Leith Hill in 851AD was the scene of a battle. The Anglo Saxons under Ethelwulf, father of Alfred the Great, defeated the Danes and saved England for Christianity.
The battle was fierce, 15-20,000 soldiers fought on each side and 'rivers of blood' flowed down the hillside.
In 1882, in a field near Ockley Village, many ancient human bones were found apparently the remains of the battle's dead.
Leith Hill Tower is the highest point in the south east of England - the top of the tower is 317 metres (1,029 ft) above sea level.
It was built in 1765 by Richard Hull of Leith Hill Place and has magnificent views across the North and South Downs: to the north it is possible to see St Paul's Cathedral and to the south there is a panorama over the Weald to the English Channel.
Amazingly, on a clear day, 13 counties are visible.
Richard Hull died in 1772 and was buried beneath the tower floor.
These beautiful gardens set in Wakehurst Place, West Sussex are part of the Kew Botanical Gardens. It holds the living plant collection which includes many rare and threatened species from around the world and even some that are extinct in the wild. It is the aim of the lab technicians to produce seeds from the plants as part of the Millenium Seed Bank Project.
There is a very pretty walled garden and a magnificent mansion to take in, with walks in the Pinetum and other woodland areas and also the water gardens.
Dotted around England there are little treasures, undiscovered by many, which add to the rich historical tapestry of England-and one such is this, the Bignor Roman Villa.
Tucked away in the countryside of Sussex, whilst little remains of the original, it has been restored to give enough detail to give a good insight to the original format.
Imagination is needed to comprehend the original structure, but some fascinating floors remain, complete with the mosaics and reconstructions of the house baths. The museum is small, but very informative, and picnic areas offer the opportunity for an extended stay.
However, this is not a whole day project-I would recommend a morning visit and then head to the nearby Parham House (qv) for a picnic lunch and afternoon exploration.
If visited together, then this is a good day out. The Sheffield Park station of the Bluebell Railway is a throwback to those halcyon days of steam with décor and staff dressed to match. The trains are originals, lovingly restored to their former glories by volunteers-and you can see their work in the sheds alongside the station, which proudly show off their stock. And there are some splendid trains to see. Thus far then so good-indeed this much is free! You can watch the trains, see the sheds-all for nothing. A trip on the trains will cost though-but worth every penny to flash through the beautiful English countryside with the sights, smells and sounds of steam power-really, this is how train travel should still be!
200 yards away is the entrance to Sheffield Park Gardens. This is a beautiful 120 acre woodland garden originally designed for the first Earl of Sheffield by Humphry Repton and Capability Brown in the 18th century. The garden is overlooked by the neo-Gothic mansion Sheffield Park House which is privately owned and unfortunately not accessible to the public.
The gardens original design was of trees, manicured lawns and two serpentine lakes. Later these two original lakes were extended to form the present chain of five, with picturesque waterfalls and a 25 foot cascade between the different levels. The shores of the lakes are planted with a superb variety of trees and shrubs. The great storm of 1987 sadly devastated the lakeside plantations, but with the gardens legendry vigour it is making a gradual recovery.
It’s a National Trust property so does have an entrance fee so take a picnic!
Set in the beautiful Sussex countryside, Parham House offers splendid grounds, a house rich in history and splendour and a quite beautiful little church.
The origins of the house date back to 1577, and it has been updated a number of times since, but still retains the heritage feel expected from such a stately home-from the Elizabethan Great Hall to the third longest Gallery in the country amongst many other rooms of interest, this is a reminder of the ‘Grand Old Days’ of England.
The gardens cover four acres, and include a lake, maze and numerous flora and fauna.
Finally, just outside the grounds of the house is St Peters church - the only remains of the ‘lost’ village of Parham. The church contains original Victorian style pews, configured in self contained boxes.
I recommend making time to sit in the churchyard for some time as it affords the most spectacular views of the rolling hills and strolling deer of the Sussex countryside.
If you visit, I recommend also visiting the nearby Bignor Roman Villa (qv)
This is approx. 10 miles. (6.3/4 miles starting in Warnham, where parking is available in the Village Hall)
Starting as a walk alongside the Red River, nearby Tanbridge school, the path takes you across the Rookwood Golf course and into Warnham.
