Posted on Leave a comment

Barcombe Mills River Ouse Swimming, water quality update

Barcombe Mills River Ouse Swimming Update, Water Quality

Thank you to the many people who “liked” or commented on my post on facebook on walking and swimming at Barcombe Mills near Lewes.

There were a couple of people who said they believed that the river was “full of raw sewage”.

I didn’t believe this was possible but I can understand the fear as the River Ouse is in the area of the Southern Water Authority which has just been massively fined for river pollution in Hampshire. So I’ve tried to find the truth about this.

Ouse supplies drinking water
The South East Water Company website points out that 65.000 people in Mid Sussex depend on drinking water drawn from the River Ouse. Obviously the water is treated first. They monitor the quality of the water in the Ouse at 32 catchment points.

Barcombe Reservoir is alongside the Ouse in the area I suggested for swimming.

More info from

The experience of actual swimmers
The general verdict is that the water quality is fine for swimming though not drinking. Feedback on the Wild Swimming website includes reports from people who have been swimming in this stretch of the Ouse for many years without coming to harm. Link to the Wild Swimming website for more info:

Details of the walk, if you missed it, can be found in my last post, see below.

Posted on Leave a comment

Angmering Park Woodland – walk – ride

Monarch's Way track

Easy three and four mile walks and rides through attractive woodlands, with plenty of opportunities to extend routes.

Angmering Park Estate is situated in the middle of Sussex between Worthing and Arundel. There are well surfaced roads or good tracks for most routes.


Start at the Dover Road car park off the A27 road. No toilets or refreshments here or nearby.


See maps below and have fun with the different views, eg tracks or satellite view, zooming in or out.


We have heard that deer are often seen in this area. We saw just one fawn when we walked here mid April 2021.

Space for about 40 cars in the Dover Road free car park, open between dawn and dusk
We had never seen so many wood anemones in one place before. They carpeted the ground in their millions in several areas
Wood anemone close up
Great for cycling
Cycling on the Monarch's Way section, a private road and public bridleway

Interactive map

TO MAKE THE MAP WORK click on “plotaroute” at the bottom right. Then you can

  • zoom in to see other paths, for example to extend or vary the routes
  • view full screen by clicking the four headed arrow,
  • view satellite or cyclable route etc views by clicking the down arrow next to the route type label (top right)
  • show down hill sections in green, uphill in orange and steeper uphill in red by clicking DISPLAY, then “Hilliness”
  • show current weather and for next days by clicking Menu, “Weather”
  • print the map by clicking Menu, “Print”
  • download the map by clicking Menu, “Download”

Please share your comments or experiences - the first comment box works for facebook users, otherwise please use the second comment box

Happy walking and riding,

David Roberts,

Please share my posts.

14 April 2021

Posted on Leave a comment

Storks and piglets at Knepp Estate 2021

Storks and piglets at Knepp Estate 2021

A pair of storks on their nest, 23 March 2021

Storks, for the second time in 600 years, are making a nest in Britain, and you can see them at the Knepp Estate in West Sussex.

The Knepp Estate is a large farm that has been “rewilded”, allowed to revert to nature with a little help  – the introduction of wild deer, cattle and wild ponies and an old breed of pigs, the Tamworth. There are 16 miles of public and permissive footpaths within the Knepp Rewilding project, which cover an area of 3,500 acres, and five tree viewing-platforms. So you can wander a long way. However, your experience will not be like going for a normal country walk. There are no “views” in the usual sense of the word. You will want to stop to watch or look out for wild animals.

We last visited on Tuesday 23rd March and there were still sections of some tracks that were very wet and boggy.

However, we found the tree with the  storks’ nest. You are not allowed to approach the tree so you need binoculars to see the storks.

And we found a Tamworth sow with a litter of piglets. The sow was happily destroying the field with her snout.

At one point the piglets ran a hundred yards away from their mother and rooted around on the far side of the field where they were watched by a family before running towards us.

Tamworth piglets on the Knepp Estate

Knepp Location

You find the estate a few miles south of Horsham, just off the A24 at Dial Post. You can also enter from the village of Shipley. No entry charge. You just use the public footpaths. See my interactive map below.

Car park

The estate information includes “We have a small car park and ask for a donation of £5/day to help manage costs and to raise funds for our project.  Payment can be made at the shop during opening hours (Saturday & Sunday, 10am till 3pm), alternatively in the honesty boxes at the carpark.

Please park here: 
Knepp Safaris, New Barn Farm, Swallows Lane, Dial Post, RH13 8NN  and nowhere else on the Estate or village roads PLEASE as it is destroying the verges and compromises road safety.”

