Pulborough to Amberley walk

Historic Pulborough, gentle hills, a gem of a pub, an RSPB marshland, and up and over the South Downs to Amberley.

View from the downs Pulborough to Amberley walk

View from the downs

Pulborough to Amberley walk

30-Jun-19 • Saturdaywalker on Flickr

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View from the downland climb Pulborough to Amberley walk

View from the downland climb

Pulborough to Amberley walk

18-Jul-15 • Saturdaywalker on Flickr

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The climb up onto the downs Pulborough to Amberley walk

The climb up onto the downs

Pulborough to Amberley walk

30-Jun-19 • Saturdaywalker on Flickr

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View from the downs Pulborough to Amberley walk

View from the downs

Pulborough to Amberley walk

01-Jul-20 • Saturdaywalker on Flickr

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Pulborough to Amberley Pulborough Levels

Pulborough to Amberley

Pulborough Levels

26-Jul-08 • Viv Lewis on Flickr

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Pulborough to Amberley Pulborough Levels

Pulborough to Amberley

Pulborough Levels

26-Jul-08 • Viv Lewis on Flickr

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The devil - standing in a pond Rising Sun's garden, Nutbourne. Pulborough to Amberley

The devil - standing in a pond

Rising Sun's garden, Nutbourne. Pulborough to Amberley

13-Apr-09 • moontiger on Flickr

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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.

Updated: Mon, 17-Jan-22

Date # Post
Wed, 29-Sep-21 12

Wednesday walk Pulborough to Amberley - Nutbourne, Pulborough Brooks, a RSPB Visitor Centre, Rackham, then up onto the South Downs before descending to Amberley

SWC 9 - Pulborough to Amberley

Length: 16.6 km (10.3 miles). Option to return to Pulborough after lunch on a 6 mile, flat circuit, or a little later via the Wild Brooks - 8.3 miles
Toughness: 6 out of 10 One steady climb up onto the South Downs. Remainder easy going. Shorter options both avoid the climb onto the Downs
London Victoria: 10-05 hrs Southern service to Portsmouth & Southsea & Bognor Regis CJ 10-12, EC 10-23 hrs
Arrive Pulborough: 11-19 hrs
Return: 17 mins past the hour
Rail ticket: buy a day return to Amberley
This is the sister walk to SWC 8 - Billingshurst to Amberley, and although the walk-ends are the same, and both walks share an excellent lunch pub (one of the best in the SWC repertoire) the walks are quite different. Today's walk is also quite different from the Pulborough Circular walk posted recently on a Sunday. If you went on either of these walks you should enjoy today's walk as well.
We start on the flat as we leave Pulborough and head through farmland and over fields to the village of Nutbourne, where we stop for lunch at the Rising Sun pub, or picnic nearby.
After lunch we soon walk along the edge of Pulborough Brooks to the hamlet of Wiggonholt to visit its remote, charming church. Next up is the RSPB Pulborough Brooks Visitor Centre, where we can purchase tea, before continuing through woods until we reach a road called Rackham Street. The next section is a bit tedious as we head along this minor road for a mile and a half until we arrive at the base of the South Downs, which we ascend - our exercise for the day ! Once up on top it's the ridge path or through access land (softer on the feet) until we drop down High Titten (road) to Amberley, not far from the railway station. If open, the Bridge Inn next to the station makes for an excellent post-walk refreshment stop.
Walk Directions are here L=swc.9

Please note that the route of this walk has changed slightly after lunch. So if you are one of these people who store old GPX tracks or walk directions for re use, you might like to download the new version.

The change avoids a horrid walker unfriendly farm just after Nutbourne. Instead it goes along the edge of a vineyard (much more middle classs…). It means you turn left out of the pub, not right as before.

