Main Walk: 15¼ to 18 km (9.5 to 11.2 miles). Up to four hours 40 minutes walking time. For the whole excursion including trains, buses, sights and meals, allow at least 11 hours.
Circular Walk, omitting Petworth Park: 23½ km (14.6 miles). Six hours 5 minutes walking time.
Long Circular Walk, including Petworth Park: 26½+ km (16.5+ miles). At least six hours 50 minutes walking time.
Explorer OL10, OL33 & OL34 (previously 121, 133 & 134). Pulborough, map reference TQ043186, is in West Sussex, 18 km SW of Horsham.
5 out of 10 (7 for the Circular Walk).
Petworth House is one of the National Trust's finest properties but it is not easy to visit without a car. The idea here is that you can do a three-hour walk to the town and spend the afternoon visiting the house or exploring the deer park, then catch a bus back to Pulborough.
The present mansion was built in the 1690s and contains the National Trust's finest art collection, including paintings by Turner, van Dyck, Reynolds and Blake, elaborate carvings by Grinling Gibbons and many classical sculptures. The House is open Sat–Wed mid-March to end-October; admission for non-NT members (2018) is £13.50.
There is no charge to enter Petworth Park, landscaped by Lancelot “Capability” Brown in the 1750s and widely acknowledged to be one of his finest creations. Seen from the house, the gradual transition from the parkland with its lakes and clumps of trees to the woods in the distance looks entirely natural but required an immense project to achieve. It is open all year round from 8am to dusk.
Petworth Cottage Museum at 346 High Street is a Leconfield Estate worker's cottage restored and furnished as it might have been in about 1910. It is open Tue–Sat afternoons and Bank Holiday Mondays from April to October; admission (2018) is £4.
Petworth is of course the highlight of the walk but the route from Pulborough across the Wealden Greensand is not without interest. You start by heading north across some low hills where you might see racehorses being put through their paces, and continue under the gaze of a tall brick folly, the Toat Monument. The route then heads west to cross the River Arun at Pallingham, where it was once joined by the Arun Navigation. The Wey & Arun Canal Trust are gradually restoring this and the canal which linked it to the River Wey at Shalford – an important transport link between London and the South Coast in the 19thC – but a glance at the abandoned waterway will show you the scale of their task. The rest of the morning section is on potentially muddy paths across wooded hills, interspersed with more open sections giving views of the South Downs and the High Weald. Eventually you emerge on a hillside with a dramatic view of Petworth across an open valley.
After lunch in Petworth you can do as much or as little walking as you wish, depending on what else you choose to do in the town. Three suggested routes through Petworth Park are briefly described but you can of course wander freely around this deer park.
For a longer outing you can complete a Circular Walk back to Pulborough on a more southerly route between the A283 and the Rother valley, with views of the South Downs along the way. This is a mixed landscape of farmland and wooded commons, with Hesworth Common being particularly attractive. The route passes two fine old churches at Fittleworth and Stopham, and crosses back over the River Arun on the medieval Stopham Bridge. The final 4 km are the same as the Amberley to Pulborough walk (#39).
If you want to shorten this option you could take the bus to or from Fittleworth or Stopham, where the afternoon route meets the A283 (see Transport below).
There is a half-hourly service from Victoria to Pulborough (hourly on Sundays), taking 1 hour 15 minutes.
There is no station in Petworth but a direct bus route along the A283 to Pulborough station. Stagecoach 1 runs hourly (Mon–Sat) and two-hourly (Sun & BH) up to about 7pm from Market Square in the town centre.
If driving, the station car park at Pulborough costs £5.75 Mon–Sat, £2.15 Sun (2018).
Take the train nearest to 09:10 from Victoria to Pulborough (or 09:40 if you don't mind a late lunch).
There are no refreshment places on the walk route until you reach Petworth, after 12 km. There are two pubs near the town centre which offer similarly up-market lunch menus: the refurbished Angel Inn (01798-344445) has a beer garden and serves food up to 2.30pm; The Star (01798-342569) has a patio area on Market Square and serves “classic recipes with a creative twist” up to 2pm (3pm weekends, possibly later). Some of the cafés and tearooms in the town (like Tiffins: see below) also do light lunches.
