Chailey Common - 7 miles
The most southerly Bluebell Railway Walk starts in the heathland of Chailey Common and descends to the River Ouse through a typically varied landscape. A final treat awaits at the end when the sails of Chailey Windmill appear together with views to the South Downs.
|OS Grid Ref||TQ 391 218|
|Post Code||BN8 4JE|
Take the footpath south, towards the sun, out of the car park. Follow the footpath (parallel to the road) until you see a gate on the left. Go through the gate onto the road and turn right. Follow the road to a T junction. Cross the road and take the footpath (over the road to the left) towards Grassington Farm.
Continue along this track, through a gate and proceed towards a couple of barns. The path bears right and passes between the barns. Walk all the way along the track until you leave the farm and cross a small stream at the bottom of the hill. Immediately over the stream take the track on the left and after a few yards go through a gate into a field. Continue along the right-hand edge of the field to another gate.
Go though the gate and then follow the track for a few yards until you see a gate on the left just before the first of a long line of bungalows stretching uphill. Proceed through this gate on the left and follow the path through several more gates. Your route passes between fields which are often occupied by horses and sheep. At the end of the track pass buildings on the left and go through the final gate. Now turn left downhill, skirting to the left of Red Ghyll cottages along the way.
Cross a bridge over a stream at the bottom of the hill and continue along the path for about 1/3 mile until you meet a road. Turn right onto the road toward Newick. At the point the road goes sharp right, proceed straight on into Mill Lane and after a few yards follow the Ouse Valley Way footpath through a gate on the left. The path eventually dips downhill through pine trees and passes beneath a tall electricity pylon before reaching flatter ground at Rotherfield Meadow.
Taking the path to the left of the gate at Rotherfield Meadow soon leads you along the meandering River Ouse. Shortly you will see a bridge over the river enticing you into the grounds of Sheffield Park, a National Trust property. This part of Sheffield Park is free to access and you may like to cross the bridge to see the Iron Gates Lock, currently under restoration. An information board here contains a map of Sheffield Park in case you wish to spend more time exploring the grounds.
If you decided to cross the river and explore, now return to way-point 12. Continue along the footpath which veers away a little from the river before it meets it again after about 1/4 mile.
After leaving the river continue to a stile which passes through a hedge and onto the road at Sheffield Park Station. You may have to go through another gate and pass under a trio of electric cables before you get there. Cross the stile and climb the bank. You will see the entrance to Sheffield Park Station in front of you.
If trains are running perhaps buy a station ticket and have some refreshments or a look around the station before resuming your walk. There is a picnic area on the right of the pathway to the station. There is also a footpath which takes you along the foot of the railway embankment where you may catch sight of a train but it is far better to get a better close-up view from the station platforms. When you are ready to move on, walk south along the road toward the cream-coloured railway cottages.
At the footpath sign, cross the road and follow the footpath into a field (next to the entrance to Bluebell Business Park). Head diagonally across the field towards the last of a line of trees and a number of buildings. Continue along the tarmac drive. Pass the partly-timbered Wapsborne Manor and turn right, following the footpath past Wapsborne Keeper Cottage.
Now walk along the righthand side of a large field until you find a footpath on the right leading into woodland. Cross a small wooden bridge over a ditch and into the woods and walk uphill. Bluebells cover the woodland understory for nearly a mile at the right time of year. Follow the footpath marker posts along the Ouse Valley Way and Greenwich Meridian Trail (also sign posted towards the Sloop). Hornbeam trees give way to Silver Birch as you make your way along the path.
Go through a gate into Kitts campsite. An avenue of trees takes you forward in the right direction. When you reach a footpath sign offering you three directions, go left, following the Sussex Border Path. Follow the footpath through the campsite until you leave by a gate and head downhill. When the footpath reaches a road, turn right and continue along the road for just over 200 yards passing Massetts along the way.
Take the footpath in the hedge on your left into a field. Now follow this path, keeping a hedge on your left until you come to a style in the corner of a field. Cross the style. You won’t be able to see where the footpath goes at this point as the field dips away from view. However, walk straight on with the hedge now on your right. Keep going in the same direction as you walk down hill and you will soon see where the path follows a line of trees and crosses a stream at the bottom of the valley.
Now climb the hill to a gate at the top where there is a three-way footpath sign. Continue onwards, descending once again with woodland on the right and a hedge on the left. After about 1/3 mile you will come to a gate and another three-way footpath sign. Go straight on through the gate and into a field. Soon you will come to the outbuildings at Great Noven Farm. When the path ends, turn left passing between farm buildings and then continue away from the buildings on a concrete track.
Before the track bears left follow the footpath/track on the right to some red-tile hung houses at Little Noven. You will find a gate on the left which takes you into the woods. Go through the gate and take the path on the right down to a bridge. Once across the bridge you should see another three-way footpath sign. Turn right and follow the path again down to another small wooden bridge. Ignore any paths to the left for now and continue onwards with the valley bottom and a small stream to your right. Keep going over yet another wooden bridge eventually passing by a pond.
When you reach a gate bear left past the gate. After a few yards it is time to head uphill on a wide path climbing through the trees. Keep climbing, following the well-worn path (soon becoming narrower) until you reach a bank and hedge behind which you will spot some buildings. Turn right along the path and follow it keeping the hedge/fence on the left at all times. St Georges, once a Heritage Crafts School but now a residential property, comes into view together with a windmill.
Still keeping St Georges boundary to the left as it swings around the corner views open up across the Low Weald to the South Downs. Follow the path past the entrance to St Georges and then turn left again as soon as you can. Continue with a wall on the left until you arrive at a little stone-built cottage. Turn right on the path heading away from the cottage and follow it, keeping to the same (level) contour and ignoring all others going up or down hill to the right or left. After about 1/3 mile you will find yourself back at the car park.
If you still have the energy perhaps explore more of Chailey Common. The Common was first recorded in the Domesday book nearly a thousand years ago and for a good deal of this time it has been open heathland. An information sign near the car park informs you that it is home to nightjars, the wasp spider and carnivorous sundew plants.
Waypoint Arrival Times – 2021 Timetable