Billingshurst to Amberley walk
Starts in gentle countryside, with the South Downs a thin line on the horizon, then via some steep hills and hidden valleys to finish on the crest of the South Downs with a panoramic view
This is a list of previous times this walk has been done by the club (since Jan 2010). For more recent events (since April 2015), full details are shown.
|Sat, ||Saturday Walk Billingshurst to Amberley - a South Downs adventure - and tease - with an excellent lunch pub in the village of Nutbourne||7||warm sunshine with a cool breeze|
|Sat, ||Saturday walk - Billingshurst to Amberley - To the end of the world and beyond||18||sun and high cloud|
|Mon, ||May Day Bank Holiday Walk - Billingshurst to Amberley - the South Downs||6||mostly sunny with high winds|
|Wed, ||Wednesday walk Billingshurst to Amberley - a South Downs tease - and maybe some early bluebells||10||hazy sunshine and warm|
|Wed, ||Wednesday Walk Billingshurst to Amberley - and Advance Notice of Planned Mid-Week Bluebell Walks||14||sunny at first then quite wet|
|Tue, ||Tuesday Walk - a South Downs Tease - with an early bluebell wood||11||fine sunny day|
|Wed, ||Midweek day walk - Billingshurst to Amberley||9||showers and sunshine|
|Sat, ||Saturday Second Walk - Walking south towards the South Downs||18||hazy sun in the morning but cloudy pm|
|Wed, ||Billingshurst to Amberley|
|Sat, ||Billingshurst to Amberley|
|Mon, ||Billingshurst to Amberley|
|Mon, ||Billingshurst to Amberley|
|Sun, ||Billingshurst to Amberley|
|Sat, ||Billingshurst to Amberley|
5 on the walk. 4 stopped for lunch at The Rising Sun while 1 continued on, not to be seen again.
The weather was sunny windy on the downs
At the airfield we had to be on "high alert" (their words) crossing the airfield to avoid being trampled by horses taking part in the Parham Point to Point.
The GPS track is significantly off at certain points and should be reviewed.
2 started the walk from Pulborough having failed to notice the train stopping at Billingshurst. We joined the posted route at Nutbourne but were ahead of the Billingshurst starters. After looking into the Rising Sun we carried on to Nutbourne Common and woods where found a sunny bench to sit and eat our sandwiches. Onwards through a golf course and the airfield which was being used as a racecourse where a point to point was taking place. The racecourse crossed our path and we had a close up view of four horses thundering past. Our route took us through a field full of cowslips. Up on the downs the strong north easterly wind was at our backs. We reached Amberley around 4.45pm.The Bridge cafe had closed by the pub was open and we had tea before heading to the station for the 5.18 train. We met one of the Billingshurst starters on the platform. He reported 4 had started from Billingshurst making a total of 6 on the walk. Three had gone to the pub for lunch. A pleasant walk through beautiful countryside in warm sunshine with a cool breeze
Correction 7 altogether
Diversionary train journeys are such fun! We took the old mainline route from Victoria via Dorking (before electrification of the Guildford to Havant line in 1933 this was the principal rail route to Portsmouth). As I predicted, no change was needed at Horsham.
13 assembled on the platform. One more was shanghaied by late trains from London Bridge and started the walk half an hour late but caught us before lunch. Four others were at the lunch pub: I am not sure what bits of the walk they did, but they turned up for the walk, so under the SWC Participation Registration Act of 2010 can be included. So 18 .
The rain had stopped by the time we started the walk and it was then a day of sun and high cloud . The early stages of the walk were a bit soggy underfoot (hello mud, my old friend: I’ve come to walk with you again…) and the woods were a bit confusing (who moved that three-armed footpath sign?) but no biggies. When I created this walk I thought it had a long morning, but we knocked it off with ease and were not late to the pub.
Nearly everyone ate there. I have criticised this pub in the past for slow service, but after just a bit of ditziness in taking orders, the food came with admirable despatch. We sat in the garden, some of us in sunshine. A red admiral butterfly fed on a rotten apple.