If you are visiting Petworth House you could have lunch in its Audit Room Café and/or tea in its Servants' Hall Coffee Shop, which are open until 5pm on days when the house is open (and to 3.30pm on some extra days in winter, when the NT shop is open).
If you want some refreshment after walking around Petworth Park there are several tea places in the town such as Tiffins Tearoom (01798-344560) in the High Street, which is closed Mon & Tue but otherwise open until 5pm (4pm Sun in winter).
The suggested place to stop for refreshment on the Circular Walk is the White Hart (01798-874903) at Stopham Bridge, a picturesque spot by the River Arun 2¼ km before the finish. There are some fast food shops near Pulborough station (and the taxi office has been known to sell hot drinks and cakes), but if you have a long wait for a train you could make a short detour to the Banyan Tree (01798-874141), an Indian restaurant with a bar & café.
After the walk, we would love to get your feedback
Out (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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The directions for this walk are also in a PDF (link above) which you can download on to a Kindle, tablet, or smartphone.
Click the heading below to show/hide the walk route for the selected option(s).
Click on any option to show only the sections making up that route, or the heading above to show all sections.
- Main Walk (15¼ to 18 km)
Click on any section heading to switch between detailed directions and an outline, or the heading above to switch all sections.
- Pulborough Station to Hill Farm Lane (2 km)
- Hill Farm Lane to Pallingham (3 km)
- Main route
- Alternative route
- Pallingham to Bedham Lane (2 km)
- Bedham Lane to Kingspit Lane (2½ km)
- Kingspit Lane to Petworth (2½ km)
- Route to Market Square
- Route to Petworth House ¦ Church
- Notes on visiting Petworth House (NT)
- To Market Square
- Around Petworth Park (3¼ to 6 km)
- Upper Pond route (3¼ km)
- Lower Pond route (4½ km)
- Shepherd's Lodge route (6 km)
- Petworth to Haslingbourne Lane (2 km)
- Route from Petworth House ¦ Church
- Route from Market Square
- Haslingbourne Lane to Hesworth Common (3¼ km)
- Hesworth Common to Fittleworth Church (1 km)
- Fittleworth Church to Stopham Bridge (3 km)
- Stopham Bridge to Pulborough Station (2¼ km)
Turn left out of the station and take the footpath on the other side of a chainlink fence up to a lane. Turn left to cross the railway and bear right onto a track heading north past Old Place. Go across fields and The Gallops to Hill Farm Lane.
After leaving the station building, do not go down to the road but instead turn left towards the main car park. Immediately after passing a small bicycle shelter, veer right onto a public footpath on the other side of a chainlink fence, heading NE, with the car park on your left and a service road to an industrial estate on your right.
In 300m this footpath comes out onto a lane and you turn left, crossing over the railway. In 75m, where the lane curves round to the left, bear right to head N on a track past an attractive stone house, Old Place. You soon go past an old mill pond (opposite the converted mill, now a cottage) and looking back to your right you can see another imposing house behind the pond, Old Place Manor1.
After passing the buildings at Middle Barn Farm keep right as indicated and go up a grassy track, which leads into a large field. Continue along the field edge, with a tall hedge on your left. At the end of this hedge go past a warning notice and straight across a large field, with no clear path.
On the far side of the field go past another warning notice and watch out for racehorses as you cross The Gallops2, then other horse training areas through a series of gaps in the hedges. Keep ahead towards some farm buildings, passing a landscaped quarry down on your left. Go through Hill Farm to reach a lane (Hill Farm Lane), with a distant view of the Toat Monument3 ahead on the horizon, 1¼ km away.
Turn left briefly onto the lane and then right onto a footpath. Go past Littlehill Copse and then head west to join the Wey-South Path at Coombelands Lane. Head north and west on this path to reach the River Arun at Pallingham.
