As kids in the 1970s, I remember hearing fascinating stories about its many occupants (which included a free-flying parrot) but it’s been owned by an Iranian writer and filmmaker Ebrahim Golestan since the 1980s.
Go straight down through the grounds and pick up a woodland trail that leads you to Bolney. In late May and June this next stretch of woodland trail will be dripping with rhododendrons and when you get to the pigs on your left and a bridge ahead, you know you’re nearly in Bolney. You can take a shortcut to your right just before the bridge and through Nailard’s Wood but why would you.
Bolney seems to have lost a little of its character over the years, but it’s sleepy, quiet and pleasant enough. Look out for the footpath to your right because it’s easy to miss … it’s just opposite the playing fields so don’t bowl on past as I did. Follow this straight path over Foxhole Lane (home to the gin by that name) until you get to Brookers Farm and you’ll notice you’re coming into the vineyards. You have two options at Brookers Farm. Bear right and you go straight through the vines and on to Old Mill House Farm but the sign is not clear and it’s easy to miss. The alternative route is as you approach Brookers Farm itself where you bear left. This is a pleasant if longer detour that takes you through the edge of the vines. You come to a little road where you turn right and then very quickly right again and up a concrete lane through the old Wobblegate Orchards and meet up with the other route at Old Mill House Farm.
Keep going straight north through this lovely woodland trail where in April and May there are bluebells in abundance. At Cross Colwood Lane turn left and follow the lane for a short while until the lane bends sharp right and you bear left to the side of a driveway headed to Chargrove and Colwood Manor. There’s a steep climb here but remember to stop and look back for fabulous views before heading back into bluebell woods. You’re on one of the High Weald Circular Walks here and when you emerge at the lane go straight across and then immediately right, past the chocolate box house and up into the woods where more rhododendrons and bluebells await.
As you emerge on Earwig Lane you have a choice. You can turn left and then right into the woods and follow this through to Mill Lane at Lower Beeding where you can have lunch at The Crabtree. Then when lunch is complete turn left at the end of Mill Lane and follow the woodland path around the edge of Leonardslee and this will eventually lead to some truly beautiful woods and back to The Grange on the B2115 just outside Warninglid. Turn right at this road and walk or run less than a mile back to the village. This route adds a good 4 or 5 km to the route but is worth it.
Alternatively, if legs are weary at Earwig Lane just turn right and you have about 1 ½ km back Warninglid … up the ever-evil ascent that is Rifleman Hill and passed the house with the moon-shaped window believed to be used by smugglers. With luck, you’ve just got time for lunch at The Half Moon!
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