Emsworth and Environs: Into the Downs, Back Round the Town

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Leisure Walks
Aug 19

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Distance is 12 km (7.5 miles); total ascent is 83 m; terrain is gently undulating, surfaces are tarmac, gravel, dirt and grass.

Once the suburbs of Emsworth are behind us and we're walking on this 120th lead of mine through the mixed woodland of Southleigh Forest on our way to the immaculate parkland of Stansted House, you'll begin to see how such a small area can hold such a big range of landscapes. And beautiful landscapes too, because we'll briefly enter the South Downs National Park and glimpse the verdant hills rolling away inland just before we veer round to head towards the coast. We'll follow the River Ems as it traces the transition from sheep to arable and open country to built-up area with the village of Westbourne in Sussex and the town of Emsworth in Hampshire being equally pretty and prosperous. 

The sights:

Stansted House: A remarkably remote and unspoilt setting considering the nearness of Portsmouth. Splendid grounds tended according to a sustainable management programme. The house itself is the third version, built in 1900 by Arthur Blomfield in an attractive neo-Wren style after the James Wyatt-version burned down in the late C19. 

Westbourne: On the Hampshire/West Sussex border and with the air of a small town like Wickham in Hampshire rather than a village. This is no accident: it was a local centre with a market until the C18. Streets with an abundance of mellow, handsome houses radiate from the now quiet marketplace. St John the Baptist Church is big, all perpendicular gothic in style from the late C14. Tower is early Tudor. The avenue of yew trees up to the porch is very ancient.

Hermitage: In the parish of Southbourne, contiguous with Emsworth. Named after a hermit who maintained a bridge over the River Ems. Lumley Mill is early C19, a curious mishmash of columns, pediments and battlements adjacent a mill that made biscuits for Nelson's navy but burned down in the early C20. Pretty flint gothick villas nearby. 

Emsworth: In the SE corner of Hampshire on the shore of Chichester Harbour. A famous maritime town with an abundance of attractive homes from elegant Georgian buildings to cosy fishermen's cottages. Once a medieval port for wine and other goods, it has one basin for boating and another for supplying Slipper Mill with water which fills at high tide and empties through a sluice at low tide. 

The route (click the link to see it):

We've got a mile of walking through the suburbs of Emsworth (called New Brighton) before we get into the splendour of Southleigh Forest. Using the Sussex Border Path in a northeasterly direction we'll cross Emsworth Common Road and Woodberry Lane and enter the Stansted Estate at Stubbermere. We'll cross in front of the house at South Coppers Wood and turn southeast to use footpaths that cross Park Lane. Passing Sindle's Farm we'll almost reach Aldsworth before using Aldsworth Lane to reach the Commonside part of Westbourne. We'll then walk through Westbourne proper, heading south, before turning down Mill Lane by the church. Passing through Lumley and Hermitage we'll go around Slipper Pond, glimpse Chichester Harbour and walk through the town back to the station car park.


I love having dogs on my walks and this is a near-perfect summer walk for them: it'll be cooler in the evening and it's relatively short, plus there are designated 'doggy splash' points on the River Ems. There are some lanes to walk down and busy roads to cross but they can run free in the woodlands and arable fields. A dog off its lead must be obedient.

IMPORTANT: Please read the following before you sign up to this event:

  • Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms, even if they are extremely mild, or who lives or is in a support bubble with someone showing symptoms, is asked not to attend. This is in line with the government’s coronavirus advice.
  • All are required to practice social distancing – staying 2m (not 1m) apart at all times, including the lunch stop.
  • Please join events within around one hour’s travel from your home, rather than travelling longer distances to get there.
  • Unfortunately, there won’t be any planned pub / café stops en route or at the end, and please don’t share sweets or snacks with others – we’re sorry!
  • Public transport use to the start point is discouraged, as this is a non-essential journey. No car sharing to the start point unfortunately either.
  • Please bring your own hand sanitising gel for your own use throughout the day. Use of face coverings is at your own choice.
  • Each person can only attend one OutdoorLads event a week. (Leaders to leave at least three days between events they lead.)
  • On walks, one person to hold open gates and allow everyone to walk through – so minimising surfaces that multiple people touch. 
  • Be aware that opportunities for toilet stops may be minimal if facilities are closed.
  • Please, please cancel at your earliest opportunity if you are unable to attend or are unwell, so that we can allow others to take up these valuable event spaces.
  • Much as it's difficult - no handshakes or hugs!

Participation Statement

OutdoorLads draws your attention to the fact that travelling and being away from home increases the risk of receiving and transmitting Coronavirus, whilst it is present in the UK. You are likely to choose not to participate in OutdoorLads events whilst there is a risk of Coronavirus transmission. However, should you choose to participate in OutdoorLads events whilst the risk is present, you must be aware of and follow the law and government guidelines, both when travelling to and from events as well as when participating in events.

Please note that every person participating should be aware of (and accept) that those members perceived as ‘in charge’ or leading the event are not experts, do not need to be experts, and are not regarded by OutdoorLads, or themselves as experts, but are amateurs with some experience in the event type and who are happy to impart their knowledge. Any advice given should be considered with this in mind by the recipient.

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Please see our website for more information including an FAQ about our events.

(Image credits: the first six pictures were taken by the walk leader and OutdoorLads can use them. Then his phone ran out of juice on the recce, so the rest of the pictures are by Jonathan ThackerNigel FreemanMike FahertyMike Faherty again and Mark Pilbeam. These non-original images are licensed for use under Creative Commons CC BY-SA 2.0.)


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