Turn left onto the lane, heading W. In 100m turn right and go over a stile onto a footpath going steeply downhill through trees, then between fields. In 350m turn left at a path T-junction and follow this potentially overgrown enclosed footpath between fields for 700m, with a few stiles and gates along the way.
As you approach some houses the path goes through a wooden gate where you turn left as indicated to go around two edges of a field. At the top corner go through a gate and bear left across a gravel drive to come out onto a lane (Coombelands Lane). Turn right and head N on the lane for 500m, initially downhill and then climbing gently after crossing a stream.
At Pickfords Farm turn left onto a tarmac driveway leading to Sheepwash Farm, signposted as a public bridleway. In 400m turn right in front of the farm gates. In 150m this driveway splits into two: the left-hand fork is a private drive to Lock Cottage but the right-hand fork and the stile between them are both rights of way.
The main route crosses a water meadow which could be very muddy or even flooded in wet weather, so a slightly longer but easier alternative is given.
For the direct route, go over the stile onto a pleasant grassy path through a meadow. After passing Lock Cottage down on your left the path turns left onto a raised boardwalk over an overgrown ditch, the route of the abandoned Arun Navigation4. On the other side turn right and follow a faint path across the water meadow to a stile in the wooden fence 200m away, about 100m to the left of the line of trees on your right. Cross the stile and turn left onto a fenced track.
For an alternative route, take the right-hand track. In 300m, after passing some derelict farm buildings, follow the path round to the left at a junction. The path goes through a belt of trees and then crosses the abandoned Arun Navigation4 by the hump-backed Pallingham Bridge5. Continue along a fenced track between water meadows, in 100m passing a stile on the left (the direct route).
Cross the River Arun6 on a footbridge and then a backwater on a more substantial brick and stone bridge. Go up to a broad track, with Pallingham Quay Farm up to your left.
Take the footpath heading west past Pallingham Quay Farm, which goes around a large field. Go through a copse to join a bridleway heading south. At the top of a hill turn right to head west past Springs Farm to Bedham Lane.
Go across the track (slightly to your left) into the corner of a field and continue briefly in the same direction, with a hedge on your left. In 50m the right of way is to turn left, going through the hedge via a footbridge over a ditch, but more simply you could turn left at the end of the hedge. On the other side make for a pole carrying overhead cables (near the end of the hedge, across an earth track used for exercising horses), going past it into a very large field.
Turn right to go around this long field edge, initially heading W and gradually curving round to the left. Ignore turnings into the wood on your right (including a public footpath after 500m), but at the corner of the field 50m later go over a stile onto a woodland path, heading S.
Keep ahead where the footpath crosses a woodland track, then go over a stile and turn left onto a bridleway. Follow this uphill in a slow curve round to the right, soon passing the attractive Lane End Cottage on your right. 200m past the cottage, turn right at a three-way signpost and go through a wooden gate into the corner of a large field.
Keep ahead along the field edge, heading W and soon with fine views of the South Downs on your left. In the next corner go through another gate into the top corner of a long narrow field, sloping down to the left. Follow a grassy path slightly left down the slope to the opposite field edge, then up the slope on that side of the field.
In the top corner go over a stile, with Springs Farm off to your right. Ignore a footpath into the wood on your left and follow the farm track as it heads W for 400m to a minor road (Bedham Lane).
Turn left briefly onto Bedham Lane and take the footpath heading south-west through a wood. Turn right at a path junction to head west, eventually passing a huge sand pit at Bognor Common. Turn right onto a lane going down towards Riverhill, then take a footpath going north-west near the edge of the wooded Flexham Park. Turn left onto a bridleway to meet Kingspit Lane at its junction with Riverhill Lane.
Turn left briefly onto Bedham Lane. In 25m ignore a driveway on the right (signposted as a footpath) but almost immediately turn right off the lane at another footpath signpost to head SW through a wood. In 200m turn right at a signposted path junction, then 25m later bear left to go downhill. At the bottom of this small valley keep ahead past a pond and up the other side, at first with a wire fence and then an old stone wall on your right.
