For Halloween: Gothic Ruins, Graveyards and Ghost Trains

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Lowland and Hill Walks
Oct 31

16 people attending

4 places left

Your price
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Distance is 24 km (14.5 miles); total ascent is 230 m; terrain is undulating with no major climbs; surfaces are dirt, grass and tarmac.

Six hours or so hours after the witching hour (which is apparently between 3 and 4 in the morning) we'll start our walk. Our route to reach some Halloween hallmarks (castles, graveyards, relics) will proceed along trackways (or, if very muddy, quiet tarmac lanes) and go to West Grinstead, home to some vintage railway infrastructure, and Knepp Park, home to Tamworth pigs, longhorn cattle and Exmoor ponies. If the countryside all around looks like a tidy, landscaped park, then the park itself looks increasingly unkempt as the livestock graze and biodiversity increases. All in all, urbanity in the smart houses, rusticity in the remote farms, fantasy in the old remains, felicity in the autumn colours.

The sights:

Christ's Hospital: An independent school founded for poor boys by Edward VI in 1553, but moved from the City of London to Sussex in the 19th Century. Around 900 girls and boys (whose education is still paid for by bursaries) who wear Tudor-style uniforms of dark blue serge with yellow stockings. Main buildings are huge and in a simplified Gothic-Elizabethan style by Aston Webb, begun 1893, finished 1902.

West Grinstead: The topographer Ian Nairn is worth quoting: 'Halfway between Horsham and the Downs, at a point where the Weald has opened out and become more park-like, with trim hedges rather than copses. The Burrells with their pair of Nash houses [Knepp Castle and West Grinstead Park] and attendant landscaping have given it a character unlike anywhere else in Sussex: The Weald has been at first tamed, then let back, on a leash as it were, to be wild within limits.' Gateland's Farm is C17, Grade II-listed, gabled, tiled and timber-framed but with an alarmingly leaning chimney. St George's Church is by the River Adur and has stone slab roofs and a low, shingled spire. Early Norman north aisle, the rest is C13 but with a C15 timber porch. Good monuments such as brasses and busts by Rysbrack and Flaxman. Glebe Cottage is C18 and Glebe House is c1600. West Grinstead Station was on the Beeching-cut Horsham-Shoreham line and retains platforms, signage, signals and a carriage in green Southern livery.

Knepp Estate: Old Knepp Castle is a fragment of an C11 century Norman keep, 10m tall, with a mound and a small motte. New Knepp Castle was built by John Nash in 1809. Stucco, not stone, and in a flamboyant and irregular design. Burnt in 1904 and rebuilt exactly. Park by Humphrey Repton. The website states about the estate: '3,500 acres in the heart of the Sussex Weald. Knepp Estate...has been owned by the Burrells for over 220 years...Until recently most of the land was devoted to traditional arable and dairy farming but in 2001 we shifted our focus entirely and embarked on a series of regeneration and restoration projects aimed at nature conservation - or 'rewilding', as it has come to be known. We are still farming, just in a less intensive way - producing organic, pasture-fed meat from free-roaming herds of animals within the Wildland project.' We'll mostly just see the parkland.

Dragon's Green: A hamlet of pretty weatherboarded and timber-framed cottages but also some 1950s houses which give a suburban feel. The George and Dragon Pub is very pleasant. Handsome Newbuildings Place is 'Artisan Mannerist' in style, dated 1683, stone and brick built with a Dutch gable and home to Wilfred Scawen Blunt, author, poet, traveller and breeder of Arab horses, who is buried in the grounds.


I love having dogs on my walks and this walk is suitable for them. It is of moderate length, but there will be fields with livestock and a number of stiles and roads to negotiate. A dog must be obedient if it is off the lead. 

The route (please click the link in red to see it and note that if the autumn has been very wet, much of the route will be switched to tarmac lanes):

Setting off in a southerly then southeasterly direction we'll take the Downs Link former railway line and cycle path to Southwater. After this place, footpaths and lanes heading east past Fox End Farm and Furzefield Wood will take us to Copsale Road where, at Shuckers Farm we'll come off the road and head south past Maplehurst Farm. We'll then resume the Downs Link to West Grinstead Station. Heading southwest along Park Lane we'll reach West Grinstead hamlet where we'll cross the River Adur and then, heading east, the A24. Routes through the Knepp Estate will enable us to pick up a bridleway will take us north past Green Street to the lane to Dragon's Green. A route west than northwest, then north along a lane will head back past Netherwood and Lawson's Farm to the cycle path which will return us, via the outward-bound route, back to the station.

COVID-19 - 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.
  • You must also immediately self-isolate and not attend the event if you or someone in your household or support bubble shows coronavirus symptoms or tests positive. You can find the NHS self-isolation guidance here.
  • The main symptoms of COVID-19 are a high temperature, a new continuous cough, and a loss or change to your sense of taste and/or smell.
  • You may be subject to local lockdown restrictions, which you must fully comply with. Details of the location of these restrictions can be found here for England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.   
  • We do not encourage car sharing to events during the pandemic. Please comply with the safety travel guidance for England, Wales, and Scotland. Face coverings should be worn on public transport.
  • OutdoorLads will support the tracing systems in place across the UK  and attendance at an OutdoorLads event is considered permission to use contact details for this purpose if requested by the appropriate authority.  
  • All are required to practice social distancing – staying 2m (not 1m) apart at all times, including the lunch stop. Remember: Face, Hands, Space.
  • 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!
  • Please bring your own hand sanitising gel for your own use throughout the day. Use of face coverings is at your own choice, but please bring one with you just in case it's needed. Please bring any other PPE items required. Bring a disposable bag for any used PPE.
  • Members are advised to bring their own small first aid kit for personal use..
  • 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!

COVID-19: 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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(Picture credits: Deer in Knepp Park by The Saunterer; Knepp Mill Pond by Simon Carey; Christ's Hospital School by N Chadwick; Farmland by the Downs Link by N Chadwick; Furzefield Wood by Chris Thomas-Atkin; West on Copsale Road towards Copsale by Dave Spicer; Pasture land on Abinger Hill by Dave Spicer; Gateland's Farm by The Saunterer; Carriage open to the public, West Grinstead Station by N Chadwick; West Grinstead Station by Janine Forbes; St. George's Parish Church at West Grinstead by John Matthews; Church of St George's West Grinstead by Dave Spicer; Glebe Farm by Peter Jeffery; Knepp Castle by Simon Carey; Kneppmill Pond by Marathon; Permissive footpath, Church Wood by Robin Webster; Track in Marlpost Wood by Robin Webster; Cattle in Field by N Chadwick. All photos are copyrighted but are above credited to their copyright holders and are licensed for further reuse under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0). The other pictures are by the leader.)


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