The old path still works, if you don’t mind discarded farm machinery, aggressive cattle and picking your way through a mucky farmyard wondering where the path is.
The posted train from Victoria was meant to separate at Horsham, but due to lack of train crew, this did not happen, and our service to Bognor, calling at Pulborough, was cancelled. So 11 of us got off at Horsham and waited for the next service, fortunately only 30 minutes later, which duly arrived on time. Waiting patiently for the train travellers at Pulborough was one car driver, and so 12 of us set off on today's walk only slightly behind schedule. To make up time to ensure we arrived at the lunch pub at lunchtime, our car driver took us on an attractive short cut to Nutbourne, which worked very well, and we reached the Rising Sun at 1 pm. 6 of us decided to dine in the pub's pleasant back garden, and most of us sipped Harvey's Sussex beer (excellent) whilst waiting for our meals to arrive. The wait was a long one (pub short staffed) but well worth it as the food when it arrived was well up to this pub's high standard. One or two of our picnickers joined us for a drink before 5 of them opted to head off on the afternoon leg. The diners suitably replete set off 30 minutes later. The walk author's new route after the pub is a major improvement on the farm route and we observed the vines in the vineyard to be laden with bunches of red grapes, due for harvesting in a week or two.
We were fortunate with the weather today. It was mostly sunny and comfortably warmish with a gentle breeze at times, ideal for today's adventure. On reaching the RSPB centre in Pulborough Brooks early afternoon 3 decided to take tea there, with at least one taking the circular route back over the Brooks to Pulborough. That left 4 of us to continue to Amberley where we were reunited with the picnickers at the railway station. The 17 17 hrs service arrived on time to take 9 of us home, having enjoyed a fine day's walking in the best SWC company. During the day the walk's author had e mailed me say he had wanted to join us on the walk but had to call in sick. We wish him a speedy recovery and thank him for writing such an excellent walk, full of variety, with one good stiff climb up onto the Downs to remove the cobwebs : and the views "on top" were wonderful today in the bright sunshine.

Correction to my walk report below: the car driver was actually on the train having intentionally taken the service half an hour after our posted service: no one saw him board the train. He also tells me he had one companion for his walk back to Pulborough from the RSPB centre, with the other walker who stopped for tea at the centre continuing alone to Amberley on a solo walk I hope she made it OK.
The Overground to CLJ was down as well. Otherwise you would have had Unlucky 13 tagging along behind, whistling a happy tune and smiling a smiley face
Sat, 15-Jun-19 25

Saturday walk - Pulborough to Amberley - Towards and up onto the South Downs

Length: 16.5km (10.2 miles) - with a longer option of 19km (11.8 miles): see bottom of post
Toughness: 5 out of 10: fairly flat, with a big climb near the end. T=3.09

10.06 train from Victoria (10.13 Clapham Junction, 10.23 East Croydon), arriving Pulborough 11.19

But a day return to Amberley.

For walk directions click here. For GPX click here. For map click here.

This is a slight change from my earlier post (Pulborough Circular), due to the biblical quantities of rain which fell on Monday, with more forecast later in the week, which could have made the Amberley/Pulborough Wild Brooks waterlogged. This replacement walk goes through similar territory, but only skirts the Wild Brooks, rather than going out across them: it should therefore be firm underfoot throughout.

You start with a gentle ascent into an unexpected little area of hills which have fine views to the south of your ultimate destination, the South Downs ridge. This brings you in just 3.4 miles to the lovely Rising Sun in Nutbourne. In many ways the perfect lunch pub, with characterful interiors and an idyllic garden, if it has one fault it is that it can be a bit slow serving large groups. If the group is big, therefore, some adventurous or public-spirited types might like to carry on 0.9 miles to the White Horse in Mare Hill, which also looks to be a perfectly pleasant establishment (and has a garden), but which I have never eaten in, so can't comment on further.

After lunch you skirt the Wild Brooks - a very scenic stretch. In just 2.3 miles (from Nutbourne: 0.9 miles from the White Horse) you come to the RSPB Visitor Centre for the Pulborough Brooks Reserve and its cafe, where it is hard to resist stopping for a cuppa (and perhaps a cake as "dessert"): if it is not raining, do sit at the outside tables, which have a fine view.

There then follows a woodland section and 3km on a straight road - usually fairly traffic-free - which brings you to the foot of the downs. A magnificent climb follows, up flowery slopes where you may see some early downland butterflies, and then along the top of the ridge, with fine views to the north and south, and down to Amberley.