At the top keep ahead along a track, heading W with farm fields on your right and patches of woodland (some recently cleared) on your left. In 200m the track goes into a wood and you immediately bear right onto a narrow woodland path, as indicated by a footpath signpost. At the end of the wood go over a stile and continue along a field edge towards another wood, still heading W. Go over a stile in a wire fence and take the path half-left into the wood.
In 200m continue on the broad track ahead (slightly to the right) at a four-way footpath signpost in a clearing. Follow this track for 500m, with a huge sand pit (Bognor Common Quarry) just behind the belt of trees on your right, until you reach a tarmac lane.
Ignore the footpath opposite and turn right onto the lane, steeply downhill. At the bottom ignore another footpath on the right, cross a stream and go uphill. Where the lane makes a hairpin turn round to the left, bear right at a footpath signpost onto a broad track into a wood.
In 100m, where the main track curves down towards some houses, bear left onto a woodland path climbing gently and heading NW. In 350m keep ahead at an oblique path crossing, but at the next crossing 250m later turn left onto a broad track, marked as a bridleway. Follow this uphill for 100m to come out at a road junction, with a minor road on the left (Riverhill Lane) joining Kingspit Lane on a bend.
Head west into the wooded Brinkshole Heath and cut through it to a footpath running along its southern edge. Follow this footpath out of the wood, over a small hill and into Shimmings valley. Take either of the two footpaths going up the other side of the valley; one leads directly to Market Square in the town centre, the other to St Mary's church and Petworth House.
Go straight ahead across Riverhill Lane and briefly join Kingspit Lane, heading W. Before the road bends left and starts to go downhill, cross over carefully and take a potentially muddy track into a wood, still heading W and with farm fields behind the trees on your right. In 200m ignore a driveway on the left opposite Montpelier Farmhouse, but 75m later fork left onto a track.
Go straight on at path crossings for the next 400m, until you come to a T-junction with a wider track. Bear left briefly onto this track. Ignore a fork to the left and then turn right at a path crossing onto a public footpath, as indicated by a yellow arrow on a post. Follow this track near the edge of the wood for 300m, with occasional glimpses of the distant South Downs on your left.
Where the main track bends right at a corner of the wood, fork left onto a narrow and potentially overgrown path downhill through trees for 250m, heading W again. At the end of the path go over a stile into an open grassy area and aim to the left of a clump of trees up ahead on a small hill. As you go over the brow of the hill there is a fine view of Petworth 1 km away on the other side of Shimmings valley, with the town dominated by its large parish church and (directly behind it) Petworth House.
On the other side of the hill there is a tall hedge ahead. Aim well to the left of the church; where the hedge zig-zags right and left there is a fieldgate leading into another field. Go through this (or a wooden kissing gate on its left if locked) and head SW down the hill, now with another tall hedge on your right.
There is a choice of routes across the valley, with the (less obvious) route to the town centre taking you past a choice of refreshment places. The alternative route in §5b is better if you want to go directly to Petworth House.
About halfway down the long hedge bear left at a three-way footpath signpost and go across the grass as indicated towards a short line of mature trees. Continue alongside them (passing a footpath marker post) down to a concealed stone bridge across the stream at the bottom of the valley. On the other side go straight ahead up the steep slope.
At the top go across a footpath running along the rim of the valley and take the lane going uphill into the town, passing the Catholic church. Soon after joining the A283 you come to the Angel Inn on your right, the first of the possible refreshment stops. The Star is 200m further on, where the main road (now New Street) turns into Market Square. There are other cafés and delis in the surrounding streets.
If you are not visiting Petworth House but want to explore the deer park, go to §7.
Stay alongside the hedge until it turns sharply right, then keep ahead across the grass towards a small stone bridge at the bottom of the valley. Cross the stream here and take either of the two grassy paths up the slope towards an exit in the top right-hand corner.
At the top go through a gate onto a tarmac path going uphill into the town, passing the ruins of an old church in a cemetery on your left. After joining a lane you come out onto the A272 in front of the imposing church of St Mary the Virgin7. Turn left onto the main road and keep right at a junction to go past the churchyard entrance. The Church Lodge (town) entrance to Petworth House8 is straight ahead.
