Tag Archives: windmill

Wandering: Pyecombe to Patcham

7 Jan

I decided to take advantage of the dry, bright and unseasonably warm weather and get out for a walk. I have already said that I want to keep my walks more local and more convenient this year, and today’s walk was an excellent example of this because it was essentially a walk from one bus stop to the next.

It would have taken less than ten minutes on the bus, but because of the rather circuitous route I took it was more like four hours, partly because of the frequent stops I made to take photos and the necessity of having to carefully pick my way along some rather muddy paths.

The route was from Pyecombe in West Sussex to Patcham in East Sussex (actually on the outskirts of the City of Brighton and Hove), by way of Wolstonbury Hill, Clayton, the Clayton Windmills (Jack and Jill), a short section of the South Downs Way, part of the Sussex Border Path and the Chattri Indian War Memorial.

Looking south-west from Wolstonbury Hill

This was only the second time that I have been up Wolstonbury Hill, but like so many of the hills along the South Downs it has held my attention since the first time, and I have been meaning to pay it a visit ever since. Last time I was there it was a hot June day, and whilst today was not exactly cold, visiting on a winter’s day certainly shows the hill in a different light, quite literally.

From Wolstonbury Hill dropped down to the village of Clayton, famous for its railway tunnel on the main London to Brighton railway. There are not a lot of buildings in Clayton, but there is a delightful little church, sitting at the foot of the hill.

Clayton Church from the south

My next destination was the top of the hill, home to the two Clayton Windmills Jack and Jill.  Jack was looking very much worse for wear, it is in private hands and currently up for sale if you fancy living in a historic windmill. Jill is in safer hands and was looking absolutely stunning in the bright sunshine.

Jill windmill, Clayton

From the windmills I headed south by way of the South Downs Way, then skirting round Pyecombe Golf Course before joining the Sussex Border Path which leads on to Patcham past the Chattri Indian War Memorial. This was the main reason for my walk today, it has been on my list of places to visit for years, but I never quite got around to visiting.

Chattri Indian War Memorial, Patcham

The history of the Chattri is well documented and it is a truly fitting memorial in a superb setting and it good to see it is well looked after and it actually looks like it is quite a popular destination for visitors judging by the number of people I passed on the way. There is an element of pilgrimage involved in visiting as there is no vehicle access to the memorial and the nearest car park is about a mile and a quarter away.

So that lead me down to the village of Patcham, a place I have passed through many times on the bus into Brighton, but never stopped to explore. I didn’t really do much exploring this time, but there were some quite nice cottages and a few shops. The approach to Patcham was not particularly nice having left the tranquility of the Downs one has to cross over the busy A27 Brighton-by-pass (fortunately there is a footbridge) and pass behind the back gardens of several houses, with their accompanying overspill of garden and household waste.

Overall though this was a great start to 2012, a nice gentle walk over the Downs (about seven and a half miles), lots of interest along the way, and only a couple of paths were the mud was a problem, which considering it is early January was quite fortunate.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License
.

Another day spent walking

28 Jun

This Saturday I spent most of the day walking again, but this time there were no genealogical connections. Also for a change it was Surrey not Sussex where I was walking, it wasn’t a route of my choice and I wasn’t on my own.

My good friend Chris had picked the route and was my walking partner for the day. The weather was perhaps a little too warm, although there was some cloud, but it stayed dry, which it has been more or less for several weeks.

The walk began at Dorking railway station, we followed the A24 north for short while before heading east out onto the hills. Before climbing Box Hill we had to cross the river, there is a footbridge but I never miss the opportunity to cross the river by the stepping stones. It occurred to me that these were the only stepping stones in Sussex or Surrey that I was aware of, but I am sure there must be other examples.

Stepping stones at the foot of Box Hill

Stepping stones at the foot of Box Hill, Surrey

The climb up Box Hill is quite a challenge, it is not as high as Wolstonbury Hill which I climbed nearly two weeks ago, but the ascent is a lot steeper. Most of the path up the hill consists of steps, otherwise it would seem almost impossible to reach the top.

The views from the top of Box Hill are quite spectacular, and well worth the effort. Unfortunately there was still some mist in the distance, but closer to the hill places like Dorking were clearly visible.

Dorking from Box Hill, with trig point as well

Dorking from Box Hill, with a trig point as well

From Box Hill the walk continued eastwards and eventually southwards down off the North Downs, towards the village of Brockham. From here we walked east again, to Betchworth (where we stopped at the pub from a drink and a bite to eat).

I was quite impressed by the church at Betchworth, such a beautiful building, I hope I can find an excuse to come back and spend some more time here.

St. Michael's Church, Betchworth, Surrey

St. Michael's Church, Betchworth, Surrey

From Betchworth we continued east again, across the tip of Reigate Heath and the golf course (past the windmill) and onto a seemingly tiny place called Skimmington (with a busy pub).

