We agreed to meet at 12.00 just in case the rain had stopped. Sadly it hadn't. The route was going to be in some previously damp gulleys, so the morning walk was abandoned and we were forced to take shelter in the nearby Three Horsehoes public house. The possibility of a short walk in the afternoon was mooted, but the rain once again beat us. However the 13th March walk has unexpectantly needed filling (careful examination of the group photo attached may explain why), so Thursley is where we should be again, weather permitting!
Lindsay and Jay proposed a dry 9 mile walk from The Slip car park across the Broadway from Stansted Park. The five of us skipped nimbly around the ponds in the car park, entering Stansted Park main drive up past the house on Monarch’s Way encountering horse riders, dog walkers and a particularly unpleasant smelling slurry tanker. A mislaid camera recovery slowed the pace and we decided we liked that pace as we wandered down Woodlands Lane on the road before turning north at the base of Watergate Hanger. When we were opposite the drive to Watergate House we scampered up the hanger staying in the woods, stopping for coffee and long tales before walking on to Oldhouse Lane where we enjoyed a down hill section of road. At the base of the Hanger we turned north again into woods heading towards West Marden. At this point we had been ambling gently too much which necessitated a change in plan, especially after stopping to watch the Highland cows so we adjourned to the Victoria Inn where they did us proud for lunch. After lunch, the pace slowed further to aid digestion as we headed up the road into Westmarden Copse across fields, over Oldhouse Lane to the edge of the woods at Wythy Piece. At this juncture a voting process worthy of the Russian Duma elected to take a shortcut that had not been prewalked and rewarded us with a very muddy footpath all the way back to the drive at Stansted Park. Stomping of boots failed to dislodge the mud clinging to boots and clothes as we retraced the start of the walk back to the car park. The walk was reduced to just over 7 miles thanks to Lindsay and Jay’s excellent map reading skills.
The 4.75 mile Valentine Day walk started in the rain at Plaistow’s green led by Linda and Pauline. We squelched across the green and The Street onto Rumbolds Lane down to the farm where we headed west over the fields. Cutting across the corner of Red Copse and over another field brought us to Swear Farm and then into Roundwick Copse where some sawn tree trunks provided rest for an early coffee break. After the break we stayed on the muddy track into Roundwyck Copse, crossed a stream and fields to skirt round Roundwyck House to Upper Frithfold Farm and onto Pipers Lane where we turned north. We left the road onto the bridle path which we stayed on until almost reaching the outskirts of Plaistow where we headed east over the fields back to Rumbolds Lane and then back to the green. Peeling off our wet walking gear and dumping it in the cars we made our way down to The Stag at Balls Cross for our lunch in the warmth.
Eight of us were lead by Isabel on a 4.9 mile walk starting at the car park in Eartham Wood. We were soon on Stane Street, the old Roman road and Monarch’s Way trail, marching in Roman fashion we headed in a straight line all the way through Eartham Wood. On reaching the six ways signpost, also known as Shippams Poste after the famous sandwich filler family, we stayed with the Roman theme and went straight on under the branches of the ancient trees until we got to the Gumber. Turning right we ducked into the Gumber Bothy covered picnic spot, spreading our coffee break fare on the tables and took the weight of our legs on the benches. The National Trust and West Sussex Council blue plaque’s reference to Hilaire Belloc caused some head scratching. Belloc's Sonnets and Verse (1923) contains the phrase "lift up your hearts in Gumber" which is why it is written on the plaque. Continuing through woodland in a southerly direction we came to Warren Barn where we forked right staying at the edge of woodland before head west and homeward towards The Plain and back into Eartham Woods. On reaching the road, turning right brought us back to the route of Stane Street and Monarch’s Way we retraced our earlier steps to the car park. Although the weather was drizzly and misty, our spirits were not dampened and once changed, we headed to The George in Eartham for our lunch.
We parked in the layby on the A272 and entered the Park at New Lodges. We began our walk of the 700 acre Deer Park walking along grassy paths down to Upper Pond where we took a left and headed up and over towards Lower Pond passing the old sweet chestnuts aged between 300 and 600 years old. Their gnarled forms make a magnificent sight and some of the trees bear witness to lightning strikes. There were Fallow Deer everywhere and tolerated our presence and were happy to pose for photos. Heading north east from Lower Pond up to Monument Hill and a gate leading out into Upperton village we walked single file along the road following the Park wall around to the right. We crossed the road overlooked by the ‘lived in’ Folly reportedly rented to the late Sir Simon Sainsbury and his partner before they moved to Woolbeding, on the edge of the Park. Easy walking down through the woods before taking a left up a short hill alongside the boundary of Pitshill House. Passing the Lodge House we walked down alongside the fence of Pitshill to our coffee stop with one convenient bench. Wonderful views of the house and its immaculate gardens. We headed back through the vineyards towards Tillington, admiring the recently pruned vines, and crossed over the road into the graveyard of the Church through the old lychgate and a beautiful display of snowdrops between the graves. On a walk with no stiles and no mud we suddenly encountered a few challenges. A road closed from a landslip of someone’s garden we took the decision to go around the barrier and walk to the end of the road. We crossed over to the path leading up to the Church and the public footpath leading back onto the A272 to be met with another path closure. Ignoring the warning we walked to the end of the grave yard to meet another barrier so decided to check out what was causing the closure: three men down in a large hole digging up the path with little space either side. At that point we heeded the warning of the men to back track through the graveyard and took the path alongside the main road back to our parked cars. We were given the party room at Halfway Bridge and had a delicious lunch.