To visit Petworth House, use the Church Lodge entrance. As well as the house itself, visitors have access to some waymarked walks in the partly-wooded Pleasure Grounds to the north of the house, separate from Petworth Park. There is a gate leading into the deer park outside the north-west corner of the house.
The National Trust car park (and main visitor entrance) is nearly 1 km north of the town off the A283, but there is a pedestrian entrance near the town centre.
If you are starting from Market Square, follow the brief directions below.
The Audit Room Café is just inside Church Lodge and the Coffee Shop a short distance along the main corridor through the Servants' Quarters.
As well as the house itself, visitors have access to some waymarked walks in the partly-wooded Pleasure Grounds to the north of the house, walled off from Petworth Park.
There is a gate leading into the deer park outside the north-west corner of the house. The leaflet given to visitors includes a park map with suggested routes, similar to the ones described in the next section.
If you visit the park and show the sticker given to you on arrival you can re-enter the grounds at the gate, then leave the house via the town entrance. Alternatively, pick up the directions at [•] in §7 to leave via Cowyard Tunnel.
If you want to head straight back to Pulborough on the Circular Walk you can pick up the directions in §8a. Otherwise, follow the directions below to the town centre.
Opposite the churchyard entrance turn off the main road into the cobbled Lombard Street, which leads into Market Square. The bus stop is just off to the right, in front of the Town Hall.
Note that there is a one-way system through the town and Bus 1 to Midhurst also uses this stop; for Pulborough you need to take Bus 1 heading for Worthing.
If you have time to look around the town go down to the far end of the square, crossing New Street and going past The Star pub and the United Reformed Church. Follow High Street round to the left, passing Tiffins Tearoom. Petworth Cottage Museum is just past the junction with Middle Street.
If you are returning to Pulborough on the Circular Walk you can pick up the directions in §8b. Otherwise, make your way back to the bus stop in Market Square.
Go up Lombard Street to the A272 in front of the church. For Petworth Park, follow the main road away from Petworth House and round the east end of the church. Bear left past NT offices to find Cowyard Tunnel leading into the park. Take any route through the park, then retrace your steps through the tunnel, along the A272 and down Lombard Street to Market Square (and along High Street if you want some refreshment in Tiffins Tearoom before catching the bus or completing the Circular Walk back to Pulborough).
This section contains some suggested routes around the deer park for walkers who are not visiting Petworth House.
With the parish church on your left, follow the main road away from Petworth House and keep left at the junction with East Street. The road narrows and you need to take care where the pavement on the left ends. About 100m past the church bear left into The Cowyard, with a “Pedestrian Entrance to Park” sign. Keep to the right of the National Trust offices and go down to a yard with some old outbuildings. At the bottom turn left and go through Cowyard Tunnel into Petworth Park.
You can obviously wander anywhere around the park and the suggestions here are intentionally sketchy. As a minimum you should aim to go around Upper Pond, for the classic view of the house beyond the lake. You can extend this basic circuit as far as Lower Pond, or all the way to Shepherd's Lodge at the far end of the park.
After emerging from the tunnel, start by climbing the slope ahead of you towards a clump of trees. Continue along the higher ground for about 500m, soon with the serpentine Upper Pond below on your left. From the third clump of trees you can see Lower Pond ahead, 600m away.
Turn left to go down to the fenced enclosure surrounding the end of Upper Pond. Keep it on your left and continue around the lake.
Keep ahead and join the wide grassy path heading towards Lower Pond. Turn left there and then fork left onto a path initially heading SW, which curves left around a small hill with more clumps of trees. Bear right in front of the fenced enclosure surrounding the end of Upper Pond and continue around the lake.
Keep ahead and join the wide grassy path heading towards Lower Pond. Go past it and then fork left, gently uphill. Either go all the way to the far end of the park (in the trees about 800m past Lower Pond) and turn sharp left in front of the lodge onto the driveway, or take a short cut by forking left after 500m and turning left again at the next path crossing: this grassy path eventually merges with the driveway on its long route around the west side of the park.
