The walk then headed through woodland for quite awhile, making this section very reminiscent of what had gone before. Although unremarkable walking, the sunshine and puffy white clouds gave some excellent lighting conditions. Muddy conditions were very much the order of the day for this stretch too, with some fearsome puddles in places (almost lake-like!). I eventually came upon a most unusual sight – a large private school with some very extensive grounds. Judging by how deserted it all looked I reckon that the children hadn’t yet returned from their Christmas vacation, despite being a week into the New Year.
At the other end of the school I crossed the strangely quiet A281 and headed along a
At the end of the lane the path once again descended into the woods, alongside what I took to be a deer farm judging by all the high fences around and the rather miserable looking does hanging out in one corner. The sun made a welcome reappearance here after it had been hiding behind the increasing cloud layer for a time. It shone over the rambling house of Great Inholms, picking its red tiles out really well. The path then took a route across a couple of fields high on a ridge that offered really good views out to the south.
I didn’t realise at the time but this was the hill through which Baynards Tunnel had to traverse. This is was on the long lost railway line from Horsham to
I stopped briefly at the tunnel to have a closer look. Getting down the cutting sides was no easy matter though and I have ran and half slithered to the bottom, making quite a muddy mess of myself in the process. It was just about worth it, although the view into the tunnel itself was quite limited. Beyond the inevitable graffiti was just inky blackness, for the other end of the tunnel has been filled in to allow for a bat roost to flourish. I headed south along the Downs Link path, which turned out to be a delightful section and vindicating my decision to use this route. By now the clouds that had bedevilled my picture taking for awhile drifted off to reveal the loveliest January day I can remember in a good long time.It was remarkably warm (13o C) and even the birds seemed to be fooled into thinking it was an early spring day!
The going underfoot was easy going as this section of the Downs Link is probably one of the best for drainage and surfacing. I reminded myself that this would make for an excellent place to come for a winter family walk with my children. I passed by the site of Rudgewick station, now sadly untraceable like so many other stations on this former railway.
The line crossed the A281 again, this time at level rather than on the bridge that would once have carried the line across the road. A little further on and I came to the famous double deck bridge. This was not originally built this way, but was necessary after the railway inspector insisted that the line was re-profiled as he felt that Rudgwick station was built on a dangerously steep slope. The original bridge was therefore too low and another was built on top. It remains a remarkable relic, even though the line has now been closed for 47 years and seemingly will never return.
Just beyond the bridge I left the line and headed back initially across fields back towards Loxwood. Being wintertime the sun was now disappearing fast and I got a little concerned that I would not make it back to the car park before it got dark. At Tisman’s Common I joined the road back to Loxwood and found that this route back was a mixed blessing. While it provided a quick route and was easy underfoot, I became aware that in the fading light I wasn’t really dressed with appropriately easy to see clothing. Eventually at the first opportunity and a mile and a half later I took a different route down into the woods where I thought that the gathering gloom would be less of an enemy than a speeding car heading towards me.
As it happened this turned out to be a lucky break. The full moon was now high in the sky and lit my way to a certain extent now that the sun had gone. I also managed to find my way back to the Wey and
In the gloaming (I love that Scottish word – it seems so appropriate!) the atmosphere of the old canal was very interesting and serene. I didn’t linger too long though – I was in a bit of a race to get back before it got truly dark. In that I was successful – it was 4.30pm when I got back. A little close for comfort perhaps and I could have done without the scary walk along the road as the sun went down. However, I think I was too hard on myself – as I pulled away from the Onslow Arms, I passed by a youth wearing dark clothes riding a bike with no lights and wearing the biggest headphones I have ever seen. My view of safety is clearly not shared by everyone!
This was a pleasant stretch of the walk, spoiled only by some stretches of really boggy mud that were almost impassable. The section of the Sussex Border Path was infinitely better than the loop route, which was a relief as so often it has been the other way around. Time it right and I reckon the Sir Roger Tichborne looks like a good watering hole on the way round too!