Distance: 7.5 km. Elevation: 100 m. Difficulty: Easy to Medium.
For this walk, you will need Ordnance Explorer 135. The route starts at St Giles Church in Horsted Keynes but there is limited parking there, so you may want to park in the main village where there are also a couple of pubs for when you return. This walk reminded me just how quintessentially Sussex this area is and it was sleepy and sublime. The church is both historic and achingly pretty and it dates back to both Norman and Saxon times.
You are on the Sussex Border Path here and you walk past the church and school and head north. Descend the gentle slope of a woodland path until you reach a series of fishing lakes which in June are covered in waterlilies and home to lots of baby ducks. It’s pretty here and you amble along until the path starts to bend and wind slightly.
Look out for the gates to Broadhurst Manor. It’s Grade II listed, and dates back to the late 16th century although some parts were demolished in about 1780, restored and greatly enlarged in 1934. The pond is thought to be part of the original hammer ponds for iron working. The pond was also part of the string of lakes you have just passed and which were known in the 17th century as the fish stews. The house looks gorgeous but is privately owned.
Keep following the Sussex Border Path until it meets the lane, where you turn left, and then after about 1 km, turn right. The landscape has now changed and there are large sweeping fields. Although you walk along the lane for a short stretch, I met no traffic at all. Where the Sussex Border Path turns left across a field and towards Sharpethorne (you can see their church spire in the distance), you turn right over a stile and straight across a large field. There are views of the South Downs in the distance, a beautiful mixture of trees and it’s all pretty stunning.
When you reach the lane, turn right, then left at the first turn. These are tiny little lanes and you wind your way down to a little ford that crosses the road. Just after this, turn right onto a wooded bridlepath and the landscape changes again. Now you are walking through woodland which in parts looks quite tropical. There are glimpses of the lakes through the trees, and I saw a kingfisher and wild deer.
Eventually, you come out on the Horsted Keynes to Chelwood Gate lane but a short distance after Warren Farm you turn right again, which takes you via a shortcut across fields to the back of St Giles church.
This was a fabulous West Sussex walk and the only sounds I heard were birdsong and the sound of the steam trains from the nearby Bluebell Railway.
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