After lunch two did the short walk to Pulborough suggested by the very enlightened walk poster. The mysterious four lunchers did whatever they did. Twelve of us continued on the main walk, experiencing the usual mix of fields with bulls in, empty golf courses (though a full car park: I guess they were all in the bar) and a glider runway. Also lots of fungi, pointed out by our resident expert. Then up onto the downs on a long wooded climb and along the top as the sun went behind a cloud.
Getting to the Bridge Inn, a few got an inside table but most of us were banished to the marquee. Many were rushing for the 6.18 train. Some might have stayed longer but I panicked them into thinking the 7.17 might be cancelled. Instead I took out a small mortgage to buy a bottle of wine from the bar, which two of us drunk on the way home, helped belatedly by a third.
And so back into the maelstrom of maskless youth that is central London on a Saturday night. And home to the Great Darkness.
Actually some of us having ordered earlier got our food last and had to wait ages. It was particularly galling having to watch newer arrivals tuck into their food as we wondered if we had been forgotten. However the pub was welcoming and all the food did arrive eventually and was good.
Either the weather forecast put would-be walkers off today, or Karen's seaside walk was more enticing - or both - but we only mustered 6 today, 3 off the scheduled train, with 2 having driven from Surrey, and another car driver who set off ahead of us, believing she was late - we caught up with her later in the morning.
As for the weather, it was mostly sunny with high winds , but the rain held off (until early evening when train travellers were back at London Bridge).
The bluebell wood at walk start was almost full on, and all day we enjoyed fine displays of Spring flowers: more bluebells, lesser celandines, wooden Ms, primroses and much more, and our reward for the tough climb up onto the South Downs in the afternoon was to be welcomed by a bank of cowslips, probably the best I have ever seen.
Sheltered from the wind, temperatures today were perfect for Spring walking as our select group enjoyed good conversation as we progressed on this excellent walk, with its variety - and hills to keep us honest.
Just before Nutbourne 2 stopped for their picnic before taking their planned onward journey to Pulborough - I hope they enjoyed their afternoon walk. 2 stopped for their lunch at a table outside the closed Rising Sun pub in Nutbourne (a favourite watering hole of mine on any SWC walk - so what a shame it was closed today). That left the remaining 2 of us to stop for our picnic at a bench in Nutbourne Common, out of the wind with fine scenery all around. We waved at our companions as they passed us by, then set off after them, twenty minutes behind - still in sunshine - and strong wind. Our companions later reported spotting a badger in the light woodland just before the golf course (it would have been a first for me). The winds were too high to permit the gliders flying today, so for once on this walk we did not have to duck and dive as we walked down the edge of Parham airfield. On reaching the road we just resisted the temptation to divert left to the Crown Inn for a tincture - if we had we would never have completed the walk. Along Clay Lane, then the ascent of the Downs, with the mentioned cowslips at the top, to continue on the South Downs Way in such strong cross winds that it was difficult to keep upright at times. Any thought of being in time for the 16-17 hrs train were abandoned as we concentrated on making progress against the wind along the top. It was a relief to drop down to High Titten, to leave the winds behind us as we made for the railway station, but not before checking if the Bridge Inn was open. Alas, it had closed at 4 pm, but at least we were spared the rude "welcome" given to our companions who tried to obtain tea at the Houghton Bridge Tea Rooms. Again, they had closed early - why do so-called tea rooms close at 4 pm, which is tea time in my book ? !
The three rail travellers were reacquainted at the station in good time for the 17-18 hrs service, to be joined by the car driver taking the hop back to Billingshurst. Rail travel for us today was excellent and on time, in contrast to the debacle on this line experienced by SWC walkers on Saturday. Maybe the thought of a repeat performance was a third reason for avoiding this walk today - a shame as a wonderful days walking was missed.