All routes lead to the driveway going past the southern end of the lake, with the house ahead on the left. Bear left to go diagonally across the grass and back to the tunnel; its entrance is about 100m to the left of the house.
[•] Leave through the pedestrian tunnel and go up the main road towards the parish church. Just before the junction with East Street, Bartons Lane on the left is one of the routes out of the town.
Make your way onto the footpath heading south-east along the top of Shimmings valley; either via Bartons Lane from St Mary's church, or via the A283 (Angel Street) from Market Square. Where the path returns to the A283, cross over onto a driveway leading to the top of Sheep Downs. Take the footpath heading south along the top of the downland, then across a farm field to the road at Haslingbourne.
Depending on where you end up after your exploration of Petworth, choose the appropriate route out of town (preferably the opposite of your inward route).
With the parish church on your left, follow the main road away from Petworth House and keep left at the junction with East Street. Cross the main road carefully into Bartons Lane, with a wooden notice-board on the first cottage on the right, Coach House9. Keep left as you follow the lane downhill.
After the last house continue on a tarmac path, passing the ruins of an old church in a cemetery on your right. As the path comes out into Shimmings valley follow it round to the right, with fine views on your left. In 200m go past an old wooden turnstile and keep ahead at a path crossing, where the other route joins from the right.
From the south-east corner of Market Square cross over the A272 (New Street) and go past The Star pub and the United Reformed Church. Follow High Street round to the left, passing Tiffins Tearoom.
With Petworth Cottage Museum up ahead, turn left into Middle Street. At the next junction turn right onto the A283 (Angel Street). After passing the Angel Inn bear left down a lane, passing the Catholic church. At the bottom of the lane turn right onto a signposted footpath, joining the other route.
The path runs between a wooden fence and a high garden wall for 100m, then goes past an old turnstile and comes out onto the A283. Cross over this main road carefully and take the tarmac driveway just off to the left, signposted as a footpath and heading E. In 200m, where the drive bends left to go down to a large house, keep ahead alongside a wooden fence. In a further 50m turn right to stay alongside some back gardens, now heading S along the top of Sheep Downs.
Ignore paths going down into the valley and keep ahead at a crosspaths at the end of the gardens. In a further 100m go through a wooden kissing gate and keep ahead across an open area, gradually curving right and more or less following a line of overhead cables. In the far right-hand corner go through a wooden kissing gate in the fence and turn left to continue along the edge of a large field, directly towards the South Downs.
At the end of the wood on your left go through a wide gap in a hedge and keep ahead across another large farm field, aiming for a house on the far side which comes into view as the field starts to slope downhill. Go over a stile to the left of a wooden fieldgate and down the driveway between the house and its garden. At the bottom go through a side gate beside its electrically operated main gate to a road (Haslingbourne Lane).
Cross the road and take the footpath opposite through a small meadow. Continue past an isolated house and head south across farm fields. Turn left at a path T-junction to go past another farmhouse and across meadows to a lane. Head south-east on the lane and then take the footpath heading east past High Hoes to reach Hesworth Farm. Turn left and go uphill on a lane into Hesworth Common.
Cross the road carefully (slightly to the right) and go through a wooden kissing gate. Head SW across a meadow and go through another kissing gate on the far side to join a driveway running along its right-hand side. Pass to the right of a house on a fenced path leading into a large farm field and go straight across this, heading S. On the far side keep ahead along the left-hand side of a hedge separating two more large fields to reach a T-junction with a farm track, 500m from the house.
Turn left onto this track to head E towards another isolated house, 250m away. Go between the house and some outbuildings and continue in the same direction alongside a hedge. At the end bear right across a small patch of grass to another hedge in front of a stream and turn right to walk alongside it on a faint grassy path. Keep the hedge on your left for 250m until you go over a stile and come out onto a lane at a bend.
Turn right onto the lane, initially heading SE and going gently uphill. In 350m turn left onto a broad track, with a footpath signpost and a road sign for High Hoes. Follow the main track round to the right to head E, ignoring a footpath forking left into a wood. In 500m, shortly after passing High Hoes on your right, the track curves right and comes to a path junction. Bear left to head E again, now gently downhill towards some farmhouses.