What have you discovered at Knepp?

Let me know what you have discovered at Knepp. Please use the comment boxes. If you use facebook you can use the second comment box without further formalities. Please share.

David Roberts.

TO MAKE THE MAP WORK click on “plotaroute” at the bottom right. 
Then you can

  • zoom in to see other paths
  • view full screen by clicking the four headed arrow,
  • view satellite or other views by clicking the down arrow next to the route type label (top right)
  • show current weather and for next days by clicking Menu, “Weather”
  • print the map by clicking Menu, “Print”
  • download the map by clicking Menu, “Download”
Posted on Leave a comment

Countryside walks avoiding mud

Path St Leonard's Forest

Countryside walks and rides avoiding mud

Path St Leonard's Forest

It’s the end of February 2021 and it’s been an exceptionally wet winter with an exceptional number of people desperate to get out in the countryside and enjoy some fresh air. Sadly the public footpaths are almost all now deep in mud. But there are a few exceptions!

Muddy path, January 2021


Three Mud-free Walks in Central Sussex

I’m giving details of three mud-free (hard surface) walks that I am aware of in mid Sussex together with maps. One of them is 35 miles long from the Sussex coast and into Surrey so you can choose a section to explore. 
If you would like to add details of more such footpaths in Sussex or other parts of the country please use the comment box to give details.

St Leonard’s Forest  south east of Horsham and mile or two to the west of the A23. Footpath and bridleway.

This walk starts at a small car park holding maybe 40 cars and begins with 1/2 mile gentle climb to point B on my sketch map. The path has a hard surface and is approximately 6 feet wide. At the top of the rise the path turns left and goes dead straight for a mile through quite dense woodland. The path remains wide and there is grassy space to each side before the trees begin. 

At point C there is an interesting seat carved  to display elements of a dragon. This walk does not give you great views but at least the surface won’t pull your boots off at the present time with all the mud about.

The path continues to the north-east but I have not explored this extension. 
A few weeks ago I was wearing wellington boots and I ventured onto the alternative route back and that was boggy in the extreme. I would not recommend it. To get onto this alternative route you double back  to the right at the dragon seat and simply follow the wide track heading roughly South. You will come out very close to point B. 

The Downs link former train track: footpath and bridleway 

This runs for over thirty miles from Shoreham-by-Sea, with the coastal link, north into Surrey. The route runs through pleasant countryside but nothing spectacular and at times you will find yourself walking in a gully with views of bushes or trees to either side and not much more. Nevertheless you are out in the fresh air and getting some exercise.

Henfield walking north and walking south

There is a small car park next to a pub at Henfield. At a guess  I would say it holds only about 8 cars but there are streets nearby where you can park.

The path south from Henfield
view towards south downs from south downs link path
View towards South Downs from Downslink path, south of Henfield.

Downslink paths north and south from the old West Grinstead railway station just by the A272 near Cowfold

The car park here holds maybe  two dozen cars. I think the route south from here towards Partridge Green is particularly pleasant.

Other sections of the Downs link path 
I haven’t walked any of the rest of this long track but I’m sure any section of it will afford decent walking, cycling and riding conditions with little or almost no mud.

Use the hand icon to move the map up and down the length of the Downslink. Click on the green square to see the aerial view.

Buchan Country Park

This is situated to the south west of Crawley and consists of 170 acres of mainly wooded countryside. To begin with, signs of careful management of the environment in the tracks that lead away from the car park take away a sense of being in the wild. However, you are soon in more natural woodland. This area is for walking only.

This wooded area is a continuation of St Leonard’s Forest to the south.

The official website states, “This is a Green Flag Award winning Country Park. Owned and managed by West Sussex County Council, it is a haven for quiet recreation and a variety of wildlife. The waters at Buchan are designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest for the variety of dragonfly species. The park is an ideal place for walking, wildlife watching or enjoying a picnic. We have a permanent orienteering course, 2 way-marked trails and sculpture dotted around the park. The Rangers and the Friends of Buchan Country Park run a variety of events throughout the year. Lose yourself amongst the birch trees, wander around the heath and linger in the meadow.”

Many of the paths here  have a hard surface but there are tracks through  the woodlands which are left in their natural state.

Currently the park is  experiencing high numbers of visitors so you should not travel to Buchan Country Park from outside of the local area (in line with current government guidance, February 2021).

This is an extremely popular walking area so at weekends and weekday afternoons you may be disappointed, parking spaces may not always be available.