Length: 22.8 km (14.2 miles)
Toughness: 6 out of 10 (one steep ascent up onto the South Downs - remainder of walk 3 out of 10)
London Victoria: 10-06 hrs Bognor Regis and Portsmouth Harbour service CJ 10-13; EC 10-23 hrs
Arrives Billingshurst: 11-12 hrs
Return Amberley to Victoria: 17 mins past the hour
Rail ticket Buy a day return to Amberley
At the start of today's walk you head through a bluebell wood. If bluebells are early this year - and at the time of posting this walk they appear to be - then you should enjoy a full carpet of the 'bells in bloom. Soon afterwards, as you make your way mostly on the flat through open fields, farmland and latterly a vineyard towards lunch, you see in the distance the South Downs. It seems to take an age to get to them later in the day, hence the tease, or as the Directions aptly put it, a pleasure deferred is a pleasure intensified.
Lunch today is in the village of Nutbourne at the excellent Rising Sun pub, a favourite of mine - usually very good food and very good draught beer in an atmospheric, traditional village pub. If you maintain a steady pace during the morning leg of the walk you should arrive at the pub in good time to be served food (12 noon to 2 pm).
After lunch you head towards the South Downs which never seem to get any nearer - all part of the tease. You walk through a golf course and along its access road past its 19th hole, to then walk along the edge of Parham Airfield, used by a glider club, into the outskirts of the village of Cootham. Here you head due south for 1 km down Clay Lane, a quiet road, to find yourself at the base of the South Downs. You now have a short but stiff climb up onto the Downs: once on top, having stopped for a breather and a drink, you then enjoy the ridge walk along the South Downs Way, offering splendid panoramic views. You can head into the Springfield Estate (recommended) on open access land to soften your tread over grass for a kilometer before returning to the SDW. You then drop down to a farm - and through its often sloppy, chalk mud access - and down to a road high above Amberley. You now walk down High Titten road to Amberley. Turn left for the railway station. Go under the railway bridge and you come to the Bridge Inn on your left - an ideal stop for tea before your journey home.
Walk Directions here L=swc.8
It's difficult to be precise on numbers today, as two walkers were on an earlier train, plus a couple with our directions who then chose to do their own thing - to be next seen at Amberley station - and one walker who set out from Pulborough. Including those on the posted train who met up with others at the Rising Sun pub in Nutbourne, I will put the boat out a bit and declare 10
The bluebells in the wood at the start of the walk were a big disappointment: droopy and bedraggled, in need of water, a blue fuzz - they can do better ! But the poor bluebell effort was more than the made up for by the wood anemones which were plentiful and fully open and quite lovely. We were also treated by a large patch of wild garlic on entering the wood, so we were not troubled by ill spirits or the bogey man for the remainder of the walk.
It was a fine Spring day with hazy sunshine and warm making for near ideal walking conditions, with a refreshing breeze on top of the Downs in the afternoon.
On the relaxing, mostly flat morning leg there were several clumps of primroses and other Spring flowers, with some daffs still on road verges and in house gardens - and some patches and small paddocks of half decent bluebells. Seeing the young lambs in fields with their mums just added to ones enjoyment of the walk.
The various waifs and strays who set out on today's walk met up at the excellent Rising Sun pub where three of us sampled the cuisine, and sandwichers enjoyed a pint.
We left the pub in batches, with me at the front - to be caught up later by two speedsters. Now that climb up onto the Downs: I am sure it gets steeper every time I try it - either that, or I'm finding it harder with the passing years - I'm sure it's the former. Anyway, once on top the usually stunning views from the ridge were lost in the haze - no matter, one could just about make out the main landmarks.
Four of us were on the 17-17 hrs train, skipping tea at the Bridge pub, with most others presumably on the 18-17 hrs service, hopefully finding time for tea at the pub.
Today's walk might have more than its fair share of tarmac, and it is deficient in water features, BUT that said, it has lots of variety, particularly with the contrast between the morning and afternoon legs, and late Spring is the perfect time to wheel it out and give it a spin. I believe all on today's walk enjoyed their day in the Spring sunshine - I certainly did.
I am a bit confused by your report, so I'm not sure who you did or didn't count in your attendance number, but I think the convention is that we are supposed to count only people that turned up because of the walk posting and with the intention of joining the posted group walk and who then walk at least a substantial part of the route as posted. But not some random people off the same train who happen to do the same or a similar walk by themselves. I may be wrong...