Tea options in Amberley include the Riverside Tea Rooms (closing 5pm) near the station and the Amberley Tea Room (closing 5.10pm: a short diversion into Amberley village, where the Black Horse Inn is also a possible refreshment stop). Otherwise, the very pleasant Bridge Inn is conveniently situated right by Amberley station.

Trains back from Amberley are at 17 past the hour until 21.17 (the last train)


- If you go to the Amberley Tea Room/Black Horse and if the ground is not too sodden, you could carry on westwards down through the village, out across the water meadows to the River Arun and follow that back round to the left to get to Amberley station. This would only add a mile or so to the walk, in addition to the 1km extra loop to get to Amberley Tea Rooms.

- Alternatively, if you lunch at the Rising Sun, you could swop after lunch to the afternoon of the Billingshurst to Amberley walk - walk directions here - start from paragraph 64 on page 4 - GPX here, map here. This gives you a slightly longer afternoon route (13.5km/8.4 miles versus 11.1km/6.8 miles) and a longer stretch on the South Downs ridge, giving you a total walk from Pulborough of 19km (11.8 miles).

Glad this walk has been changed given two other marathon walk/journey posted this saturday.
You might think that. I couldn't possibly comment....
Also Mike A's posting? That's also a shorter walk you must have missed that Anonymous. Seems like a fair split with something for everyone 2 short/moderate length walks in familiar territory, as well as one good leg stretcher and a new location for the energetic and adventurous who don't mind an early morning.
Mike A's walk has been posted in the last hour or so, after our initial conversion. Good to see there is another shorter choice for Saturday.
Anonymous is spoilt for choice then (^ ^)
23 at the station but I am reliably informed at least one was on a later train and one turned up after lunch having driven to Pulborough and hidden in his car to watch the group walk off, so 25 in all. As for the weather: 2 out of 10: must try harder. The Beeb had implied sunny intervals and showers: what we got was permacloud with showers in the afternoon. I kept thinking I must come back and try this walk at a sunnier time of year mid June, for example.

OK, I am moaning a bit. There were a couple of sunny intervals. One nicely coincided with some of us getting to the RSPB cafe. We sat outside in the sunshine with a lovely view and nice Eccles cakes, and the temperature soared ten degrees and my mood fast forwarded from October to August while sparrows and white doves sparred for cake crumbs. One of the party split off here to do the short circular route back to Pulborough possibly the first time it has ever had an SWC outing.

We had split for lunch between the two pubs, the sandwichistas using this halt, as usual, to sneak off into the lead. Those of us who went to the White Horse found it a nice place, with a characterful interior, picture window views of the South Downs, and a pleasant enough garden, though as it was now drizzling we ate inside. There were few other diners and the food took a long ish time to emerge, but was nice and well portioned when it did (three times the size of the meal in the gourmet pub in Brill last week and half the price).

The 3km road walk after the RSPB place was somewhat marred by there being a gymkhana going on half way along it, which generated quite a bit of traffic. The climb up onto the downs one of the loveliest in the south east in my humbles was marred by rain (so no butterflies apart from one small heath who may have taken to the air to avoid being trodden on). But up on top the rain stopped and we had grand views.

I am assuming many ended in The Bridge Inn and got the 6.17 train. Three of us decided to try for the Amberley Village Tea Room and, arriving just ahead of their 5.10 cut off, were admitted to the elect. After tea we decided to walk through the village, across the watermeadows and along the river to the station an idyllic walk through lush grasses and interesting flowers on which unfortunately it decided to rain relentlessly. We dried off in The Bridge, shared a large chips and caught the 7.17.

Sat, 24-Jun-17 29

Pulborough to Amberley - Gentle hills, an RSPB reserve, downland flowers

SWC walk 9 - Pulborough to Amberley
Length: 17.2km (10.7 miles)
Toughness: 5 out of 10: generally flat, but with one big climb near the end

9.36 train from Victoria (9.42 Clapham Junction, 9.53 to East Croydon) to Pulborough, arriving 10.49

Buy a day return to Amberley.

For walk directions click here.

