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.
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6 Responses to “Wandering: Pyecombe to Patcham”

  1. Simon HB (@norock) January 8, 2012 at 1:49 pm #

    You should find some time to explore Patcham – I grew up there, so I’m biased, but it’s worth a wander about…

    • John Gasson January 9, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

      Some some interesting buildings (Wooton House was one that caught my eye) and I am sure there are plenty of other hidden gems worth investigating. Usually all I see is the view from the bus window.

  2. Andrew Saunders January 9, 2012 at 8:50 am #

    I live in Patcham and that’s a very similar route that I follow when I go out running. Very nice route.

    • John Gasson January 9, 2012 at 10:19 pm #

      You are fortunate to have such lovely countryside on your doorstep or at least over the other side of the A27. An area I ought to explore further.

  3. Ian Gates January 9, 2012 at 12:24 pm #

    How I envy you, being able to make that journey across the Downs- the pictures reawakened many memories of happy times spent on Wolstonbury during childhood and beyond; the links remind us of how rich in history that small patch of England is, and though it may sound fanciful, I recall feeling as a child the presence of all those who were there before- Romans, Saxons, the Iron Age folk- when wandering around the remains of the hill fort. Wolstonbury (or simply ‘the Hill’, as my family in Hurst used to refer to it) was always a tangible presence when I was growing up, the setting for many a picnic in the 1950s, and the view across the Weald from the top still encapsulates for me the essence of Sussex, in all its diversity.

    • John Gasson January 9, 2012 at 10:24 pm #

      I often wonder how many of my ancestors also enjoyed the same views, so many of them lived, like you, within sight of Wolstonbury. For me my visit to Wolstonbury a couple of years ago awakened (or perhaps re-awakened) my love of the South Downs. For me Chanctonbury has always been the focal point, but the views from Wolstonbury are in my opinion far superior.

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