Follow the track past a house and then an attractive pond on your left. Where the track bends left, bear right across the grass and go over a stile beside a metal fieldgate. Turn left on the other side to continue along the edge of a field, with a hedge on your left. In 200m go through a wooden kissing gate and follow the path through a belt of trees. Go to the right of a hedge and continue alongside it for a further 300m.
In the corner of the field bear left onto a narrow (and possibly overgrown) path which leads you past a house to a lane by Hesworth Farm. Turn left onto the lane and follow it uphill and round to the right. Keep left at a fork, still climbing. Where the lane makes a hairpin turn round to the left, keep ahead on a footpath into the wooded Hesworth Common.
Follow the public footpath heading north-east across the wooded common, then veer left up to the trig point. Leave the common near the junction of the A283 and B2138 and take the footpath alongside the main road to Fittleworth church.
There are many paths across this attractive common. The suggested route takes you to the trig point at its summit and leaves at a car park near the junction of the A283 and the B2138. If you get side-tracked onto a different path you might come out at another exit, 200m to the south-east. In this case head north-east down a lane past a few cottages to come out opposite the exit from Fittleworth churchyard and pick up the directions in §11.
Just inside the common, ignore a path to the left and follow the main path down a slope, then gently uphill through ferns and trees. In 250m keep ahead at a footpath crossing, still heading NE and joining the Serpent Trail10 for the rest of the route through the common.
The path narrows and then climbs more steeply up a small gully, at the top of which there is a clearing with a bench on the right. For a better viewpoint, however, turn sharp left and then fork right onto a sandy path climbing through the heathland, heading away from the South Downs. The path climbs to the highest point of the common, where there is a trig point and a bench in front of some trees.
Continue on a path behind the trig point going down through the trees. This bends right and soon meets a wide path in front of a deep gully, with the A283 beyond. Turn right and then fork left onto a path which gradually descends and comes to a car park near the junction of the A283 and the B2138.
Bear right through the car park and continue briefly on a footpath alongside the B2138, then cross the road onto a signposted footpath running parallel to the A283, just off to your left. In 100m follow the path as it zig-zags right and left past a brick scout hut and continue down its driveway to Church Lane, with the churchyard opposite.
If you want to catch a bus back to Pulborough, turn left onto the lane and then right onto the A283; the bus stop is round a sharp right-hand bend.
Go through the churchyard and turn left briefly onto the B2138, then bear left onto a footpath going past houses and a school to Fittleworth Common. Head east through the wooded common, near its northern edge. Cross the A283 and take a footpath and then a bridleway looping round Walters Plantation to Stopham church. Return to the A283 and head south-east on the road, branching off by the entrance to Stopham House to cross Stopham Bridge.
If you have taken the bus from Petworth, follow the main road back round the sharp bend; turn left into Church Lane and go along it to the churchyard.
Enter the churchyard and follow the tarmac path past the church of St Mary the Virgin11. At the far end of the churchyard turn left briefly onto the B2138. Where the pavement ends, bear left off the B2138 onto a footpath past wooden barriers and take the left fork in front of Orchard House. In 200m cross a residential road and continue on the path opposite. In 150m follow the path across a stream and round a few sharp turns to enter the wooded Fittleworth Common.
The most direct route is to bear left just inside the common onto a narrow footpath running alongside garden fences but the route described below is easier to follow.
Keep ahead on the main path into the common. Where this splits, take the left fork and then turn left onto a wide level path through the trees, heading E. This gradually approaches the garden fences on your left and eventually merges with the footpath alongside them. Keep ahead up a small incline, at first with a tall hedge on your left. Continue along the boundary of the common for 250m as the path bends left and drops downhill to meet the A283.
Cross the main road carefully and go onto the footpath opposite into a wood, ignoring a stile offering an alternative route to the right. In 50m fork right and follow the path where it turns right to head E, with a wire fence on your left. Keep ahead where a footpath joins from the right and again 100m later where a bridleway joins from the left. Follow this track for 500m, eventually passing a few houses and joining a lane at a bend.