The windmill on Reigate Heath

The windmill on Reigate Heath

From here we continued, yes you guessed it, eastwards again. Up onto Reigate Park and then down through the streets (of Reigate I guess) towards Earlswood railway station, where we spent a rather dull hour waiting, having just missed the train. To keep myself amused I ending up taking photos of the clouds overhead.

Clouds over Earlswood

Clouds over Earlswood

All in all it was a very satisfying walk. From Dorking to Earlswood was about 11½ miles, the majority of which was flat after coming down off the hills. Perhaps the best part for me however was the fact that it was all pretty much new territory to me (after coming down of the hills) so I actually had to use my map reading skills on occasion!

Sussex Day 2009: Part 10 – Wolstonbury Hill to Hassocks

26 Jun

Having reached the top of Wolstonbury Hill the rest of my Sussex Day walk could only be downhill.

I considered the best way home, I could go west and down to Newtimber and Poynings and catch the bus. However that would have meant crossing the busy A23 which I wasn’t keen to do.

So instead I headed east, a path lead south a short way from the top of the hill and joined an east-west path which slowly descended towards Clayton. About half a mile along the path, another path lead north, into some shade and continued downhill and eventually out onto New Way Lane.

About a quarter of a mile east was the village of Clayton, there were only two things I knew about Clayton, the railway tunnel and the twin windmills of Jack and Jill. I discovered there was also a lovely little church with some quite stunning wall paintings, and a splendid graveyard with wonderful views of the South Downs, in fact it was almost on the Downs.

A path lead north from Clayton along the side of the railway line for about a mile, straight to Hassocks railway station, not surprising really considering it was following the railway line. It was just after four o’clock when I arrived at Hassocks railway station, just enough time to visit the local newsagents to buy some more drink, before catching a train to Brighton and a bus home.

Sussex Day 2009: Part 9 – Hurstpierpoint Cemetery to Wolstonbury Hill

25 Jun

When I left Hurstpierpoint Cemetery I didn’t really where I was heading. I knew that I was ultimately going to end up at Hassocks railway station, so I could get home, but I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to get there.

The shortest and quickest route would have been to head east out of Hurstpierpoint on the main road, but I wanted to be out in the countryside, so I decided to follow a path just north of the cemetery. Besides it was still early afternoon, far too early to be heading home!

When the path got clear of the houses to the south the views opened up to the South Downs and there looming up in front of me was Wolstonbury Hill, just begging to be climbed.

The walk so far had been pretty flat, Hurstpierpoint Cemetery was really the last genealogical connection, so now it was time to put the family history to one side and to personally challenge myself with a climb up the hill.

It was a nice gentle route to the foot of the Downs, past the magnificent Danny House (currently a retirement home). All the time Wolstonbury Hill getting closer and seeming more and more unclimbable. I reached New Way Lane and approached the foot of the hill, there was no turning back now.

No turning back maybe, but no way forward either! The footpath was blocked, closed to allow repair work, for six months, how could the West Sussex County Council do this to me? Here I was ready to ascend Wolstonbury Hill and they had closed the path!

Of course there was more than one route up to the top, only the northern and western sides were closed, I continued east along the lane and found another path heading south, before long it started to climb and I knew I was on the right path. The path was well shaded, but not particularly smooth, not far up the hill I came to a junction of paths and I wasn’t entirely sure where I was, eastward seemed to take me out into the open and back downhill again, that was no good, so after consulting the map I pressed on south again up further.

A short distance further I came to a gateway that opened out onto the side of the hill, and I could see the path leading right to the top. This was it, after another application of suncream (and a mouthful of drink) I headed out into the blazing sun and launched myself up the hill.

That last section was one of the most exhilarating climbs of my life, the sun was hot, there was little breeze, my leg muscles were complaining, but I was all alone, not another soul in sight, enjoying the beautiful Sussex landscape that emerged once I had cleared the trees.

It felt fantastic to be pushing myself to climb this hill, I had never witnessed the views from the top before, but I am sure many of my ancestors had before me. It had been a struggle but the reward was well worth it. It was a clear day, a little bit hazy in the distance but that didn’t matter, and I could see for miles in all directions. I wandered around the earthworks at the top of the hill, visited the trig point and just savoured the moment. There was a slight breeze here, but little shelter apart from a few gorse bushes. I found some shade and sat down, quenching my thirst with more drink and applying more suncream.

I sat and admired the view, it was breathtaking. It didn’t matter that I didn’t know what half of the places were, what mattered was that it was Sussex, my Sussex, my ancestors Sussex. I could think of no better place to be on Sussex Day. The sense of achievement was tremendous, I felt physically and emotionally that I was on top of the world.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 117 other followers

%d bloggers like this: