Tag Archives: west sussex

Longing to return to the hills again

25 May

I know the time has come once again. Sub-consciously I have begun taking guide books to the South Downs Way off my bookshelf and reading the odd snippet here and there.

Every morning on my bus journey to work I gaze increasingly longingly at the ridge of the South Downs. This morning it wasn’t there, hidden in mist that will no doubt burn off in an hour or two, but by then I will be miles away, with only the clock to gaze longingly at.

It looks increasingly like that my plans to take a week off work this year and walk the SDW are going to have to wait another year. Barring a huge win on the lottery or an unexpected redundancy it doesn’t look like I am going to have the time to do it this year.

This was going to be my challenge this year, but this has been pushed out by London 2012 Olympics and the challenge to remain interested in whatever sporting activity I am watching, despite the crowds and exorbitant prices.

Somehow I am going to have to find some time to walk the SDW this year, having walked it the last two years I want to try to keep the momentum going but it is looking increasingly difficult this year.

I have even contemplated walking it at night, I mean just how much sleep do I really need? Couldn’t I catch up on sleep during the week and spend Friday and Saturday nights on the hills. Probably not, but that is a sign of how desperate I am becoming.

I need to keep reminding myself that it isn’t even June yet and there are probably another five or six months of decent walking weather ahead of me and I only need eight or nine days out of those five or six months.

Looked at like that it doesn’t sound quite such a tall order, but I need to get out and start getting a few more longer walks under my belt, I have really done very little this year so far. I would have started this week, but it has been insanely hot this week, maybe next week will be better.

Keymer Post, South Downs Way (25th May 2010)

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Wordless Wednesday: Waiting in the shadows

23 May

Waiting in the shadows: Henfield Church, West Sussex (13th April 2009)

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Walk to Work Week: Horley to Gatwick Airport

17 May

The 14th to 18th May 2012 is Walk to Work Week in the UK and although I would love to walk all the way to work it would probably take me six or seven hours so that is not really practical. This evening I seized the opportunity to make the start of my journey home on foot.

It wasn’t a particularly long walk, possibly 1½ miles at a stretch, but it was different from my usual route (the one I walked on Monday) and I have to confess once I had got beyond the rows of houses it was quite pleasant.

The streets of Horley, Surrey

From Horley town centre the first three-quarters of a mile were along residential streets. Although I had studied the map previously it was an unfamiliar route and I mentally laid myself a trail of breadcrumbs so that I could retrace my steps if needed. It wasn’t particularly inspiring walking, but I have walked along worse streets.

Entrance to Riverside Garden Park

My reason for taking this route was to take a look at Riverside Garden Park. This seems to be one of the few green spaces in Horley, not particularly large, but supposedly a remnant of the old Horley Common. An interesting survivor, sandwiched between the residential streets of Horley and the sprawling Gatwick Airport.

The entrance to Riverside Garden Park is not particularly inspiring, there is a useful noticeboard with a map of the park and a little bit of history. However once over the bridge and into the park things improve dramatically. The park is also part of two longer walks, a Millennium Trail (18 miles) and the East Horley Circular Walk (5.8 miles).

Path through Riverside Garden Park

I took the path heading towards the airport, I am not sure where the other paths go (that is an exploration for another day) but it is a very pleasant walk, following the course of the Gatwick Stream, the river which gives the park its name.

Pond in Riverside Garden Park

There are some nice mature trees and a lovely pond (with geese, ducks and a heron), it seemed to be relatively free from litter but not too neatly manicured. It wasn’t quite possible to forget the presence of the airport and the busy (and elevated) main road running along the south-western edge of the park, but it wasn’t as intrusive as I had imagined it would be.

Underpass to Gatwick Airport

All too quickly I was heading down the narrow underpass (which is a little daunting because it is shared with a cycle path) leading under the A23 and into the concrete and car parks of Gatwick Airport.

In Riverside Garden Park I think I might have inadvertently stumbled on the nicest part of Horley and a much nicer alternative to my usual route between the airport and Horley town centre. It is a little longer, but if time is not an issue then it seems a much better route.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Walk to Work Week: Gatwick Airport to Horley

14 May

The 14th to 18th May 2012 is Walk to Work Week in the UK and although I would love to walk all the way to work it would probably take me six or seven hours so that is not really practical. However I did my bit this morning by getting off the train one station early and walking the last bit.

I have to admit that this a route I regularly take when the weather is good and time permits. It is not a particularly long walk (only about 1¼ miles) and not particularly exciting or picturesque, but on a bright sunny day like this morning it a great way to start the day.

To me there is something a bit strange about starting a walk in Gatwick Airport, it is a great place to start a journey, but few people will be making that journey on foot like me. Getting out of the airport building can be a bit challenging if you are not sure where you are going.

I have to admit that descending the unmarked stairs at shuttle terminal always makes me feel a little uneasy, it feels a little like I am going behind the scenes, perhaps somewhere I shouldn’t be going. As passengers wait for the shuttle above I emerge out into a world of concrete and car parks as the shuttle rumbles overhead.

Gatwick Stream

Amongst the concrete however there is one rather unexpected glimpse of nature, a stream carefully funnelled through the grounds of the airport, surprisingly clean although that may just be an indication that a large volume of water has passed through here in the last few weeks, washing any accumulation of rubbish further downstream.

To the mix of concrete and car parks you can also add chain link. For about a third of a mile the path is enclosed by two tall chain link fences. To the west the car parks, to the east the railway line. Surprisingly this path is part of the Sussex Border Path, probably its least glamorous section, but for those tracing the Sussex border relief from the concrete and chain link is not far away across the other side of the railway.

Approaching the West Sussex/Surrey border

For those with an interest in boundaries, passing under the bridge carrying the A23 over the railway line takes you from the county of West Sussex and into Surrey. Not surprisingly there are no signs marking this transition, only lines on a map, however hardly a day goes past without me noticing the crossing.

Horley and the Gatwick Express

The end of the chain link fences marks a watershed, those following the border path head east over the railway footbridge. Those like me heading for Horley turn east and then north and chain link is replaced by wooden garden fences and residential streets. In the far distance, on a clear day, one gets a glimpse of the North Downs in the gaps between the houses, but really the only interest now is the contents of people’s recycling baskets along the side of the pavement.

Above the pavements however there is something else which catches my eye, an unlikely point of interest among these residential streets. A simple but for some reason unexpectedly pleasing wooden finial upon the top of a telegraph pole. This example was not unique, I counted three today, but they must count as a rarity these days.

Telegraph pole

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Wordless Wednesday: St. Mary’s Church, Horsham, West Sussex

9 May

St. Mary’s Church, Horsham, West Sussex (9th May 2012)

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