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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

Saturday, 18 May 2019

Saturday walk - Burgess Hill to Hassocks - Buttercup fields and the South Downs

Length: 27.8km (16.8 miles) for the whole walk, but shorter options from 13.4km (8.4 miles) to 20.2km (12.6 miles)

Toughness: 8 out of 10 T=3.108

 9.55 train from Victoria (10.02 Clapham Junction, 10.11 East Croydon) to Burgess Hill, arriving 10.46.

You could also get the 9.20 Thameslink service from St Pancras International (9.35 London Bridge, 9.49 East Croydon) to Burgess Hill, arriving 10.30, If you take this train and return on the 36 past train from Hassocks you could buy a cheaper Thameslink-only ticket. 

Buy a day return to Hassocks

For walk directions click here. For a GPX file click here. For a map of the route click here.

Unlike most South Downs walks this one starts some way to the north of them, so you spend the first four miles gradually approaching the escarpment you are to climb. In the past this section of the walk has been one long series of butterfly meadows, so let's hope they are still there.

After the pretty village of Ditchling, with possible early lunch stops, there is the climb onto the downs, the best place in the world to be on a fine day..... (The dots are meant to indicate the vagaries of the English weather.) The downland section culminates on the fine summit of Wolstonbury Hill, with magnificent views, and there is then a descent to Hurstpierpoint (another pretty village and a possible tea stop), with a further loop to finish.

There are various ways to shorten the walk:

 - Have an early lunch in one of the pubs or tea rooms in Ditchling, four miles onto the walk, and then once on the downs depart from the walk route and follow the South Downs Way to the Jack and Jill windmills. Descend the downs from there to the village of Clayton and follow a path alongside the railway line to Hassocks. This is a 13.4km (8.3 mile) walk from Burgess Hill. Once up on the downs you are off the walk route but you could probably follow this route pretty easily even without a map.

 - Alternatively, continuing on the walk to the Plough in Pyecombe (the recommended lunch stop for the main walk, or a possible tea stop for those who have lunched in Ditchling), and then carrying on to Wolstonbury Hill, you could reverse the start of the Hassocks to Upper Beeding walk to Hassocks. This makes a total walk of 18.8km (11.7 miles).

 - Or continue with the walk route to the pleasant village of Hurstpierpoint, 20.2km (12.6 miles) from the start of the walk. From the war memorial in this village you can get bus no 273 at 3.56pm or 6.06pm to Hassocks station. It is otherwise a 2.7km (1.7 mile) walk down the road from Hurstpierpoint to Hassocks (40 minutes or so) and there are some paths that would take you off the road if you have a map. Hurstpierpoint has pubs.

Trains back from Hassocks are at 11 and 41 past the hour to Victoria or 36 past to London Bridge or St Pancras (1 hr to London Bridge, versus 54 minutes for the Victoria train, so not a huge difference).

1 comment:

Walker said...

N=15 on this walk including two newcomers who we hope enjoyed their day. The weather was disappointingly cloudy at first but cleared from the coast at lunchtime to w=hot-sun-in-the-afternoon. We had a pleasant walk at this loveliest time of the year - what walk does not look beautiful in mid May? - but in truth I was a bit disappointed with the buttercups, which, though by no means lacking, were more intense in previous years. A large free-range chicken farm, whose inhabitants truly get to peck around in the long grass and bushes, and who serenaded us as we walked by, made up for the disappointment, as did a posse of swifts screeching over Ditchling.

No one opted for an early lunch in Ditchling as far as I know and we stayed together as a group on the very lovely climb up onto the downs. (Yellowhammers were singing at the top). We arrived after 2pm at the Plough in Pyecombe but had no trouble getting served. Nice food and generous portions, with a big and varied menu.

During lunch a sandwich contingent left us: what they did later, I do not know. Two more parted from us before the climb up to Wolstonbury Hill to take a direct route to Hassocks and social lives.

That left six (?) of us to carry on to Hurstpierpoint. Three baulked at the very steep descent from Wolstonbury Hill chosen by the walk author and tried to find a gentler way. This proved promising at first but later involved an awkward descent through a wood - a maze of paths indicating the increasing desperation of others who had attempted the same route. But we gained the flatlands at last and did a little short cut to catch up with the rest of the group.

After a lovely garden tea/drink at the New Inn in Hurstpierpoint, house martins swooping overheard, we set off sometime after six for the last loop up past Hurstpierpoint College and back to Hassocks. After one more drink at the pub by the station, we caught 20.11 and 20.36 trains home, satisfied we had made good use of the daylight hours.