A Winter Wander in the Western Weald (38589)
"On the fourth day of Christmas OutdoorLads gave to me: / Four hiking hours / Three stately homes / Two modest hills / And a pub luncheon in The Black Horse."
Four hiking hours: a circular route starting at Horsham and taking in its pleasant, prosperous precincts as well as the remarkably remote, rolling terrain of the Low Weald to the south.
Three stately homes: Denne Park (1605), Sedgwick Park (mock-Tudor) and Chesworth Farm (late-medieval) set in a deer park, formal gardens and traditional farmland respectively.
Two modest hills: but Denne Hill and Hampshire Hill are high enough to give gorgeous views.
A pub luncheon in The Black Horse: a tiny, lovely 17th Century pub in the hamlet of Nuthurst.
Here's the usual infodump on buildings, settlements and landscapes:
Horsham: The well-to-do capital of the western Weald, but rather disjointed and overdeveloped. But there are still many lovely areas, especially south of the town centre where the Town Hall (1812) in Market Square gives way to The Causeway, a famed backwater that leads down to St Mary's Church, the River Arun and open countryside. The church (13th-14th Centuries) is big and towny, its shingled spire dominating the streetscape. The Causeway is an anthology of Wealden building materials: timber-framing, brick, sandstone, stucco, tiling and Horsham slate.
Denne Park: Originally built in 1605, but accurately rebuilt in 1870. Situated in a deer park and on a hill overlooking the town.
Sedgwick Park: Late Victorian mock-Tudor by Harold Peto, but quite picturesque. The formal Italianate gardens, laid out by George Peto, are noteworthy but only open in the summer. We'll see them at a slight distance. All that remains of 13th-Century Sedgwick Castle is a wooded mound and some rubble.
Chesworth Farm: What's left of a late-medieval house, built by the Dukes of Norfolk and home to Henry VIII's fifth wife Catherine Howard during her youth. It was here, aged 13 to 15, that she was repeatedly molested by her music tutor Henry Mannox. The farm now preserves old farming methods, rare breeds and the wildlife that thrived on farms before modern times. See more information about Chesworth Farm here.
Nuthurst: Mostly a terrace of 17th century farmworkers' cottages, some brick, some half-timbered. The church of St Andrew is medieval but heavy-handedly restored.
Monk's Gate: A hamlet the name of which is known around the world as the tune to the hymn 'To be a pilgrim'. Ralph Vaughan Williams collected the original folksong ('Welcome Sailor') from Harriet Verrall of the hamlet. She was also the source of the tune for the Christmas Carol 'On Christmas night all Christians sing', with her version thereafter being called the 'Sussex Carol'.
Please see the route here.
We'll soon come off of walking along the B2195 and head for the heart of Horsham, including Market Square and The Causeway. Footpaths will then take us out of the town, over the Arun, under the railway and before long through the Chase at Denne Park to Denne Hill to oversee the town. Further footpaths and bridlepaths, and a stretch of quiet lane will take us to Bourne Hill House and its posh stud farm. We'll then take footpaths past Sedgwick Castle and Sedgwick Park house and gardens. We'll soon be at Nuthurst for lunch at the pub at 1 o'clock.
After leaving the pub at 2 o'clock, we'll head off to Cook's Copse and Monk's Gate. We'll then ascend Hampshire Hill and enjoy more fine views. A footpath through Bushy Copse and Finche's Wood will lead back to a lane whereupon footpaths across gentle farmland will take us to Chesworth where we'll see the preserved farm with its historic breeds and extensive hedgerows. We'll then re-enter Horsham and retrace our steps along the Causeway, after which you can go shopping, go drinking, or go home.
What to bring
For your comfort and safety please be prepared for the anticipated weather and the terrain of the walk - keep in mind the following:
Boots: Hiking boots that are both waterproof and breathable, and provide good ankle support, are important as soon as you encounter any mud. Cross trainers may suffice in good weather and flat routes.
Socks: Proper walking socks keep your feet dry, and help prevent blisters.
Walking Trousers: (ideally water resistant) will be more comfortable than Jeans which are heavy and cold when wet. From April to October shorts are usually a better bet.
Waterproof Over-Trousers: essential in any significant rainfall. Breathable ones are best.
Layered clothing: allows you to quickly adapt to changes in the weather as well as body temperature. E.g. a base layer or a cotton T-Shirt; a mid layer like a micro fleece, or a rugby type thick shirt, and in cooler weather an outer layer consisting of a windproof jacket or a thick fleece.
Waterproof Jacket: essential when hiking in all but the calmest of weather. You get what you pay for with these. Breathable fabrics are advisable.
Hat: essential both in mid winter to preserve heat and in summer to prevent sunburn and heatstroke.
Gloves: essential in frosty weather.
Small Rucksack: One that is comfortable to wear is essential so that you can use your arms freely. Place valuables in water proof bags inside.
Sunglassses: April- Sept: comfortable sunglasses enhance your pleasure and keep insects out of the eye
Water: even in winter one can loose a litre or more of fluid by perspiration. If you fail to make this up you'll get dehydrated which can lead to headaches and other problems. A hydration bladder is easier to use than bottled water, but higher maintenance.
Food: a packed lunch will be required unless otherwise stated. In addition carry energy bars or similar to counter 'sugar lows'.
Medicines: If you have allergies, are diabetic, or have minor ailments don't forget these!
Food & Drink
We are booked in for lunch at 1 o'clock at The Black Horse Inn at Nuthurst. I will contact you two weeks before the walk to take your order. They need to know our order before Christmas, so I'd be grateful if you could be prompt in telling me what you'd like to eat.
As the pub can only accommodate 20 of us, I may need a few people to have packed lunches, perhaps on a bench in the churchyard. They would be very welcome to join the rest of the group in the pub afterwards.
There are a number of pubs in Horsham at the end of the walk.
Meeting & Times
Other Useful Information
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