This was my first proper walk of the year, well actually our first proper walk of the year because I walked it with my friend Chris. The Worth Way is only seven miles in length and is mainly level, providing a gentle start to the year and an ideal warm-up for something more challenging.
The Worth Way follows the route of disused railway line from Three Bridges to East Grinstead (both in West Sussex). The railway was closed in 1967, along with so much of Britain’s rail network, a little over a 110 years after it was opened. This is the reason the path is mainly level and because it is also a cycle path the surface of the path is pretty good as well.
The route is pretty typical of a disused railway line, a fairly solid, mostly well drained surface and tree and bushes crowding in from the banks either side. One disadvantage of this type of path is that it largely obscures the views either side of the path, but it is not quite so bad this time of year when the trees and bushes have no leaves on them.
To be honest there wasn’t much in the way of views and only few points of interest along the route. The first place that stood out was Worth Church, which is just off the actual route. I was particularly intrigued by the height of the church walls, which look to be double the height of the normal church walls. I wonder what the story is behind those? I believe there are family connections with the parish of Worth which I need to get around to investigating eventually.
One of the most interesting things for me about walking disused railways is finding signs of its former use. On the Worth Way the most obvious example of this is Rowfant station, where the station buildings are still standing. Rowfant station was one of only two stations between Three Bridges and East Grinstead, the other was Grange Road station at Crawley Down, but no trace of that remains. Another railway feature still standing is the bridge below, which is quite an interesting design, which I would not really associate with a railway bridge.
All in all it was quite a good walk, not particularly taxing and probably better tackled in the spring or summer when there is more growth and colour and warmer, although the path was quite sheltered from the cold wind. The disused railway line continues another 9.5 miles from East Grinstead to Groombridge and is known as the Forest Way, which it would make sense for us to follow next time we go for a walk.