18.3km (11.4 miles)
5: mainly flat, with one long but well-graded hill climb
Amberley is on the Horsham-Littlehampton line, served by trains out of Victora. Note that Amberley has a short platform, and you can’t alight from the rear three carriages of an eight car train.
Suggested train : From September to March, catch the nearest train to 9.10am from Victoria. This will get you to the Crown Inn in Storrington in time for lunch. In summer, you could take a train an hour or even two hours later and have lunch at one of the earlier lunch options, reserving the Crown Inn for tea.
OS Landranger 197, Explorer OL10 (formerly 121)
This walk has the same finish along the crest of the South Downs as SWC Walk 8 Billingshurst to Amberley or SWC Walk 9 Pullborough to Amberley, but it takes in a slightly longer section of the ridge than those other two walks (5km or 3.1 miles). It also has a more varied and interesting climb up on the downs.
The morning is flat, first passing through the river meadows of the Arun to the picturesque village of Amberley, and then following a route along the foot of the downs, with fine views up onto the ridge one way, and down onto the marshland of Amberley Wild Brooks the other. You get a brief taste of the Brooks, before passing through the park of a stately home, Parham House, and to lunch in Cootham.
After lunch there is a long but reasonably well-graded climb up onto the downs (which is what earns this a toughness rating of 5), and then there is an easy walk with fine views along the top of ridge, ending with a descent to Amberley.
This is a good all-season route, with the only potential problem being the short section crossing the meadows from the River Arun to Amberley village, which can be very wet or even flooded in winter. It can be avoided by turning right out of the station and following the main road to the village. The road curves left and in 600 metres, you ignore a minor road uphill to the right. Ignore a signposted footpath to the left in 300 metres, but in 600 metres more, after the road makes a long curve right, take a footpath on the left. This brings you into the village at a road T-junction: go straight across the main village street and on up another road: this curves right to bring you to the site of the (closed) Black Horse pub, para 13 in the walk directions.
The Crown Inn (01903 742625) Cootham, 8.2km (5.5 miles) into the walk is the best located lunchtime pub for this walk. It serves food from 12pm to 2.30pm Monday to Saturday, and 12pm to 3.30pm on Sundays. For drinks, the proprietor says he “usually stays open all afternoon”. This pub has become more popular recently and it is a good idea to ring in advance to make sure they have a table. However, it does also have a fairly large bar area and garden where you can also eat.
An earlier option 4.2km (2.6 miles) into the walk is the Sportsman (01798 831787), Cross Gate, a modern pub with a lovely view of Amberley Brooks. It is open daily from 11am to 11pm (10.30pm Sundays) and serves food, but whether it does food all afternoon I am not sure.
The Black Horse pub in the heart of Amberley, 3.2km (2 miles) into the walk has been closed and up for sale for some years, but the nearby Amberley Village Tea Room (see Tea below) would provide light lunches.
The Riverside Tea Room and Gardens (01798 831066 www.riversidetearooms.co.uk) has a fine riverside location just beyond Amberley station, but closes at about 5pm. The author has never yet managed to get to it in time, and so can’t comment on the quality of its cakes.
Certainly recommended, however, and reached by a small diversion off the route (see end of main directions), is the Amberley Village Tea Room (01798 839196 www.amberleyvillagetearoom.co.uk), a charming and friendly tea room in the village of Amberley, next door to the Black Horse pub. It is open until 5.30pm daily except Wednesday from Easter to the end of September, but at weekends only from March to Easter and in October. It is closed November to February.
Otherwise, the friendly and atmospheric Bridge Inn (01798 831 619) just beyond Amberley station serves tea and coffee until at least 10.30pm, and is also a great place for dinner, with outside tables in summer
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Out (not a train station)
Back (not a train station)
National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Travelline SE (bus times): 0871 200 2233 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234
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Full directions for this walk are in a PDF file (link above) which you can print, or download on to a Kindle, tablet, or smartphone.
This is just the introduction. This walk's detailed directions are in a PDF available from wwww.walkingclub.org.uk