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This Week's Walks - Archive

Please see the Saturday Walker's Club This Week's Walks page.

This is an archive of walks done by the Saturday Walker's Club. You should only need to use this page if the SWC website is down.

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Monday, 3 May 2021

May Day Bank Holiday Walk - Billingshurst to Amberley - the South Downs

SWC 8 - Billingshurst to Amberley

Length: 22.8 km. (14.2 miles)    Several options to shorten, including diverting to Pulborough (8 miles) Toughness:  6 out of 10    One stiff climb up onto the South Downs.  Remainder of walk: 3 out of 10

(Note: different to usual departure station)

London Bridge:  09-36 hrs  Southern service to Bognor & Southampton Central   East Croydon 09-53 hrs
Arrive Billingshurst: 10-44 hrs


Amberley to London Bridge: 17 mins past the hour

Rail ticket:  buy a day return to Amberley

Covid-19 Compliance: please note the current guidance on this website and observe social distancing. You should all come prepared to exchange contact details for track and trace purpose. You can either pre-register for this walk (not essential ) by e-mailing me at  or, if you prefer, please write your name, e-mail address and contact 'phone number on a small piece of paper for handing to me on the train or when we assemble at walk start. Thank you.  

This long(ish) walk is a bit of a tease.  For much of the walk you have the escarpment of the Downs ahead of you - knowing you have to climb up onto its top - but the darn thing never seems to get any nearer !  A similar syndrome to Windsor Castle at the end of the Long Walk on our Sunningdale to Windsor walk.....

But today's walk has lots of variety and at this time of year it is particularly enjoyable. Just after the start you walk through a large bluebell wood, for today's fix of the little blighters. Then it's over varied countryside and through a vineyard to the small village of Nutbourne, where you should find somewhere to stop for your picnic. (Unfortunately, the excellent Rising Sun pub in the village is not planning to reopen until mid-May). For those desperate for a pub lunch - and subject to website updates - you can divert from Nutbourne (onto SWC 9 - Pulborough to Amberley walk ) and try your luck at the White Horse pub Marehill, after which you should do the afternoon leg of Walk SWC 9), or having dodged the gliders in Parham airfield (see below) you can take a short diversion to The Crown Inn, Storrington. 

For non-pub goers, after your picnic in Nutbourne you experience the "tease" of the South Downs escarpment ahead of you. Before you reach it you have to skirt around a golf course and then negotiate a private flying club - Parham airfield - watch out for gliders and their tug just above you - then you have a long stretch of quiet lane walking to the base of the Downs. The climb up to the top is tough but fortunately not too long. Having regained your breath once on top, you enjoy a stretch of South Down ridge walking, with panoramic views all around. You can also walk within the Springhead Estate access land, which is much softer on the feet than the stoney South Downs Way. You eventually drop down to a farm and then follow a woodland path down to a road above Amberley. If you wish you can take the route into Amberley Village, where you might be lucky and find somewhere open for an outdoors tea, but today's main route has you descending High Titten (road) to join a pavement beside a main road for the short distance to Amberley railway station. Next to the station is the Bridge Inn, which closes at 4 pm today and probably before your arrival. The outdoors Riverside Tea Rooms nearby might be open still, but best bring plenty of liquid with you today for your post walk drink. 
Enjoy !

Walk Directions are here:  L=swc.8

1 comment:

Marcus said...

Either the weather forecast put would-be walkers off today, or Karen's seaside walk was more enticing - or both - but we only mustered n=6 today, 3 off the scheduled train, with 2 having driven from Surrey, and another car driver who set off ahead of us, believing she was late - we caught up with her later in the morning.
As for the weather, it was w=mostly-sunny-with-high-winds, but the rain held off (until early evening when train travellers were back at London Bridge).
The bluebell wood at walk start was almost full on, and all day we enjoyed fine displays of Spring flowers: more bluebells, lesser celandines, wooden Ms, primroses and much more, and our reward for the tough climb up onto the South Downs in the afternoon was to be welcomed by a bank of cowslips, probably the best I have ever seen.
Sheltered from the wind, temperatures today were perfect for Spring walking as our select group enjoyed good conversation as we progressed on this excellent walk, with its variety - and hills to keep us honest.
Just before Nutbourne 2 stopped for their picnic before taking their planned onward journey to Pulborough - I hope they enjoyed their afternoon walk. 2 stopped for their lunch at a table outside the closed Rising Sun pub in Nutbourne (a favourite watering hole of mine on any SWC walk - so what a shame it was closed today). That left the remaining 2 of us to stop for our picnic at a bench in Nutbourne Common, out of the wind with fine scenery all around. We waved at our companions as they passed us by, then set off after them, twenty minutes behind - still in sunshine - and strong wind. Our companions later reported spotting a badger in the light woodland just before the golf course (it would have been a first for me). The winds were too high to permit the gliders flying today, so for once on this walk we did not have to duck and dive as we walked down the edge of Parham airfield. On reaching the road we just resisted the temptation to divert left to the Crown Inn for a tincture - if we had we would never have completed the walk. Along Clay Lane, then the ascent of the Downs, with the mentioned cowslips at the top, to continue on the South Downs Way in such strong cross winds that it was difficult to keep upright at times. Any thought of being in time for the 16-17 hrs train were abandoned as we concentrated on making progress against the wind along the top. It was a relief to drop down to High Titten, to leave the winds behind us as we made for the railway station, but not before checking if the Bridge Inn was open. Alas, it had closed at 4 pm, but at least we were spared the rude "welcome" given to our companions who tried to obtain tea at the Houghton Bridge Tea Rooms. Again, they had closed early - why do so-called tea rooms close at 4 pm, which is tea time in my book ? !
The three rail travellers were reacquainted at the station in good time for the 17-18 hrs service, to be joined by the car driver taking the hop back to Billingshurst. Rail travel for us today was excellent and on time, in contrast to the debacle on this line experienced by SWC walkers on Saturday. Maybe the thought of a repeat performance was a third reason for avoiding this walk today - a shame as a wonderful days walking was missed.