Tag Archives: walk

Sussex Day 2012: Part 1 – One of my favourite bus stops

18 Jun

Sussex Day 2012

I knew I had to take the opportunity presented by Sussex Day to get out onto the South Downs, but when I set off I hadn’t really decided where to go.

I was on the bus heading to Brighton, which narrowed down the range of options, but still with another bus and/or train ride I could pretty much be anywhere in Sussex. Not only that but if I got the right bus I could even be on top of the Downs with minimal effort, but what would be the fun in that.

The South Downs didn’t look terribly inviting it has to be said. The weather was overcast, it looked and felt like there could be rain any minute, even though the forecast said it would stay dry. I could see the odd break in the cloud, but even as we got nearer the Downs remained hazy and indistinct, not the crisp clearness that I had longed for.

As the bus headed towards Brighton I formulated a plan, I would get off before Brighton near the village of Poynings, by the roundabout, and make my way along the foot of the hills and then when the time was right I could ascend the hills and continue along the ridge.

This would not only give me a different view of the hills, getting up close to the northern face of the hills that I normally only see from a distance, but would also give me the opportunity to have a quick look around some of the villages that lay at the foot of the hills.

As I stepped off the packed bus at Poynings, leaving the shoppers to continue their journey to Brighton, I stood and admired the Downs. The bus stop is well within the boundaries of the South Downs National Park, and practically on the foot of the hills. It is the closeness to the hills that makes this one of my favourite bus stops.

One of my favourite bus stops

In the background of picture above is Newtimber Hill. To the left, albeit some way off, is my old favourite Wolstonbury Hill. To the right is Devil’s Dyke and the range of hills stretching all the way out to the west and Chanctonbury Hill with its distinctive crown of trees.

I will be the first to admit that the bus shelter may not be much to look at, but for me it represents an important gateway to the South Downs and the start of my Sussex Day walk.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Flying the flag for Sussex Day 2012

16 Jun

The Argus (Brighton’s local newspaper) was right when they said that Sussex Day had failed to capture the imagination.

It was also right about the lack of events taking place today to mark the occasion, but that is really nothing new. At the present rate it seems likely that the idea of Sussex Day will be all but forgotten in a couple of years time.

I marked Sussex Day in my usual way, by going for a walk. I had many options for where to walk, the weather wasn’t very promising and I am really out of practice for any long distance walking, but all in all it turned out to be a memorable walk, which I will tell you more about later.

Sussex Day wasn’t completely forgotten, it was good to see at least one village flying the flag for Sussex, although I suspect if they hadn’t already put up the flagpole for the Diamond Jubilee they wouldn’t have bothered.

Flying the Flag for Sussex Day 2012

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Wandering: Box Hill, Surrey

14 Jun

The recent extended Diamond Jubilee Bank Holiday weekend gave my friend Chris and I chance to get out for a walk, unfortunately the less than ideal weather conditions meant that it was only going to be a brief walk.

Short of time we decided to head to Box Hill near the town of Dorking, Surrey. Box Hill is just a short train ride from Horsham and situated on the North Downs. If we didn’t have time to get out onto the South Downs then the North Downs would have to do.

Box Hill is also going to be playing its part in the London Olympics. It is hosting part of the cycling road race (both the womens and mens races) and we were interested to see how preparations were going. The cyclists will be racing up and down Box Hill as part of the road race before heading back into London from whence they came.

They will no doubt appreciate the newly re-surfaced road, but the freshly erected signs will probably be no more than a blur as they whizz past, on the way from Dorking to the top of the hill.

Apart from the new road surface and signs there didn’t seem to be a great deal to indicate that the Olympics were coming. There has been a bit of clearance along the roadside, where spectators will be crowded, but apart from that you could be forgiven for not noticing the approaching furore.

Of course the cyclists will not have time to enjoy the view from the top of Box Hill over the town of Dorking, Surrey. A view made all the better for the presence of a trig point. Nor will they have to experience the steep and slightly treacherous descent down the side of the hill, which was nice and slippery after the recent rainfall. Unfortunately that all means they will miss the joy of having to pick their way across the River Mole on the concrete stepping-stones.

The closest railway station is Box Hill and Westhumble, Westhumble is the village to west of the railway line and Box Hill is east of the station. It is a delightful little station which although short on facilities has quite a reasonable service. It’s survival is probably down to its role as a gateway to the North Downs.

