Crawley Down - 9 miles
Steeped in history, this walk crosses the path of a Roman road four times and the Bluebell Railway twice. High up at at Selsfield Place you can see both North and South Downs (just). If your timing is right you could even see a train and have a glass of wine in your hand at the same time!
|OS Grid Ref||TQ 346 374|
|Post Code||RH10 4UP|
From the car park in Crawley Down, walk south along the road away from the shops. As the main road turns sharp right keep straight ahead along Sandhill Lane. This is a private road with large houses to both left and right. Follow Sandhill Lane to the right as you come to a fork in the road. After about 300 yards the track continues into private property. Take the footpath on the right here. The path now winds downhill on a sturdy path to a stream and then climbs again.
At the top of the hill, take the footpath on the left following the track past Fen Cottage and continue all the way to a main road. This is your first encounter with the theoretical course of the London to Portslade Roman road which passes through the grounds of the Alexander House Hotel and crosses your path (although there are few signs of it today). Take the footpath on the other side of the road, opposite the entrance to Turners Hill Park. Follow this path along a concrete track towards ‘Woodlands’.
After the house, the footpath continues downhill past a lake towards a bridge over a stream. Cross the style into the field and continue along the right-hand edge of the field. After a few yards the path takes you briefly under trees (where you may be able to see another lake through the undergrowth on your right).
In the next field follow the footpath, now going gently uphill again. Your second encounter with the putative Roman road is in this field. Pass under electric cables into the next field, still following the footpath which continues to wind uphill for a while. When the footpath begins to level out, look out for a wooden gate on your left and go through this. (If you come to a metal gate under more electric cables you have gone too far.) After going through the wooden gate, cross a small double-planked bridge over a shallow ditch and follow the path, still going uphill.
Crossing a style takes you into a short stretch of woodland pitted with old quarry workings until the path delivers you over another style into a field. Eventually the footpath joins a sunken lane which has been running along your left for 50 yards or so. Now on the sunken path, continue uphill, often passing the remains of ancient earthworks as you go. Finally, just as another footpath joins yours, take the path on your left into Selsfield Common (now managed by the National Trust). Shortly afterwards, go through a wooden kissing gate and follow the path through Selsfield Place (where you cross the course of the Roman road once again). When you are on the track on the other side of the farm, views to East Grinstead and the North Downs open up on the left. On the right you should see a water tower and if you stand in the right place you can also see the South Downs through a gap in the trees just to the left of the tower. These views span a total distance of 25 miles. Follow the track down to a road. Turn left and walk along the road for 200 yards.
Cross the road at the entrance to ‘Moatlands’. Immediately take the footpath on the left before going through the gate at the end of Moatlands’ drive. Follow this path up past a scattering of outbuildings then downhill again until you reach a large gate where your path meets another track going both left and right. Turn right and follow the track past a house at the bottom of the hill and onwards towards a gate in front of you. Go through the gate, then straight on where you will find yourself in the corner of a field. Go up the steep slope on your right and cross the field diagonally. The path is not always well defined here but as you climb, views across the valley to Gravetye Manor begin to appear. Keep going diagonally across the field to the far corner.
Go through the gap in the hedge over a rubble surface (laid to reduce the mud) or alternatively take the footpath in the right-hand corner of the field over a double-planked bridge spanning a ditch. Whichever route you take, after a few yards take the footpath on the right, heading uphill. A flight of rough sandstone steps takes you into a field. Continue uphill until the path goes through a hedge into the next field. Now the path becomes really steep before reaching the top of the hill and dropping into a deep sunken path under the trees. Turn left on this path (downhill) then immediately take the left-hand path as the footpath forks two separate ways. You will soon be back in the field which you had recently been climbing. Proceed along the right-hand side of the field until you pick up the footpath going right through a wide gap in the hedgerow into the next field. Proceed across the middle of this steeply sloping field until you drop down and reach the corner of the field.
Follow the track past a lake and onwards to another field. Turn right here and follow the footpath along the base of the valley. Cross over the track and continue through a short stretch of woodland towards the next field. Keep to the right in this field until you find a gate which passes you out onto a narrow road. Take the footpath on the other side of the road and follow it for a few yards until it encounters another track. Turn right and follow the track until you arrive at a bridge under the Bluebell Railway. Perhaps stop here to see a train or continue under the bridge towards the buildings and the Kingscote Estate vineyard at Mill Place. Here it may be possible to have a coffee, a bite to eat or a glass of wine while you relax and watch the steam trains puff by. Continue onwards over an old brick bridge and take the footpath on your right, now walking along a track with fish ponds on your left and a stream on your right. Follow the track as it winds uphill.
When path turns sharp left towards the top of the hill, go through the gate on the right. Follow the footpath downhill across the field. You should be pointing slightly to the left of an electricity pylon (seen in the middle distance) as you descend. At the bottom of the hill, you will reach a stream. Follow the stream, keeping it to your right, until you reach a bridge. Cross the bridge and turn left. The path leads you over a double planked bridge avoiding boggy ground and on towards the edge of the field. Go through a couple of gates and walk through the woods until you find a steep railway bank. Cross the style here and climb the bank towards the foot crossing. If you want to see a train at this point, it is safest to cross over the line first and wait at the other side. When you have finished here, continue down the bank, crossing the style at the bottom. Continue to a single-track road.
Turn right and walk along the road for about 1 mile until you reach Vowels Lane where you can see Kingscote Station to your right in the distance along the road. Cross the road and continue through the farmyard at Tickeridge Farm. The path is clearly signed and takes you through several gates until you find yourself in a field. The footpath now leads you down across the field, ending up at a small stream at the bottom, hidden in the hedgerow. Cross the wooden bridge and proceed along the side of the next field. Keep to this path until you reach a road. Turn left onto the road and then immediately right towards Fenn Place Mill. Take great care here; although there are only a few yards of road, walkers can take drivers by surprise on the bends. Just a few yards down the drive towards Fenn Place Mill there is a footpath sign on the right.
Take the footpath on the right and proceed towards the farm, looking out for bluebells and orchids in the spring. When you reach a gravel surface go straight on towards a blue barn. At the barn follow the path round to the right and soon, to your left, you will find a wooden bridge over a stream. Cross the bridge and continue to a concrete bridge over the outflow of the lake in front of Fen Place Mill. Keep the hedge on your left ignoring any paths that take you over the stream. Follow the path as it winds uphill. Shortly after passing a pond, take the next footpath through a kissing gate on your right. Continue gently uphill along a wide grassy path. In the next field turn left, still uphill, crossing the invisible path of the Roman road for the last time. Follow the path to a single-track road at Burleigh House. Your route back to your car is now straight forward, just follow the road all the way back to Crawley Down.
Waypoint Arrival Times – 2021 Timetable