Length: 22.4 km (14.5 miles)
Toughness: 6 out of 10. One steep(ish) climb up onto the South Downs. Remainder of walk 3 out of 10
London Victoria: 10-06 hrs Portsmouth Harbour and Bognor service. CJ 10-12, EC 10-23 hrs
Arrive Billingshurst: 11-10 hrs
Return: Amberley to Victoria: 17 mins past the hour until (and including) 18-17, then 19-28, 20-29 and 21-29 hrs
Rail ticket: Buy a day return to Amberley.
Lunch: The Rising Sun, Nutbourne. 'Phoning ahead advised: 01798-812191. Your e.t.a.is 13-30 hrs
If the weather is half decent this should be a lovely walk, with plenty of variety. The morning is mostly flat, but not uninteresting, as you head towards Nutbourne for lunch. Mud warning: paths in the lovely bluebell wood which you walk through soon after you leave Billingshurst are likely to be very muddy still, despite the recent hot weather which will have helped dry them out, but not fully. Hopefully, the bluebells will be near full bloom now, to make up for the slubberdub paths. Once you have left the woods, there should not be any further mud all day (tempting fate, I know.....)
The afternoon, after Nutbourne, is totally different to the morning terrain. The alternative name for this walk is "The South Downs Tease" as you have the escarpment of the Downs ahead of you for ages, and after Nutbourne it takes all of two hours to reach their base before you have the steep ascent up to the top. But once on top, you should have lovely views all around as you walk along the ridge (the South Downs Way, or - better - the permissive path over grassland to its north). You eventually leave the Downs and head down High Titten for tea at the The Bridge Inn, close to Amberley railway station. The afternoon leg of this walk takes at least three hours, so you will be faced with a long - but rewarding - day's walking today, with no option for country dancing back in London this evening, unless it starts well after 8 pm. Best just enjoy the walk today.
Walk Directions here: L=swc.8
Mid-Week Walkers Planned Bluebell Walks
Wednesday 25 April (as above) SWC 8 - Billingshurst to Amberley
Thursday 26 April - Book 1, Walk 9 - Shiplake to Henley via High Wood
Tuesday 01 May- Book 2, Walk 5b - Tring to Berkhamsted via Dockey Wood
Wednesday 02 May - Book 2 Walk 13d - Guildford to Box Hill via Chantries Hill and Shere
May Day Bank Holiday, Monday 07 May - Book 1,Walk 42 - Holmwood to Gomshall, with option of continuing to Guildford
13 started this walk, not including our esteemed walk poster. But it turned out he had got a train half an hour early to get his lunch order in first, so 14 . It started out sunny and we hoped we might cheat the weather forecast. But no, at 12.30 the clouds rolled in and the showers started: some big heavy ones and lots of dripping in between, but some dry patches. Up on the downs at the end we had an enormous downpour, then bright sun, then more rain. So in all sunny at first then quite wet .
Otherwise, a fine day out. As author of this walk I tend to be modest about its charms, but several in the group were fulsome in its praise. The bluebell wood at the start put on a decent show - about 70% out I would say - and there were other small patches during the morning. The walk also has a vineyard, whose magnificent display of dandelions was being slaughtered by a motor mower as I crossed it, and a glider runway where we saw one bring towed into the sky as we passed. And up on the downs in the gap between the deluges there was a razor-sharp view of the North Downs and all in between.
Eight of us lunched at the wonderful Rising Sun: alas, the rain banished us from its glorious garden but we had a nice big table in its characterful bar. I did not see any other diners. By basic arithmetic that leaves six sandwichers, of who three went on to who knows where. Three more left to get a bus to Pulborough - to escape the rain or to go to evening events, I do not know. So eight of us got to The Bridge at the end of the walk for a hurried tea before the 6.17 train home. For much of the journey the sun shone, but it proved to be a canny choice of departure time since there was a massive power at Victoria just after we got back.