Heading through Friday Street and Church Street, you will note this is the older part of the village. Field Place, just to the south, was the birthplace of Percy Shelley (1792 -1822) the poet. The house is not open to the public, nor does the path take you via his home.
The views are stunning although the walk is fairly flat. Part of the track is along Stane Street, the old, famous Roman road, that linked Chichester to London Bridge. A lovely church in the village is well worth a visit and I had the pleasure of attending performances of Farlington School there in the past as my daughter made her way through her education. A wonderful church retaining it's village importance to date.
The full circuit takes you through Rowhook and then south to the river Arun.
There is a super pub at Rowhook called the Chequers, dating back to the 15th century , this can be used as an en route stop, the menu is quite sizeable.
Warnham has two pubs the Greets dating back also to about the 15th century I believe and the Sussex Oak which has a large garden.
Here’s a walk combining all the best elements of the English countryside. At various stages there is wildlife, farm life, open fields, valley views, close paths, woodlands and a riverside. There are pigs, cows, swans, hawks and a plethora of fauna to see. There’s also a water mill, an historic bridge built in 1423 and still standing and a 12th Century church! But best of all the walk starts at a super pub, and has another at the half way point serving excellent ramblers fare! What more could the average walker ask for?
The full walk is 9 miles, but there is the potential for a short cut, halving the distance, by crossing fields just after the half way watering hole, the White Hart.
Starting at the Swan Inn in Fittleworth, the walk is relatively well signed, assuming you are reasonably vigilant and does offer a huge variety of scenery. The pigs are on a large farm, the cows in fields that you traverse (along with the odd tame bull so don’t wear red). The church is in Stopham and it is a delight, where there is also the old bridge in Stopham adjacent to the lunch venue-the White Hart.
A super 6.5 mile walk. Bolney was once divided into two small halves, one side with a few cottages, church and pub, the other with a few shops, ie butcher, baker and general stores. This has now virtually disappeared. However, you will easily locate the old butchers and bakers, both of which has been converted into homes but retain their old shop fronts.
The rest of the village has become populated with modern homes.
This walk traverses Bookers Farm, now a vineyard with a shop, you are also able to take a look about here. The walk continues into varied surroundings, farm lands, lovely Rout Farm on the Downs, Wykehurst Park.
Sadly we did not make time enough to view the church but I am told its well worth it with many treasures to see.
To end your walk a lovely pub called the Eight Bells sits in wait. It is suitably named after the bells in the nearby church. It has a substantial menu and is an ideal waterhole for journeys end.
Rusper is a true border village, the Border Path seperates West Sussex and Surrey.
Just along from the Plough Inn, which dominates the High Street, opposite the lovely country church is Ghyll Manor and Ghyll Cottage.
The word Ghyll is a Norse word, describing a water-cut ravine. Apparently Rusper is one of the country's finest examples of this particular feature.
The trail takes you alongside the Ghyll and through the Horsegills Wood (bluebells are spectacular here) .
The village school rings the bell at 9am each day. The church of St Mary Magdalene dates back to 1287.
This village forgoes the peace of the country because of its proximity to Gatwick airport, a perfect place for plane spotters however.
A 59 kilometre (37 mile) route, open to walkers, horse riders and cyclists managed by West Sussex and Surrey County Councils and
Waverley Borough Council.
This route follows an old railway line and is accessable in areas by car or train.
I have spent many a leisurely hour both cycling and walking this stretch of countryside and lapping up what beauty this part of England has to offer.
This village dates way back, it's medieval church (1150) is on the site of an original Saxon church, unfortunately we were unable to enter it when we visited.
There are stocks and a whipping post (1650) that can be seen outside of the church, a museum and windmill as well as old stone built and half timebered dwellings.
A quaint village shop still exists and I believe there is only one pub now which is that of the Queens Head.
West Chiltington is has an unusual claim to for the South of England, in that within its parish boundaries it has three established vineyards.
