Monday, 1 August 2011

Stage 16 - Cooks Hill Lane, Bucks Green to Alford Bars 2.6m

When I wrote up the last section in April, I predicted that it would be July before I got to walk the SBP again.  In fact it was actually the 1st August before I found time to do it, and then just a paltry 2.5mile section.  I was staying with Mum and Simon for the weekend, who live much nearer this part of the trail, but it was a very hot day, and as I was going to have to do a linear ‘there and back’ linear walk, I didn’t think the dogs were up to more than 5 miles - hence the very short section of path completed.

The car parked up on Cooks Hill Lane

A barn on Hillhouse Lane
I parked up on the side of Cooks Hill Lane near Wellgrove Farm.  The deer I mentioned in my last post didn’t appear to be there this time so presumably it must have been real!  A half mile walk down Hillhouse Lane took me to the A281 where there were signs welcoming you to Surrey or West Sussex, depending on the direction you were travelling – the SBP is following the boundary very closely here.
Reaching the A281
The road was quite busy and it took a minute or so to cross. In the driveway of a house opposite was a tomato red Chevrolet pickup.

The path through the overgrown orchard
Leaving the road the path skirted an overgrown, rather neglected orchard, before passing through the grounds of the Rikkyo School, the oldest boarding school for Japanese children in Europe.  I  veered slightly off the route whilst walking through the grounds, but only to the extent of walking through a car park rather than on a parallel grassy verge behind some trees, but I rectified this on my return route.
The playing field of the Rikkyo school

Dappled sunshine in the woods
As we left the school grounds, the route took to a pleasant woodland path.  The shade was very welcome on this very hot morning.  As we progressed, some of the paths became a bit overgrown, but the plants were grasses and flowers, not nettles and brambles, so it wasn’t a problem.
Waymarker in the undergrowth

Battling through the 'jungle'
After about ½ mile we reached a path junction and turned left on a byway known as Hook Street.  It was in a pretty bad state, with much evidence of use by 4 wheel drive vehicles.  Fortunately it can only be used by motorised vehicles in the summer and autumn, otherwise I expect it would have looked a lot worse!  We passed a murky looking pond, which Poppy wanted to drink from and Jazz wanted to submerge herself in, but I kept them well away.
4-wheel drive damage on the by-way

Restrictions to motorised use of the by-way
The byway shortly petered out and reverted to a bridleway, where we bore right at a major path junction and continued through a wood called Hope Rough.  After a further 2/3 miles the path left the woods and became metalled where it reached farm buildings.
One of the few views today - NW towards Basset's Copse on the right

Farm buildings
Having emerged from the shelter of the trees, the farm drive was very hot.  There were a couple of water troughs along the route, but the water level was low and it didn’t look very clean so I didn’t let the dogs drink from them.  I had brought plenty of water with me, and as they were clearly thirsty I let them have some of that instead.
Colourful wildflowers on the farm drive verge

'Little Sheaves' on the approach to Alford Bars
Reaching the crest of a small hill, we were now on the final approach to Alfold Bars and there were some nice properties lining the road. One house had a delightful ‘scarecrow’ sitting on the boundary fence.  I’m not sure it would have frightened much away!
Friendly scarecrow in Pigbush Lane
All too soon we reached the B2133, and the end of today’s walk.  Opposite was the Sir Roger Tichborne pub. My old guidebook says that it was the disappearance of Sir Roger that led to the famous (?) Tichborne case, when a 24-stone claimant optimistically asserted that he was the missing 9-stone baronet.
The Sir Roger Tichborne pub, Alford Bars
For such a short walk, rather a large proportion of it was unfortunately on metalled lanes, but the shade of the woodland sections was certainly very welcome today.  Next time I will try to arrange to be dog-free so I can get a decent section done.

The route

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