Length: 22.4 km (14 miles)
Toughness: 6 out of 10 (one steady, steep climb up onto the Downs, otherwise 3 out of 10)
London Victoria: 10-06 hrs Portsmouth Harbour / Bognor service. CJ 10-12 hrs, EC 10-23 hrs
Arrive Billingshurst: 11-10 hrs
Return: Amberley to Victoria: 17 mins past the hour to and incl. 18-17 hrs, then 19-28 and 20-29 hrs
and 17-25 and 18-20 hrs via Arundel
Posting of walk subject to possible Southern Rail travel disruption- strike action.
Rail ticket: buy a day return to Amberley
This walk gets fewer outings than it deserves, walk posters preferring its sister walk, SWC 9 - Pulborough to Amberley. Both walks contain a fair bit of road walking, particularly the legs up to the base of the South Downs, but there are lots of nice sections to savour on both walks. This time of year is an opportune time for posting the Billingshurst walk, as shortly after the start you walk through an extensive bluebell wood (Rosier Wood), often muddy, but if the 'bells are out you tend to overlook the mud.
The walk thereafter is a tease, as you see the South Downs in the distance ahead as you proceed in a southerly direction towards them, but they never seem to get any closer. In the morning you wend your way through farmland, copses, more bluebell woods, then a vineyard, before you reach the small village of Nutbourne, with its pub, the Rising Sun, a favourite of mine, and your suggested lunch stop. Best 'phone ahead with numbers, your e.t.a being 13-30 hrs. 01798-812191.
After lunch you can mix and match your onward route, should you wish, with the Pulborough walk , which shares your lunch stop. That said I prefer the route in the Billingshurst directions, which takes you beside a golf course, then through a glider club, before a long(ish) road stretch (Clay Lane) which leads you to the base of the South Downs. You got there ! Now it's a short, steep, knackering climb up to the top, where, after catching your breath, you embark on a lovely ridge walk, either along the South Down Way, or - much better - the grassy open access land (the Springhead Estate) to its immediate north. After two miles you descend to make your way through the sloppy mud around Downs Farm, then you drop down to join High Titten which takes you down into Amberley. The suggested tea stop on a mid-week walk is the pub next to the railway station - the Bridge Inn.
If you haven't tried this walk before, why not give it a go.
Walk directions here: L=swc.8
Next Tuesday walk, 09 May: SWC 50 - Hassocks to Brighton
3 on an early train and 8 on the scheduled service, making legs 11 on a fine sunny day and warmer than forecasted, although it was chilly in the breeze on top of the Downs. Before that we enjoyed good bluebell displays in Rosier Wood and elsewhere in the morning, although the bluebells are in desperate need of a drink. The solid, baked ground, in place of the usual muddy sections, was evidence of no rain for over two months. An excellent lunch was enjoyed by the four of us who dined at the Rising Sun in Nutbourne and our sandwichers enjoyed drinks in the pub's relaxed atmosphere. Suitably refreshed, we set out on the long afternoon leg, with the three early starters being ahead of the main group. The Parham Glider Club put on a nice display for us - of tugs taking off and gliders landing - as we made our way to the foot of the Downs. Once on top, the views were as good as any I had ever experienced as we progressed through the Springhead Estate before descending into Amberley. The 17-17 hrs train for the three of us, and the 18-17 hrs train for the rest, who had time for refreshments at the Bridge Inn. A thoroughly enjoyable day in the best of company.
Billingshurst to Amberley
Book 3* Walk 8 *online only
The walk starts with gentle countryside and then visits the village of Nutbourne where the recommended Lunch Pub is the Rising Sun.
After Nutbourne, there's more gentle countryside, a gliding club airfield, before a brisk climb onto the South Downs.
Here, Walkers are rewarded with great views in all directions before descending gently into Amberley.
You may find full details of the walk here and a PDF here
Suggested Lunch stop
Suggested Tea stops
The Riverside Tea Rooms opposite the Bridge Inn t:07765 790414 - you'll need to be there before 5pm
Return train times
If you would like a slightly less strenuous walk or the train has been delayed or cancelled, you might like to stay on the train to Pulborough (alighting 11:17 am if on time) and walk the morning section of the Pulborough to Amberley walk (Book 3 walk 9) to join up with the Billingshurst starters at the Rising Sun
I've just had a peek at the National Rail Web site to see if Southern is still running the train with it's new reduced timetable. At the moment it is still scheduled to run, so I will be doing the posted (Billingshurst) start.