When we visited it was receiving the attention of railworkers, who were busy excavating the southern end of the station, presumably to enable extension of the platforms in anticipation of the increase in traffic that the Olympics will bring.

In a fitting tribute to forthcoming Olympic games the workers were taking part in a their own relay. Taking it in turns to push wheelbarrows full of stones and soil along the length of the platform the skip waiting outside the station.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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A Visit to Goreland Farm

4 Jan

I took the opportunity of a dry (but overcast) New Year’s Day to pay a quick visit to Goreland Farm, West Grinstead, Sussex.

As I mentioned in my Ancestral Profile posts on my 4x great-grandparents John FAIRS and Eliza WORSFOLD nothing remains of their home at Goreland Farm. Actually that is not quite true, as you can see from the photo below there are still traces of the buildings in the form of pieces of brick and other building debris, darkened soil and a depression in the level of the field.

There is a footpath that passes over the site of Goreland Farm, but the conditions underfoot were so wet and muddy that it wasn’t long before I turned around and headed back the way I came.

Fortunately there is a country lane which runs close by the site of Goreland Farm, which provides a drier path to the nearest village  a couple of miles away.

Looking on old-maps.co.uk (search co-ordinates: 517095, 118205) it looks like Goreland Farm was demolished/fell down in the 1950s, long after my FAIRS family had moved on. It would be nice to find out more about Goreland Farm and perhaps find a photograph/postcard of it, even though my ancestors were only there for a short time.

Unplugged: Capital Ring – Plaistow to Woolwich [THE END]

11 Dec

It was a slightly warmer day than a fortnight ago when my friend Chris and I walked the previous section of the Capital Ring in London. Today we continued from where we left off at Plaistow on the Greenway (which you might remember follows the route of the Northern Outfall Sewer).

The Greenway is nice and flat and makes for quite easy walking, but unlike the previous section there was not much to see along this section, really just houses, a cemetery and a hospital. The only thing that broke it up were frequent road crossings and gateways like the one above.

Eventually the route broke off from Greenway and passed through a string of parks (seemingly known collectively as Beckton District Park). This at least broke some of the monotony, but they weren’t particularly attractive or appealing under grey cloudy skies, although we did meet a group of geese out for a walk.

Having passed through a residential area we then arrived at the modern buildings of the University of East London on the banks of the Royal Albert Dock. Across the water was London City Airport and beyond that the King George V Dock. The only boats moving on the water today were rowing boats and in the sky above were a surprisingly small number of planes arriving at the airport.

The path cuts through another residential area to take us out to the banks of the River Thames with just the river separating us from the finish point on the south side. The official route uses the Woolwich Foot Tunnel to cross under the river, but this is closed for rebuilding work until March 2011 so we had to take the Woolwich Free Ferry across the Thames instead.

I have never used the foot tunnel before, so I was a little disappointed not to be able to walk under the Thames, but I don’t recall ever using the ferry before either so that was a new experience for me as well, although admittedly not that exciting.

The start and finish point of the Capital Ring is the southern entrance to the foot tunnel and it was somewhat of an anti-climax in the end to arrive and find it surrounded by hoardings, but at least we made it round.

So, that completes the 78 miles of the Capital Ring around London (actually I am not sure about the accuracy of some of the mileage, but it doesn’t really matter). For the most part it has been an enjoyable walk, there were some parts of the route where I felt less than comfortable and was glad to keep moving and there were places where I could have lingered for longer, and will possibly re-visit at some stage.

It has been quite varied, not many hills, but a pleasing amount of woodland and parks, although many of those parks were really playing fields and not proper parkland (like Richmond Park). There was usually something of historical interest for me to see and many of these sights would warrant closer examination (we never really had time to linger for long). Of course there was also plenty of modern features to admire (like the Olympic Stadium) or cast scorn upon. Really everything you would expect from the City of London.

Thoughts now turn to the next route for the new year, I am currently considering the High Weald Landscape Trail, 94 miles from Horsham, West Sussex to Rye, East Sussex. Being more rural might mean waiting for a few months for the ground to dry up a bit. We also still have the North Downs Way to finish, but that is for the summer when the days are longer and we can spend more time walking.

I also want to try to get in some more family history themed walks next year. There are lots of places in Sussex (and beyond) that I want to visit, with houses and churches to photograph and generally get a feel for some ancestral landscapes. I also intend to walk the South Downs Way next year, this time all in one go, or rather all in one week, rather than spread out over several weeks.

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