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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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Saturday, 16 July 2016

Saturday Second Walk - The South Downs (avoiding Southern trains)

SWC Walk 155 - Petersfield to Cocking
Length: 12.4 miles (19.9km) (with shorter option - see below)
Toughness: 6 out of 10: 400 metres of ascent

9.30 train from Waterloo to Petersfield, arriving 10.31

(The 9.27 Exeter St David's service from Clapham Junction connects to the above train at Woking, arriving 9.45, departing 9.55, but this train may be crowded...)

Buy a day return to Petersfield. Book this via the South West Trains website or buy in advance from a SWT ticket office to get its summer £16 day return offer, though in fact with a Network card the fare is only £17.90, so it is not a huge difference.

This walk had a recent outing with the midweek walkers, but on a day of heavy rain when I don't think anyone turned up. But I wanted to give it a Saturday outing anyway (with fingers crossed for nicer weather...)

It is a simple walk along a section of the South Downs Way that is not otherwise covered by SWC walks. For the most part there are no directions (though you can read more about the walk and find a map of the route here) but none are needed, because the route is well waymarked. The exception to this is the initial section south from Petersfield to Buriton, where the SDW is joined. Directions for this can be found at the start of SWC Walk 18 Petersfield to Rowlands Castle which are here. Towards its end, this document also gives brief details of the South Downs route to Cocking (walk 18, option a) so is worth printing in its entirety.

Lunch on this walk is either at the White Hart in South Harting, approximately 6 miles into the walk, requiring a descent from the downs (it may be worth calling 01730 825 124 before doing this to check they have room), or at Uppark, a National Trust property just to the south of the route, which has the usual NT cafe serving limited hot food options till 2.30pm and tea and cakes until 4pm (note: this is open Saturdays too, not just Sunday to Thursday as the walk details say).  I have no idea if this cafe is accessible without paying admission to Uppark, however (for NT members this is not an issue, obviously)


If you want to visit Uppark, or are just feeling lazy, there are buses (number 54 or 91) from outside the pub at South Harting at 16.15, 16.21 and 18.22 to Petersfield station, taking 20 minutes. I calculate the walk to South Harting as 6 miles and if you visit Uppark, 7 miles. You could even be ultra laid back and have an early lunch at the Five Bells in Buriton, just 4km/2.5 miles into the walk.


Just after lunch, note that SDW skirts to the south of Beacon Hill, but you can save 1km off the walk (though adding a strenuous ascent) by simply climbing straight up over the hill: excellent views on the top. You rejoin the SDW on the far side of the hill.

After that you can just stay on the South Downs Way until it crosses the A286: there is a bus stop here, served by the same buses as Cocking, only a few minutes earlier. Better, though, to take the path slanting down to Cocking a kilometre earlier (see route map). Here the Bluebell Inn offers end of walk refreshments and is open all afternoon.

To get back from Cocking, you need to take bus number 60 north to Midhurst - 40 minutes past the hour until 18.40 - 14 minutes journey time. All buses have a ten minute connection at Midhurst to the number 70 (departing on the hour till 18.00, then 19.05), which then takes you to Haslemere station, a 25 minute journey.

Alternatively a joint taxi to Haslemere is not out of the question and may not be any more expensive. The walk document mentions a taxi firm that did an 8 seater taxi to Petersfield for £30, but does not give a phone number. If anyone knows more, please add a comment.

Trains back from Haslemere are at 02, 15, 32, and 39 past, the 02 and 32 being a bit faster.


Mike A said...

The Taxi company used was Paddy Cars t: 01730 263263 | 01730 262279
Journey Cost for a 4-seater was £20 last year but the diver said a 7-seater would cost the same. So yes, quite comparable with the Bus fare (unless you have a bus pass!)

Mike A said...

Oops! driver even - no he wasn't adorned with a snorkel

Anonymous said...

Keen to do this walk - anyone else?

Walker said...

Yes, I am

Mark Hodson said...

I'm joining this one. I'm in for taxi sharing. Pub or packed lunch?

Walker said...

N=20 on this walk, surprised to be greeted on disembarking at Petersfield by w=blazing-sunshine, which lasted till mid afternoon after which it clouded up. The walk down to Buriton was full of flowers and butterflies and the shade of trees was very welcome in the climb onto the downs.

This is a different kind of South Downs Way from the more familiar sections further east. Quite wooded and with big sections on tracks and lanes. The first half would actually make a good bluebell walk and it would not be a bad autumn colour outing either.

Once on the downs the group fragmented. At least four went to Uppark to see that National Trust site and I heard two managed to get a bus to Peterfield from there. The sandwich eaters stayed on the ridge while six of us descended to South Harting for lunch - two more were supposed to come but perhaps missed the turn-off. The White Hart in South Harting was friendly and had a nice garden but its mains were hideously expensive, so many of us opted for baguettes and chips. After lunch we found an homemade ice cream seller on Harting Down.

It then clouded up but the scenery in this mid section was wonderful - classic grassy downland, with lots of ups and downs and great views. After more woodland (and a fleeting glimpse of a rare white admiral butterfly) there was a long track section through flowery meadows and a beautiful descent to Cocking, perhaps the best scenery of the walk.

It was a shame to rush this last bit but the last bus from Cocking at 6,40pm loomed (actually there are later buses but they do not have connections to Haslemere). We were all set to take a taxi and have time for a longer drink but the publican said taxis were all booked to 9pm. So having at last got a really big pot of tea out of a pub I had to wolf it down (raising my oesophageal cancer risk another notch). The two buses, connecting in Midhurst, then got us efficiently back to Haslemere, though at £4.80 for the combined fare, I think a taxi would have been competitive in price had we been able to get one.

Walker said...

PS Some photos of this outing on the Saturday Walkers Club Facebook page (yes, we do have one)

Anonymous said...

Re Bus at Uppark National Trust: The bus 54 stops on the main road at 16:12 just outside the car entrance to the National Trust. The main road is about 5-10 mins walk (600m) through the woods from the ticket office of the National Trust. Fare costs £3.80 to Petersfield. You need to across the road (no bus stop sign) and stand opposite the bus stop for Petersfield to Chichester services. Stick your arm out with a smile when the bus comes.

Re Lunch at National Trust Cafe: You do need to buy a ticket (£10 if you are not a National Trust or Art Fund member) to access the cafe. However, there is a National Trust snack van parked by the ticket office, but probably not suitable if you need lunch.

sylvia said...

it was a walk full of beautiful wild flowers, added to which a pretty bird with a fluffy yellow head flew into the hedgerow ahead of us. I think it was a yellowhammer.

Anonymous said...

It was a yellowhammer, yes. There were loads of them singing all day too.