The High Weald Landscape Trail is a 90 mile route that runs from Horsham in West Sussex to Rye in East Sussex. The High Weald is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and according to the High Weald AONB website its key features are “its rolling hills, scattered farmsteads, small woodlands, irregular-shaped fields, open heaths and ancient routeways”.
It has been a long time since I walked a section of the HWLT, it was back at the end of April when my friend Chris and I started on the first section of this route, but finally we were back today to continue the walk.
Bolney is not the easiest of places to get to by public transport, for me it involved a bus ride, a train ride and another rather bumpy bus ride. Today’s walk got off to an inauspicious start at side of the old London to Brighton road, but we soon passed under the current London to Brighton road and into woodland, although we never really did get away from the noise of the traffic.
In a large proportion of today’s walk was in woodland and to be honest it wasn’t particularly inspiring. Perhaps if we had been a week earlier then there would have been more leaves on the trees it would have been more appealing, but as it was the walk soon became a little tedious. There path was varied, sometimes along the side of the wood, sometimes through the middle of a wood, sometimes along a road surrounded by woodland but there were few sections where we were actually out in the open.
Things did improve once we got nearer Cuckfield. The landscape did begin to open up a little bit and we were able to see the South Downs in the distance, admittedly it was only the outline of the South Downs, as it was still a bit hazy in the distance.
Without doubt the best part of walk was the village of Cuckfield itself. Of course I am biased because there are family connections with the parish, and it gives its name to the Civil Registration District in which so many of the births, marriages and deaths in my family tree occurred. I don’t think I have ever spent much time in Cuckfield (and we didn’t really spend that long today), but I have passed through on occasion and I now know that I will undoubtedly have to return in the future.
We found time to visit the church (which was open and had a display of “church treasures”) and the churchyard, then after a quick wander around the streets we popped into Cuckfield Museum. I knew Cuckfield had a museum but hadn’t realised what a treasure trove it was, along with the expected displays on aspects of local history they also have a small resource centre for family and local history. I resisted the urge to take a folder of the shelf and pull up a chair.
I need to get myself better organised for my next visit, well actually not my next visit because that will be to continue the walk but the time after that, so that I can spend some quality time immersed in some family history research.
Copyright © 2011 John Gasson.
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