Opening hours
Monday to Sunday 8.00am – 6.00pm
The car park, and toilets (access currently limited to one in, one out), are open seven days a week, including Christmas day and bank holidays. There is no need to book a visit.

Ordnance Survey Map

The OS map that covers St Leonard’s Forest, Buchan Country Park and the Downslink disused railway track from West Grinstead to Cranleigh in Surrey is the Crawley and Horsham Explorer Map OL34 (previously 134). It’s available from Amazon. To find it quickly just click this link

Your experiences of mud-free walks

Where would you recommend? Please use the comment box to share your experiences.

David Roberts, 25 February 2021

Posted on Leave a comment

Walk East from Devils Dyke

Walk East from Devils Dyke

Devils Dyke is a extraordinary short valley cut into The Downs ten thousand years ago by the last ice age. It’s five miles north of Brighton. The hill top was an iron age fort.

Most people walk west from the National Trust car park (found just to the north of the Devils Dyke pub) along the ridge of the Downs. There are attractive views from this ridge. You can see the sea to the south, the North Downs to the north (on a clear day) and as far as Chanctonbury Ring (a landmark clump of trees) near Washington in the West.

This view was taken from the car park looking west on Friday 5th February 2021 and is a fairly unusual sight with cloud spilling over ridge and down to the plain and the village of Fulking. The temperature was 5 degrees and when the mist rolled away, which it did in a few minutes, there was brilliant sunshine. The dyke itself is just to the south east of this viewpoint.

Paragliding and hang-gliding are popular here.

There’s a google map at the end of this article and it’s interesting to click on the little dark green rectangle in the bottom left corner to see an aerial view of the “dyke” and the surrounding area. Devils Dyke is just north of Devils Dyke Road which is the road running past the marked Dyke Golf Club.

If you walk east from the National Trust car park by the Devils Dyke pub and onto the hill top you have views north east and south. Recently half a dozen Dartmoor ponies were released in this area. We didn’t see them but you can see a video by Richard Boyd at the end of this post  who captured the ponies running in the snow on 7th February 2021.
The view in the picture above is east towards the hamlet of Saddlescombe.

After only about 200 yards walking due east you have choices. You can walk around the hilltop on the the north or south side of the small plateau. We walked on and down this path which curves north. Ahead you can see Newtimber Hill which is to the north of Saddlescombe.

Even though there had been a long period of heavy rain in preceding weeks this path was dry and easily walked.

If we had continued along it we would have come, eventually, to the village of Poynings with its pub, the Royal Oak. The food is good here and they serve Harvey’s beer. (Currently closed because of Covid lockdown.)

About 100 yards down this path we did a u-turn to our right to descend to the floor of the Devils Dyke valley. This path was very muddy.

The path comes out at the bottom of the hill at the east end of the actual “dyke”, by a style and gate which is just below the centre of this picture. It can be seen better in the close-up in the next pictures.

By this time we were heading south and continuing round to the west, and heading gently up hill. This track is on the south side of the “dyke”. At the western end, the top of the valley, you get to the minor road that leads to the pub. A hundred yards along the road and you are back to the starting point in the car park.

An alternative route from the style is to stay in the valley bottom and then at the end of the valley take the steep climb out of it and up to the pub.

Climbing out of the valley and looking west. The pub is just behind the trees on the ridge, right of centre.

The whole walk, which is quite short, probably less than 2 miles, at a very leisurely pace took nearly 2 hours.


National Trust Pay car park by pub, free to NT members. Avoid trying to come here at what you may guess will be a peak time. Arrive early, arrive late. Enjoy the experience in hostile weather. 10 a.m. on a beautiful Friday in February the car park was less than half full.

There is a toilet next to the pub which is not owned or operated by the National Trust. It is currently CLOSED.

Toilets: This is a major tourist attraction. I think The National Trust, which receives a lot of money from charging the thousands of visitors for car parking, should provide public toilet facilities here, maintain them and keep them open at all times.

Car park: The National Trust  should also prioritise  resurfacing the car park extension to get it back into use. (February 2021.)

More information from The National Trust which owns the car park and hilltop. An interesting website well worth a visit.

Devils Dyke pub, BN1 8YJ  Phone 01273 857 256

Royal Oak pub Poynings, BN45 7AQ  Phone 01273 857 389

David Roberts 8 February 2021

Please consider sharing this post and adding your own information if you would like to add anything in the Comment box. It would be good to hear other people’s experiences.

Many thanks to Richard Boyd for this video.