If anyone is intending to do the shorter (Pulborough) start - perhaps you can pop a comment up to say so?
Hmmm ... I may have been a bit optimistic with the train journey for this walk.
You may find full details of Southern's revised timetable Here with a useful link to a map of revised Services.
The good news is the service is running on the "green" line from Victoria to Arundel for which Southern say "Most Southern trains will run on this route, but please check before travelling"
9 on this walk with 8 off the train and 1 late starter who caught a later train and caught a taxi to the lunch venue.
A day of showers and sunshine starting in woodland with fields, meadows and a cheeky little hill before a vineyard. Just prior to lunch a field full of many sheep breeds and a Llama minder rushed towards the last 3 walkers, presumably expecting to be fed.
Unusually, the Rising Sun was a little disorganised with some walkers waiting a fair while for food and one whose meal was forgotten. (She did however get a refund and a complementary yummy looking sandwich)
The afternoon section continued initially with bright sun, but was followed by frequent showers. The upside of this was a nice rainbow on the South Downs Section (and of course the views ...).
The last three on the walk took tea at the Bridge Inn, where the showers cleared to be replaced with a pleasant evening sun.
An interesting day out with varied terrain and weather.
Length: 21.9km (13.6 miles)
Toughness: 5 out of 10
9.32 train from Victoria (9.38 Clapham Junction, 9.48 East Croydon) to Billingshurst, arriving 10.44
Buy a day return to Amberley, from where trains return at 17.17. 18.17, 18.59, 19.29, 20.29 and 21.29.
For walk directions, click here.
With just three Saturdays left before the Great Darkness descends, this is nearly the last chance (for most of us, at least: we pass over those superhumans who say 15 mile walks are possible in January) to do longer walks. So I have picked this walk to make full use of the daylight.
It is also one of the more neglected walks in the SWC repertoire, having not had a Saturday outing for two or three years. It would be idle to pretend that it is an undiscovered gem, but it is certainly a pleasant enough day out with various small delights, heading southwards across initially flat country but gradually becoming gently hilly, with increasingly fine views of the South Downs.
Lunch is at the very lovely Rising Sun in Nutbourne, one of my favourite SWC walk lunch pubs and one I am sorry we don't visit more often. It is the only lunch option, so is maybe worth giving a courtesy phone call if the group is large, but (famous last words!) it has always previously managed to accommodate us easily.
You have 7.8 miles still to do after lunch, but plenty of daylight to do it. The South Downs now loom larger and larger in the landscape, and finally you climb them and follow their ridge, with fine views, down to Amberley.
Speedy types may get to the Riverside Tea Rooms before they close at 5pm, or divert to the Amberley Tea Rooms, which close at 5.30pm. For the rest of us, there is the not inconsiderable consolation of the Bridge Inn, one of the very best end of walk pubs, which has the dual advantage of serving wonderful food and being immediately adjacent to Amberley station. Linger a while there and toast the memory of the summer now past….
18 or possibly 20 on this walk. hazy sun in the morning but cloudy pm A very pleasant and talkative group who I think all enjoyed the walk and its various little delights. A path diversion is being proposed at one point in the route, but I had a chat with the homeowners who are proposing it and they walked the route with me, so I will incorporate this in the directions.
The Rising Sun pub was as charming and friendly as ever but despite being warned of our coming were decidedly dozy in taking orders. They insisted on serving all thirteen meals at once, which meant we waited nearly an hour while they cooked them all. But this time was spent pleasantly in the garden - it is only a pity that by now the hazy sun of the morning had given way to cloud.
As a result of all getting served at once, we did leave lunch together, however, and we largely kept together in the afternoon despite keeping up a fairly determined pace. After a close-up view of a glider being towed into the air at Storrington we had a stiff climb up onto the downs - a strain on aching leg muscles - but a nice finish along the top.
Most had the briefest of drinks in The Bridge before getting the 6.17 train. Six of us lingered as instructed by the walk post, however, and four of us had dinner, catching the 8.29 (by which time it was impressively dark).