I am posting this in Sean's slot, swapped against mine on 21 May SWC Walk 68 (Fully Revised) – Rowlands Castle Circular (the old route is now the short walk)
Length: 25.5 km (15.9 mi), Ascent/Descent: 678 m
Net Walking Time: ca. 6 ¼ hours, Toughness: 9 out of 10
Length: 16.2 km (10.0 mi), Ascent/Descent: 371 m
Net Walking Time: ca. 4 hours, Toughness: 4 out of 10
Length: 29.0 km (18.0 mi), Ascent/Descent: 840 m
Net Walking Time: ca. 7 ¼ hours, Toughness: 10 out of 10
Take the 09.00 Portsmouth Harbour train from Waterloo, arriving Rowlands Castle at 10.21, change onto the 08.45 stopping service (08.52 Clapham Junction): either at Haslemere (different platform) or Petersfield (same platform)
Return trains: xx.46 (87 mins) plus 17.32 (79 mins, not stopping CJ)
This demanding West Sussex walk in the undulating western part of the South Downs is characterised initially by a mixture of park- and woodland, then steep lonely valleys and some far views to the main South Downs Ridge.
It starts off towards Stansted House along a 1-mile-long beech avenue – one of the best in England according to Pevsner, and then heads north along the easterly edge of Stansted Forest and across fields via the hamlets of West, Up and East Marden to a very remote pub in Hooksway, with particularly nice views on the route between the hamlets, including up to the northern escarpment of the South Downs. From lunch you climb back out of the secluded valley on a westerly route to Compton, from where another couple of hills need to be crossed to finish along the westerly edge of Stansted Forest back into Rowlands Castle.
A shorter route around lunch cuts out more than half the effort.
An extension after lunch follows a lonely, narrow, wood-fringed valley to the main northerly escarpment of the South Downs and then follows one of the most undulating sections of the South Downs Way with unrivalled far views from Pen Hill and Beacon Hill, making this a real challenge.
All three routes share the start, up to West Marden, and the end, from Compton.
Full walk and extended walk (especially) feature several sustained, steep climbs and descents. Walking poles may not be a bad idea.
For the walk directions
. For map
, height profile
and gpx/kml files
For details of the tea room and the three pubs in Rowlands Castle check page 2 of the walk directions pdf.