Go straight ahead on the lane towards an old manor house and keep right at the road junction ahead. The main route continues down this lane for 300m to the A283, but after 75m a short detour across the green on your left will take you to the attractive old church of St Mary the Virgin12, which is normally open.
At the A283 turn left and follow the main road downhill and round to the left. In 400m the pavement on the right-hand side of the road becomes a tarmac path and you pass the ghostly ruins of a lodge house in the trees on your right. After crossing the entrance to Stopham House the path leads you over the medieval Stopham Bridge13 to the suggested tea stop, the White Hart.
Cross the A283 and take the Wey-South Path along the edge of a wood for 1 km, then down to Park Farm. Take the footpath heading east to Coombelands Lane and continue along this road. Immediately after crossing the railway, turn right onto a footpath leading to Pulborough station.
Go up a short pathway between the bridge and the pub to the A283. Cross the main road carefully and take the bridleway climbing steeply into a wood. In 500m keep to the main path where it veers right and left to stay near the edge of the wood. In a further 500m, now with a noticeable hill on your left, you come to a bridleway signpost at a path junction.
Unless you want to detour up the tree-covered Park Mound14 (there is a path to the top about 30m further on), turn right at the path junction. The track goes gently downhill past a house and garden to a tarmac lane by the entrance to Park Farm. Cross over the lane and turn left onto a short path leading into the top corner of a field by a WWⅡ pillbox. Turn right and go down the right-hand field edge. At the bottom turn right onto Coombelands Lane, in 300m rejoining your outward route by Old Place.
Follow the lane round to the right and over the railway, then immediately turn right onto a tarmac path which takes you back to Pulborough station. Unless you want to detour into the town for some refreshment before the journey back, make your way around the left-hand side of the station building to reach the platforms. Go under the tunnel to Platform 1 for trains to London.
The nearest place in the town centre (to the left at the bottom of Station Approach) is the Banyan Tree bar & restaurant, about 300m away.
- Old Place Manor was built around 1450 and has a large medieval hall. Old Place was part of the farmstead of the manor house.
- The Gallops are used by horses at the nearby Coombelands racing stables, owned by the Harwood family.
- The Toat Monument is a six-sided tower built as a memorial to Samuel Drinkald of Toat House, who fell from his horse and died near here in 1823.
- The Arun Navigation (the southern part of the Wey & Arun Canal) extended the reach of trading vessels upstream to Newbridge Wharf, near Billingshurst. It joined the river downstream via a lock which has now been incorporated into the garden of Lock Cottage.
- Pallingham Bridge was restored by the Wey & Arun Canal Trust in 1976.
- Pallingham is the tidal limit of the River Arun and its history as an important transport link is reflected in the names of two local farms, Pallingham Quay & Pallingham Lock.
- St Mary the Virgin, Petworth dates from the 13thC but has been much altered over the centuries. The sandstone base of the tower is 14thC but the top was added in the early 19thC.
- Petworth House is surprisingly close to the town centre. Medieval manor houses were usually built next to the parish church but in later periods mansions of this size were nearly always located on more private sites (or the neighbouring village re-sited).
- Coach House (with its wooden notice-board warning about damage to property) dates from the early 19thC.
- The name of the Serpent Trail reflects the serpentine shape of its route through the heathlands of West Sussex. It runs for 103 km from Haslemere to Petersfield.
- St Mary the Virgin, Fittleworth dates from the 13thC but the nave was rebuilt in the 19thC.
- St Mary the Virgin, Stopham dates from the 11thC. It has fine 17thC glasswork and impressive brasses commemorating many generations of the local Barttelot family.
- Stopham Bridge was built in 1423, replacing an earlier wooden bridge. The central arch was raised in 1822 to allow barges to pass. The bridge was still being used by traffic until the new A283 road bridge was constructed alongside in 1986.
- Park Mound on the left of the bridleway is the site of a motte and bailey fortress, built shortly after the Norman Conquest.
» Last updated: May 28, 2018