It has been a while since this lovely walk had a Saturday outing. It starts with a gentle range of hills with fine views southwards towards our objective - the South Downs ridge. Just 3.4 miles brings you to the very characterful Rising Sun pub in Nutbourne, which has a lovely garden. It has sometimes been a bit slow about producing food in the past, so I thought an early arrival there would be no bad thing.

Alternatively, another 0.8 miles further on is the White Horse, which as far as I know no SWC-er has ever tried, but which may be perfectly nice too (albeit that it is on a main road, so less tranquil than the Rising Sun). But a large group might like to split between the two.

After the White Horse there is a complete change of scenery - out across the flat marshland of Pulborough Wild Brooks, which has a beauty all of its own. 1.5 miles of this brings you to the RSPB Visitor Centre, which has a self-service tea room and outside tables with panoramic views. It too can be a little slow serving, however (maybe it is a local trait...)

There is then a three kilometre section through the woods down a long and quiet straight road. You could call this section dull - or see it as relaxing (no need to focus on the directions). If it is at all hot, it offers nice shade. Finally, the dramatic finish: a steep climb onto the South Downs up a slope that should be alive with downland flowers and butterflies at this time of year (but you never know: these things are unpredictable) and then a short ridge walk with magnificent views to finish.

In Amberley, if you can get there in time, the Riverside Tea Rooms are a treat, but they shut at 5pm. The Amberley Village Tea Rooms (reached by a short diversion, given in the directions) stay open till 5.30pm. Otherwise the Bridge Inn is an SWC favourite: it is right by the station, has outside tables and serves gorgeous food (including some Greek dishes) from 6pm.

Trains back from Amberley are at 17 past to 17.17, then 18.59, 19.29, 19.52, 20.30 and 21.30 (last train).t=swc.9
Having spent a few days in London and here in Hastings I can tell you that it is a bit cooler on the coast. Perhaps a coastal amble. Dover Deal?
How about Sandgate to folkestone?
No cancel that, can't attend
29 on this walk, including 2 late starters but not including the "walk inspector", who only joined us for tea at the RSPB reserve. The weather was drizzly at the start and finish with a bit of near sunshine in the early afternoon. In other words generally cloudy, but some were pleased not to be doing the walk in the heat we had earlier in the week.

Others should comment on the walk route not me, since I am its author, but in my hearing people reported themselves pleased with it. For me this was a walk of little pleasures a meadow that was alive with chocolate brown Ringlet butterflies, the flatlands of the Wild Brooks, loads of lesser stitchwort everywhere, the lush greenness of the verges and field corners.

14 or so of us lunched in the Rising Sun in its lovely garden. They huffed and puffed about the intrusion despite having almost no other customers but the food was good when it finally came. Some, I am told, tried the other pub. I would love to know how they got on, having never been there myself. It looked nice when we passed it and someone reported it had a garden.

I assumed most would stop at the RSPB centre for tea but only a handful did. It gets Brownie points for having vegan cakes. Those who did not stop had the Riverside Tea Garden at the end of the walk as their reward. Huge slabs of cake, I hear.

Some of us considered dining at The Bridge but it was too soon after tea so we took the 6.17 train instead. Seven of us then had a Thai meal near Victoria.
Sun, 06-Mar-16 24

Sunday Walk 2 – Lots of variety on this South Downs walk

Extra Walk 9 – Pulborough to Amberley
Length: 17.2 km (10.7 miles). Toughness: 5/10

10:02 Bognor Regis train from Victoria (Clapham Jct 10:08, East Croydon 10:18), arriving Pulborough at 11:19. Buy a day return to Amberley.

[If you just miss this train, the 10:06 Brighton train overtakes it and you'd have a sporting chance of catching it at Gatwick Airport.]

Trains back from Amberley are hourly at 20 minutes past.

There are quite a few SWC walks in the attractive area around Pulborough Brooks, and this one hasn't had a Sunday outing for nearly four years. Its relatively short morning section takes you into some gentle hills to the east of Pulborough, where there's a choice of two lunch pubs about 15 minutes apart. If neither of these are up to the task on Mother's Day, you'll definitely be able to get some refreshment half an hour later at the RSPB Nature Reserve at Pulborough Brooks. The final part of the walk takes you through woodland and up onto the South Downs ridge before dropping down into the familiar surroundings of Houghton Bridge, which offers a nice riverside tearoom and a friendly pub close to Amberley station.

