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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.

Blog Archive

Sunday, 21 April 2019

Sunday Walk - South Downs and Rother Valley: Amberley to Pulborough (with short options and some bluebell woods)

Length: 25.7 km (15.9 mi)
Ascent/Descent:  514/512 m
Net Walking Time: ca. 6 ½ hours
Toughness:  8 out of 10 
Length: 19.8 km (12.3 mi)
Ascent/Descent:  389/387 m
Net Walking Time: ca. 5 hours
Toughness:  6 out of 10 

For an afternoon shortcut: Bus line 1 (Midhurst – Worthing via Pulborough Station) calls  Fittleworth (15.57, 17.02, 18.12, 19.22, 19.52) and Stopham Bridge (3 mins later).

Take the 09.33 Portsmouth Harbour train from Victoria (09.40 Clapham J, 09.49 EC, 09.57 Coulsdon South!), arriving Amberley at 10.56.
Return trains from Pulborough: xx.04 (77 mins). Buy an Amberley Return.

The route follows the South Downs Way out of the scenic Arun Valley along some steep chalky tracks high up onto Bignor Hill for some magnificent views along the ridge, out to sea and across the West Weald. You leave the South Downs Way and pass Glatting Beacon with its transmission masts to then gradually descend from the ridge – not without a few short re-ascents up Farm Hill and Barlavington Down – past a few hanging woods into the Rother Valley. Pass the quaint setting of Duncton Mill and head for The Cricketers pub for lunch. Onwards you go through the magnificent Burton Park with its ponds, before you walk through several idyllic commons, part wooded, part sandy heathland, and eventually cross the Rother River and progress to Pulborough along a westerly route familiar from other walks, past the picturesque Stopham church and medieval bridge.

A shorter option descends steeply from Bignor Hill through hanging woods to the quiet villages of Bignor and Sutton (where the village pub has re-opened after a long hiatus and refurb).

Lunch: The Cricketers in Duncton (13.0 km/8.1 mi, food all day) on the main walk, or the re-opened The White Horse in Sutton  (9.6 km/5.9 mi, food to 19.00).
Tea: The Swan in Fittleworth (5.3 km/3.3 mi from the end, open all day) and The White Hart in Stopham (2.3 km/1.4 mi from the end, open all day)

For summary, walk directions, map, height profile, photos and gpx/kml files click here.  T=swc.39


Tony said...

As the lone short-cutter I think I should share my experiences. I enjoyed the company of my fellow walkers until we parted ways at Bignor Hill. A lovely day: bright sunshine, low humidity and a cool breeze. Plenty of interesting flora and fauna: I spotted a Greenfinch, a pair of Small Blue (or possibly Common Blue) and Brimstone butterfly's, and several spectacular patches of Bluebells.

Lunch at the re-opened White Horse Inn was delicious if expensive at just over £20 for two pints of soda & lime plus a modest asparagus quiche and a side of new potatoes. I enquired and was told that parties of two or more need to book and parties of six or more need to pre-order food.

Hoped to meet my fellow walkers at the end of the walk but alas not. I enjoyed a couple of bottled beers in the Chequers Hotel and some friendly conversation with the owner who was keen to confirm that he was happy to cater for groups of walkers wanting hot drinks or light meals.

Caught the 17:04 train back to London. A fine day out. Thanks to Thomas for posting.

Anonymous said...

The blue butterfly was a holly blue. It is too early for common blues and a small blue (June) is brown.

Andrew said...

@tony Thanks for the heads up about the checkers hotel - i've been to all the pubs round here too many time, nice to know of a new one. The other's were probably at the Stopham Bridge pub, it has a very pretty riverside setting. Just a bit far from the station.

Thomas G said...

Well, Mr. Andrew, the Webmaster...the Chequers Hotel is actually mentioned in the walk directions as a bona fide tea option (if a little off route). So much to learn, if you ever came on group walks...
Indeed, as Tony says, it was another day (3 in a row now) with perfect walking weather: sunny and warm but not hot, with low humidity and some breeze to keep cool. And all kinds of flora blooming or yellowing/greening up, including those sought after spring flowers, the dandies, anemones, celandines and bluebells. Then there were butterflies and birds, but I hardly know one from the other...
We stayed together to the highest point on Bignor Hill, where 1 turned right for the short walk (the old version of the walk). Barlavington Hanger provided pleasant amounts of bluebells in full attire, and a rather large patch of flowering wild garlic. From then on there seemed to be bluebells everywhere, though: on verges, in gardens, in wooded strips and in all the woods coming. I had posted this as having 'Some Bluebell Woods' but was hardly expecting this many.
The picnickers stopped at the very picturesque Duncton Mill for their break, as the lunch pub is on a busy road. And when the three lunchers got to the pub (13.40) we got told the dreaded "We are currently very busy and a pre-booked group of 20 has just arrived, so we are not taking any food orders just now. Please try again later." So we settled down with drinks and crisps/nuts at the one free table in the garden. Now, having frequented this pub many a times for walk recce and group walks, the weather had never been good enough to even look for a garden, never mind sit in it. But what a garden it is! Large and sloping and with well-spaced tables and all tables with their own wooden platform to stand on and views to the surrounding woods and a sombrilla each. Perfect! So we didn't mind at all. Eventually when the drinks neared empty state, we again enquired about food orders, and they were back on, so we got our orders in. And nice food it was. All in, 1 3/4 hours in the pub! Time well spent. The picnickers had moved on by now, of course.
Temperatures had dropped a bit, plenty more bluebells were on show, Burton Park and the little church and the ponds as magnificent as ever. The Warren was all bluebells. The notoriously muddy track leading to Sutton Common was dry and rock hard. At the Common we witnessed a training exercise for hunting dogs (a stop-watched retrieving trial through a pond and across the heath), as well as two blokes (it had to be blokes) practicing their drone racing techniques (and what an annoying sound tehy make; that's the drones...). More bluebells in Coates and Fittleworth Commons, then a small but stunning patch of the blue menace in Walter's Plantation, and Stopham Bridge and its pub were near. We could have raced it to catch the 18.04, but wisely chose the wooden terrace hanging over The Arun, some tea or water, and a wee thimble of the local wine (Stopham Pinot Gris, highly recommended). Then, completely unexpectedly, two of the picnickers turned up, as we had unknowingly overtaken them while they were on one of several involuntary detours. They tried to blame the walk directions, but hey...
19.04 train for 5, 18.04 for 1, 17.04 for the short walker. All had a great time.
n=7 w=sunny-and-pleasantly-warm