Fryern's is very small and not well known outside the village, however, Nutbourne is more well-known locally and is gradually changing its grape varieties from Germanic typed (Sylvaner and Muller-Thurgau) to French ones (Pinot Noir and Chardonnay). We found them very friendly at this vineyard as we stubbled upon it's shop gasping for water, to find it sold, naturally, nothing but wine, the good country people quickly rallied not just to serve us cups of cold water but to point us back onto our correct route.
The vineyard of International fame is Nyetimber. Nyetimeber is based on an old manor which reputedly was part of the dowry of Anne of Cleves when she married Henry VIII but is probably the most successful fizzy wine producer in England.
The first vintage in 1992 was served at the Queen's Golden Jubilee dinner.
Our walk led us through vineyards, church yards, by streams and into country lanes, a watering stop at West Chiltington Golf club, much needed by the time we reached it, through fields threatening us with bulls and close up encounters with Llamas.
This is a beautifully peaceful journey up the river where you will take note of the quarries that used to be worked and the Black Rabbitt pub, a great place for lunch, which also dates back to the quarry workers time.
This is a beautiful part of West Sussex and features Englands second largest castle. It is perched high on a hill overlooking the River Arun. The castle was built by Roger de Montgomery in the 11th century and has been the seat of the Dukes of Norfolk for over 700 years.
Another magnificent piece of architecture is the Catholic Cathedral in the High Street, sitting proudly at the end of rows of cafes, craft and antique shops and restaurants.
A trip on the river Arun is peaceful and gives one time to peek into the past of smugglers making their journey from Littlehampton to Arundel to deposit their cargo of tobacco, tea and brandy.
Shipley is just a 15 min drive from Horsham and sits next to the Hamlet of Dragons Green. Shipley has the largest windmill in Sussex, built in 1879 and in working order, although presently it is no longer open to the public.
The windmill along with the property Kingsland was once owned by Hilaire Belloc, the author and poet who wrote a lot about Sussex.
The large parish church, St Mary's, is Norman and was built during the 12th Century.
Shipley was the largest Preceptory (Headquarters) in Sussex. In approximately 1139, Philip de Braose (or Harcourt), son of Robert the Strong, gave the Shipley manor and its church to the Order of the Knights Templars. Shipley was a mainly agricultural preceptory, and even today, this pleasant village remains peaceful and unspoilt.
George Tull, in 'Traces of the Templars', tells us more about the special reliquary that was found in this church:
"A special treasure…was a 13th c. reliquary which, from its style, was probably made in Limoges. This was in the form of an oakwood casket about seven inches long with a sharply pitched roof, covered in copper and enamelled with Saints and the Crucifixion in gold, dark and light blue; essentially a tiny church or shrine for the Saints whose relics were here. Unfortunately, there is now only a replica of this priceless reliquary to be seen there, as the original was stolen in 1976." (1)
The Templars were also known to have had lands nearby at Loxwood, Wisborough and Bramber, and the chapel at Knepp.
The last Preceptor of Shipley was William de Egendon, 1304-8, after which the lands were turned over to the Hospitallers, which was usually the case after 1307.
Dragons Green has a selection of timber cottages and is quite isolated, although close to the A272. Dragons Green is said to have seen the last of any dragons in England, probably a monitor lizard.
There are two pubs one is the George and Dragon and the other The Country Man Inn, both are mentioned in my restaurant tips.
The George and Dragon has a headstone in it's front garden, remembering Walter Budd, an albino and epileptic who took his own life as a result of taunting. He was buried in the churchyard with the words 'May God forgive those who forgot their duty to him who was just and afflicted'.
The church demanded this was removed from the graveyard and so his parents, who were once the owners of the pub, placed the stone in their garden. A brave act indeed during such times.
Our walk also included footpaths through the polo fields, so a chance to watch some action on this occasion.
Sheffield Park is a beautiful National Trust property with lovely walking trails and beautiful lakes and ponds. It was designed by Capability Brown and contains very unusual plantings.. Sequoia trees, palm trees.. yes - all in the south of England.
I have more pictures under my England page.
Just a mile away is one of the stops for the famous Bluebell Railway.
27-29 High Street, Arundel, BN18 9AG, gb
Good for: Business
Pretty characterless hotel on an industrial estate east of the city centre. Too far out to walk....more
Stayed here for one night following flight into Gatwick, booked it prior to visit following...more