You'll need to print the directions from this PDF document. T=swc.09
24 on this walk (including the walk inspector), possibly a winter Sunday record? Weather bright and sunny with a cool breeze in the afternoon. The going was good with only short stretches of mud. The large group gradually split up into smaller ones but most people I think continued past the first pub and a group of us stopped at the 2nd which was packed for a drink and sandwich.Here we saw a helicopter land in a nearby field (bit OTT for Mothers Day?) and we were then treated to the fine sight of four people in their Sunday best picking their way over the field to get to the pub.

We then made our way to the RSPB reserve where we stopped for refreshments which was rather spoiled by the slow service. (I joined the queue with 6 people in front of me and it took me 20 mins to be served.)

Next the long tarmac lane to the hill which we toiled up before setting the pace to catch the 16.20 train which we made easily with 15mins to spare. I wish I'd missed out the RSPB stop and enjoyed a drink at the Bridge but c'est la vie. A splendid day out and good to see "old faces" with tales of their recent foreign adventures.

The Rising Sun's announcement that they wouldn't be able to feed 20+ walkers came as no great surprise on Mother's Day, but the walk inspector had already prepared a cunning plan to get his Sunday lunch. His diligent research had spotted a few shortcuts and one of these got him and three companions to Nutbourne by 12.20, a good 15 minutes ahead of the pack. A tense negotiation with an initially hesitant landlady resulted in a table by the front window and four splendid lunches. Unfortunately we failed to attract the attention of the passing group but I'm sure they would have heartily congratulated us on our stratagem.

Suitably refreshed we then made a little detour to the nearby Nutbourne Manor Vineyard. However, it didn't look as if any wine tasting was on offer so we resumed our leisurely progress to Pulborough Brooks, slowed down by a few squelchy fields and muddy paths. The service in the RSPB Tea Room was no quicker at 3pm but we eventually got to enjoy tea on the veranda, speculating on which artist would have best painted the scene. The dark grey clouds which were now scudding overhead would have enlivened any landscape but they merely reinforced a joint decision to call it a day and head across the brooks to Pulborough (where we were pleased to find that a low embankment had been constructed across an often flooded field, potentially making this route practicable in all seasons). Apologies to the walk author for the numerous liberties we took with his directions, but we all greatly enjoyed our day.
Inn order to lessen numbers at the lunch time pub I did my own version of Pulborough to Amberley. I enjoyed bright sunshine and wonderful view of the Downs. i also managed to get served lunch at the White hart pub.

However the last part involved very very boggy Wild lands and will have to be re written.i was pleased I hadnt taken three unsuspecting Americans with me.

Nobody has mentioned the blocking of the path through the farmyard in paragraph 40 just after the pub in Nutbourne. The field next to it was crisscrossed with electric fencing blocking three walking paths that go through it. Some of the fence was even attached to the footpath signs. There was also a sign warning of a bull in the field though we didn't see it. It seems that farmer doesn't like walkers. We spoke to some locals who said they would raise the issue with the village residents association. We eventually ducked under the electric fences to get back on the route.
In reply to the last comment, I noticed that taking the path through the farmyard (as per the directions) looked problematic and decided to take the more direct footpath going diagonally across the large field. The right of way is well marked with hand painted "Footpath" signs and there are handles with insulation in the electric fences dividing up the field which you lift to get through. This alternative route wouldn't be quite so appealing if there had been a bull in the field, of course.
Wed, 22-Apr-15 Pulborough to Amberley
Wed, 06-Aug-14 Pulborough to Amberley
Sat, 06-Jul-13 17 Pulborough to Amberley
Sat, 07-Jul-12 Pulborough to Amberley
Sun, 17-Apr-11 Pulborough to Amberley
Sun, 27-Sep-09 Pulborough to Amberley
Mon, 13-Apr-09 Pulborough to Amberley
Sat, 26-Jul-08 Pulborough to Amberley
Sun, 06-Jul-08 Pulborough to Amberley