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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, 30 March 2019

Saturday Walk - Some remote westerly valleys of the South Downs: Rowlands Castle Circular

Length: 25.5 km (15.9 mi) [longer and shorter walks possible, see below]
Ascent/Descent:  488 m
Net Walking Time: ca. 6 hours
Toughness:  9 out of 10 

Take the 09.00 Portsmouth Harbour train from Waterloo (09.25 Woking), arriving Rowlands Castle at 10.21.
From Clapham take the 08.57 stopping service to Portsmouth and change at Woking (09.15/09.25).
The 10.00 train would be sufficient for the short walk.
Return trains: xx.48.

This demanding West Sussex walk in the undulating western part of the South Downs is characterised initially by a mixture of park- and woodland, then steep lonely valleys and some far views to the main South Downs Ridge.
It starts off towards Stansted House along a 1-mile-long beech avenue – one of the best in England according to Pevsner, and then heads north along the easterly edge of Stansted Forest and across fields via the hamlets of West, Up and East Marden to a very remote pub in Hooksway, with particularly nice views on the route between the hamlets, including up to the northern escarpment of the South Downs.
From lunch you climb back out of the secluded valley on a westerly route to Compton, from where another couple of hills need to be crossed to finish along the westerly edge of Stansted Forest back into Rowlands Castle, with its teashop and a choice of pubs.
The walk (especially the extended version) features several sustained, steep climbs and descents.

Walk Options:
A shortcut around lunch cuts 9.4 km and 307m ascent/descent (rated 4/10).
An extension after lunch adds 3.4 km and 162m ascent/descent. It follows a lonely, narrow, wood-fringed valley to the main northerly escarpment of the South Downs and then follows one of the most undulating sections of the South Downs Way with unrivalled far views from Pen Hill and Beacon Hill, making this a real challenge. The extended walk is rated 10/10.
All three routes share the start, up to West Marden, and the end, from Compton.
Bus Service 54  (Petersfield – Chichester) serves West Marden (the early lunch stop) and Compton (the late lunch/early tea stop), about every two hours, to late afternoon.

Lunch: The Victoria Inn in West Marden (6.3 km/3.9 mi, food to 14.30), The Royal Oak in Hooksway (12.6 km/7.9 mi, food to 14.00), The Coach & Horses  in Compton (8.7 km/5.4 mi on the short walk, food to 14.30).
Tea: The Village Shop & Tea Room in Compton (7.4 km/4.6 mi from the end, open to 17.00), plus three pubs and a café in Rowlands Castle; check page 2 of the walk directions pdf. 

For summary, walk directions, map, height profile, photos and gpx/kml files click here.  T=swc.68


Anonymous said...

Hi. Sounds great. Any train ticket advice. Thank you.

Thomas G said...

Well, it's a circular walk, so buy a return ticket to the start and finish station. Network Railcard is valid, no need to buy Advance tickets.

Anonymous said...

Hi guys hope to do the long walk and catching the 09.00 train. Weather should be spring like and sunny. See you guys for the 09.00 train. Not done this walk before and looking forward to it.


Anonymous said...

Will take 10am train and do shorter version of this walk. Train does't stop at CJ but Woking.

Thomas G said...

With plenty of past experience in missing buses, trains and planes, compromising numerous walks, matches, parties and holidays in the process, I invented a new one today: trusting the computer behind the PA system on a train more than my own walk posting! As when at Petersfield the announcement came "The next stop on this service will be Havant", in a split-second I got off the train, assuming I had mis-posted the travel arrangements and I needed to catch the stopping service from P'field (as - in fairness - was the case until a few timetable changes ago). Bad move.
The taxi fare was quoted as £25 to Rowlands and I didn't fancy an hour in a cafe, so I walked the morning bit of P'field - Rowlands Castle instead, to Chalton for lunch. Plenty of wild garlic, wood anemones, celandines, primroses about and even a fair amount of the bluebells already in bloom (bells open and all), 5-10% I'd say depending on the wood. The rape oil seed fields have also started to yellow up. Brilliant, shame I got a few hours less out of the walking day than planned!
After lunch I ventured across the valley to pick up the posted route at Horsley Farm near West Marden, en route exploring the intriguing church without a congregation that you can see from the train line. It's St. Hubert's, Idsworth, "The Little Church In The Field". Beautiful outside and in and with interesting murals. The settlement around it was wiped out by the Plague, apparently. Nice day, just not enough of it... 15.48 train

Anonymous said...

This virtual tour of St. Hubert's is excellent. You can see inside and out

Karen said...

n=13 w=glorious

12 off the train at Rowlands Castle. A bit of wondering about where the walk poster might be (turned out he had found an alternative start to the Rowlands Castle Circular at Petersfield) and off we set. It was not long before people were shedding extra layers as the day felt much warmer than anyone had anticipated. Lots of spring flora - all the other flowers I haven't yet learned the names of. But lots of them! Even a few bluebells. A lovely morning through undulating countryside, wooded areas and past picturesque cottages.

Just 4, I think, lunched at the pub, while the rest had their sandwiches nearby. A popular place on a sunny day, the garden was quite busy.

After lunch, 9 set off on the main walk leaving 3 to do the extension. We got a little mixed up a couple of times in the Edgar Plantation portion of the route, but eventually got back on track. As a result of having to retrace our steps at one point, we were treated to the sight of two deer bounding across the path in front of us. We stopped for a break at the Village Shop and Tea Room in Compton and ran into a late starter who had taken the shorter route. She joined us for the rest of the walk into Rowlands Castle. With time to spare before the next train, some took to the benches on the village green and others had a wander to check out the village offerings. Headed to the station for the 17:48 train and were joined not long after by the extensioners.

A great walk in a beautiful area and in perfect weather.

Anonymous said...

Numbers update - n=14

Sandy said...

Another small addendum if it's not too late - 4 of us actually did the extension. Service in the pub was friendly and efficient, where they kept a jug of water topped up on the bar for much needed water refills, and it was very nice out in the garden where there were a couple of tables of SWCers at various times. The extension group dropped into the Castle (quite busy with locals and their dogs round the bar) for a swift half before the train.