West Hoathly - 7 miles
This circular walk has three good places to see trains steam past. Part of the route follows the High Weald Landscape Trail and there are are plenty of views and historic buildings along the way. Remember to take your camera.
|OS Grid Ref||TQ 366 326|
|Post Code||RH19 4PN|
This walk starts from the Finche Field car park in West Hoathly. Take the path gently uphill (furthest from the car park entrance). After a few yards you will see a metal plate indicating what you might see from this viewpoint. Continue along the path to the right of the viewpoint until you reach a barrier and steps leading downwards on your left. Go down the steps and turn right on to the road. Follow the road, turning left at the Cat Inn and passing the Priest House, until you reach West Hoathly Bowls Club.
Take the track in front of you that leads to Philpots Farm and Quarry. Continue to along this this track for about half a mile and you will reach Philpots School. Continue to the end of the track until you see a bridlepath sign that points to the right. Following a bridlepath sign takes you between buildings then steeply downhill in to woodland. After a few yards turn left at another footpath sign and continue downhill along the side of a wooded valley.
To your right you will pass a square pond and a small stream hidden in the undergrowth. After a while you will cross the stream. At this point you may hear the sound of waterfalls although they are likely to be hidden behind undergrowth and bamboo thickets in the private property on your left. Follow the path until you reach a track leading down to a private lake. Go straight on over the track and continue along the bridle path in front of you. The bridle path continues through woodland for about half a mile.
As you emerge from the woods take the path on the left as indicated by a footpath sign and head downhill eventually back into woodland. At the bottom of the valley you will reach a stream and a footbridge. Cross the bridge and continue uphill until the path takes you to a field. Bear left here and follow the path upwards across the field. It is worth taking a break half way up the hill and looking behind you. If you stop at the right point you might be able to see an astronomical observatory near a large house in the distance.
Continue along this footpath until you reach a road. Then turn right. The single track road winds downwards for a few hundred yards. You will see a footpath sign pointing left as the road goes round a corner. Take the footpath ahead and continue into a deeply sunken part of the track.
Soon you will see a footpath sign and a timbered building (Old Holly Cottage). Take the footpath on the left, passing Old Holly Cottage, then past Holly Farmhouse, until you find a footpath on your left, opposite a barn. Cross the style and turn right, following the footpath downhill all the way to the bottom of the valley (ignore any paths that fork to the left). Crossing a style into woodland you will see yet another stream with a footbridge.
Cross the bridge and onwards to the next gate. Head uphill towards the right hand corner of the field (this bit is steep) until you reach a gate. Turn right through the gate and follow the path through a farm and out on to the road at Highbrook.
Turn left, continuing onwards until you reach All Saints Church. Turn right here. Passing the church you will find Highbrook Smokery. It is believed that this circular structure was built in the18th century for preserving meat. Following the path from here you will be treated to fantastic views over the surrounding countryside. As you make your way down the hill on a track you will go through a couple of gates before entering a field. Continue downhill along the left hand side of the field. At the bottom of the hill you will enter woodland again and then the final bridge over a stream. Cross the bridge and take the steps upward and out into the next field.
Follow the path over a couple of styles until you reach the Bluebell Railway at a level crossing. Cross the track here. If you wait behind the fence for a train at this point you could be rewarded with a view at close quarters (see picture on the right).
Turn left after the level crossing and carry on to the bridge. Here is another great place to see trains steaming past (the photo on the left was taken here).
Take the footpath on the opposite side of the road and follow the path through several fields (keeping to the right of each field) until you reach a road. Turn left and continue along the road for about 300 yards until you see a footpath sign on the left. Take this path proceeding downhill until you see a footpath sign pointing to the right.
Take this path and follow it to the next field. From now on you will be crossing several fields for about 3/4 mile until you reach Sharpthorne. Go diagonally upwards across the first field towards a large oak tree near the right hand corner. Go straight across the next field (bearing slightly to the right). Then go diagonally downwards across the next field, passing a lone hornbeam tree on the way. Once in the next field proceed upwards along the side of the hedge. Continue climbing until you go through a gate into the trees. It’s worth glancing back here to take in the view and catch your breath. You will see the church at Highbrook and the South Downs beyond. Now continue under the trees until you pass through some small industrial units and out onto the road at Sharpthorne. Turn right and then, just after The Sharpthorne Organic Cafe , turn left in to Station Road .
After a while turn right in to Hamsey Road and follow it all the way to a level crossing. Looking left you will see Sharpthorne Tunnel. Another great place to watch steam trains trundling past! If you stand in the right place you can see all the way through the tunnel.
After passing through the final gate at the level crossing a go straight on, following the track up along Bluebell Lane. At the end of the lane continue uphill along a path that skirts along a fence. Halfway up the hill is another footpath sign. Keep going uphill until you reach a road. As you regain your breath, you will see the The Fox pub to your left. Cross the road and take a footpath on the right that returns you to the car park.
Waypoint Arrival Times – 2021 Timetable