East Grinstead - 6 miles
This sub-urban walk shows off some of the best features of East Grinstead. From historic timbered buildings along the High Street to the towering Imberhorne Viaduct. Returning to East Grinstead Station via a well-appointed sub-urban landscape. Stout boots are not required if you take the shorter route but, as you will see, the surrounding countryside is never far away.
|OS Grid Ref||TQ 388 382|
|Post Code||RH19 1EB|
Keeping left as you leave the Bluebell Railway station, pass Sainsbury’s and head towards the main-line station. Follow the road as it bears right until you reach a roundabout. Go straight across the roundabout (keeping to the pavement of course) towards a timber warehouse and proceed along Railway Approach. At the end of Railway Approach turn right.
Cross the road at the traffic lights and continue gently uphill passing shops along the way. As you approach a mini roundabout take the road on your right. Cross the road at the pedestrian crossing, then turn left and passing Clarenden House. You will soon be walking along the High Street along an elevated pathway following the longest run of timber-framed buildings in England, some dating back to the 15th and 16th century. As you make your way you will see the tower of St. Swithuns Church over the rooftops on the left. This has a more recent appearance having been re-built in 1874 although there has been a church on this site since the 11th century.
As the road rises to meet your path and the steps to your left disappear, walk over to the main road and cross at the traffic lights. Proceed a little further along the High Street until a gap between the buildings reveals the entrance to St Swithuns.
Head towards the church and turn right, following the paved footpath diagonally through the churchyard. If you wish to explore the churchyard you will find memorials to three martyrs burned at the stake but also, more happily, to John Mason Neale who wrote the carol ‘Good King Wencaslas’ while at Sackville College. When you emerge from the churchyard, turn left.
At the end of the road turn right and walk past the Chequer Mead Theatre. On your right you can see a tall castellated building towering above the car park. It is newer than it appears, having been erected in 1914 as a water tower and built of sandstone to fit in with its surroundings.
At the end of the road turn left. Cross the road at the traffic lights and walk over the bridge looking down at the road far beneath in a cutting that was dug for a railway line many years ago. The road below is called the Beeching Way in memory of Dr Richard Beeching who masterminded the controversial removal of many local railways (but without which we would not enjoy the Worth Way or the Bluebell Railway).
Cross the road and proceed along the path ahead which leads you into the grounds of East Court. Follow the path past a children’s playground and continue on the footpath down a flight of steps. Cross the access road and keep walking until you reach the main road.
Turn right, now walking along the A264 Holtye Road. Turn right into Lynton Park Avenue and follow this road all the way to a T junction. Shortly after entering Lynton Park Avenue, look out for a couple of terracotta stones marking the year 2000 and placed at the notional position where the Greenwich Meridian crosses the road.
Turn right onto Lancaster Drive and follow the road all the way to Fulmar Drive, passing Merlin Way and Hillary Close along the way. This housing estate was built near the Queen Victoria Hospital where pioneering surgeon Sir Archibald McIndoe practiced new treated burns treatments on his “Guinea Pigs” during the Second World War. Each of the local roads are named after the people, aircraft and aircraft engines associated with the Guinea Pig pilot’s stories.
If you wish to cut the walk short or want to avoid mud in the winter, take the path between house numbers 26 and 30. This footpath is an a “all weather” surface which is harder than the path further up the road. Passing through Ashplats Wood the path is sometimes covered with leaves but is still relatively sturdy. In a few yards the path drops down a flight of steps towards a wooden bridge over a stream. Cross the bridge and continue on the “all weather” path until you meet another path coming from the left. You have bypassed way points 16 and 17 so now continue the walk from way point 18.
To do the longer route, carry on along Lancaster Drive towards way point 16.
As Lancaster Drive turns sharp left, take Fulmar Drive on the right and climb to the top of the hill. Bear left into Stirling Way and after a few yards look for a gate and a footpath on the right.
Go through the gate and follow a footpath which soon leads you through Ashplats Wood. Ignore all other paths to the right and left as you go. After 1/3 mile the path drops sharply until you reach a bridge over a stream at the bottom of a valley. This stream is a tributary of the River Medway which drains into the Thames at Rochester, 29 miles away. Cross the bridge and follow the path along the edge of a small clearing marked by a lone apple tree.
After the clearing, when you reach another path, turn left. Just past a pond, you will see a recreation field ahead beyond the trees. Before you emerge from the woods, take the path on the right. When you reach a single-track tarmac road, turn right and follow it until you see a narrow but hard path on the left leading uphill across the grass.
Follow the path which now passes below the terrace and flower beds in front of East Court Mansion. East Court was built in 1769 by London Lawyer John Cranston who married Catherine Green from Estcots Farm, ten years earlier. 15th century Estcots Farm House still stands, just 5 minute’s walk away, hidden behind the trees to the south. East Court is now looked after by East Grinstead Town Council who have offices as well as the Council Chamber inside the building offices.
Turn right at the end of the terrace and head uphill past the mansion on a path that returns you to the playground you passed earlier. However, before you make your way to the playground, perhaps take a stroll along the middle and upper terraces of the mansion. The flower beds are gorgeous in the summer and you can see for miles across the parkland, Ashplats Wood and the surrounding countryside. At this spot you will be standing on the Greenwich Meridian, signified by a stone laid in the ground on the upper terrace.
Turn left at the playground and retrace your steps out of East Court. Back over the bridge, keep going past de la Warr Road, and continue along College Lane on a narrow pavement. As the road bends to the right and disappears behind a sandstone rockface, take the road down to the left and follow it all the way to the end. Cross the road and turn right, walking past Sackville College Almshouse back along the High Street. Positioned prominently in front of the College a statue of Sir McIndoe stands his hands on the shoulders one of his remarkable ‘Guinea Pig’ patients.
After passing timber framed Cromwell House and Sackville House you will reach the Dorset Arms. This is an old coaching inn, revealed by the wide carriageway entrance through which coaches were driven. The brick façade, not very attractive to our modern eyes, was added over the original timber frame when timber framing became unfashionable in the 18th century. Just after the Dorset Arms, turn left down Hermitage Lane. Follow the lane all the way until it joins The Rise and then reaches a wider road.
Turn right uphill and proceed towards a roundabout. Cross the roundabout and turn right uphill along Ship Street. Turn left and walk down Musgrave Avenue. At the end of the avenue, turn right and walk down Hurst Farm Road. Continue all the way to a roundabout at the bottom of the hill. Go across the roundabout onto Brooklands Way and then immediately turn left onto Garden Wood Road. Pass under the magnificent Imberhorne viaduct (and the Bluebell Railway far above) and continue on a meandering road, all the way to the top of the hill. At the top of the hill the road passes over the Worth Way.
Before crossing the bridge, take the path on the right which drops down to the Worth Way. Now turn right onto the Worth Way and walk away from the bridge back towards East Grinstead. This path follows the route of the railway line from Three Bridges to East Grinstead which was ripped up as part of the Beeching cuts.
At the end of the Worth Way, pass a two-story car park on the right (one of the recommended car parks for this walk but one for which you will have to pay). Go straight forwards to a footbridge which crosses the modern London to East Grinstead railway. The path now drops down in front of the mainline station entrance.
If you arrived by the mainline, perhaps wander up to the Bluebell Railway at way point 1 and visit the Bluebell Railway station before your journey back. If you arrived by the Bluebell Railway, return to way point 1 and catch a train back to Horsted Keynes or Sheffield Park. If you parked at way point 27, continue the walk from way point 1 onwards.
Waypoint Arrival Times – 2020 Timetable