9:00am Monday 20th February 2012
By Eddie Start
1 - From the crossroads at the centre of Fernhurst go west along Vann Road, passing local shops and houses. After a little less than a quarter of a mile, when beside the Stone Chapel, take the opposite footpath, going left along Hawksfold Lane.
Follow the driveway for nearly half a mile, passing between hedgerow to the entrance of Park House Farm. Do not enter the farm grounds but divert left on to a hedge-enclosed footpath.
On coming to a stile, continue ahead (ignoring a right turning) along the field-edge path to the field corner. Take a few paces leftward through an opening and then turn right (yellow arrow) into woodland. The path descends through woods and climbs to a metal gate at the edge of a paddock, after 200 yards.
2 - Enter the paddock, taking a quarter-left line on a trodden path to the far side, passing through a gate and descending right in woodland between Turner’s Copse and Whitter’s Copse. At the bottom of the incline go left over a plank bridge, turn right, crossing a second bridge and climb left, beside a pine plantation.
In 25 yards, at a four-way crossing, continue ahead on the signed footpath (yellow arrow) between coppice and plantation. On coming to a metal gate, pass into the field ahead, walking down the left edge towards the left corner.
Cross a stile, on the left beside a cottage, and from the four-way crossing turn right, following the track up through Poundfield Copse to a minor road. Cross the road to the opposite surfaced drive and follow this as it climbs towards Birchill Copse, between meadows. As the drive levels off it sweeps rightward and arrives beside Stable Cottage.
3 - Take the footpath that branches half-left, descending beside a meadow on the right and entering woodland. Climb to a junction of tracks and turn right following the path through Northpark Copse and climbing to a sloping, enclosed meadow. Climb to the half-left, up the meadow and at the top pass between trees, with tracks leading off to both sides.
Follow the wide forest track ahead as it winds its way for half a mile through the pine plantation towards West Copse, ignoring a midway right turn-off.
At the top of the hillside on the left of the track is Telegraph Hill, the location for one of a series of semaphore stations established at the beginning of the 19th century to link the Admiralty in London with the naval base at Portsmouth.
4 - The path finally arrives at a marker post and, a few yards ahead, a gate across the track. Turn sharply right and head steeply down through the woodland, to be joined by a path from the left after 300 yards. Continue ahead, crossing a bridge and passing beneath power cables, on the winding, narrow footpath between close coppice.
In approximately half a mile the path arrives at a large clearing, shown on the OS Explorer map as Heathfield Rough, a woodland that has recently been felled. Keep to the left of the clearing and walk around the perimeter, at its far side re-enter woodland. In 100 yards at a three-way path junction, adjacent to Taylors Copse, turn right for 150 yards to a power cable clearing.
Continue ahead beside Hartley Green Copse. Walk past a hide on stilts, on the right of the path and set in a young plantation. In 300 yards come to a clearing and junction with a bridleway.
5 - Turn right on to the bridleway, climbing to a field-edge. Walk ahead along the right tree-line to the far right corner and turn left, beside a railing fence, to a farm drive at Upper North Park Farm. Go left on the drive, descending right into a hollow and climbing steeply up to a three-way path junction.
Turn left to the top of the hill in 150 yards and leave the surfaced drive, going left into a field.
Walk along the right edge, turning right after 150 yards and descending to the bottom right corner. Pass round a gate, continuing ahead beside a pine plantation for 200 yards to a three-way junction. Walk ahead for a few yards and Fernhurst Furnace Pond is seen on the left. A few yards further on and you are walking across the dam wall that holds back the waters. At the far side of the dam the main run-off from the pond flows beneath the bridleway to the remains of the ironworks wheel pits and tailrace. During the 16th and 17th centuries the site was a significant part of the Wealden iron industry. An adjacent information board provides details and a site plan. Go to www.fernhurstsociety.org.uk for more information.
6 - Return to the three-way junction at the south side of the dam, taking the left bridleway turning. The track follows the edge of Furnace Wood, in 200 yards it descends into a deep gully, and climbs out to a field-edge.
Keep to the left edge for 400 yards, descending to the field corner and crossing a stile on the left. Walk along the right edge of a field to the right corner, crossing into a low-lying meadow.
Follow the trodden path to a bridge and climb a gully to take a right turn along an enclosed path at Lower Hawksfold. At the end of the path, beside a metal field gate, turn left along an embankment to cross a stile. Follow the path ahead, cross a footbridge on the right, climbing out, to walk across a meadow to the stile we were at earlier in the walk. Turn left over the stile along the enclosed footpath. On coming to the farm entrance, turn right along the driveway back to Vann Road. Turn right along the road to the centre of Fernhurst.
* Distance/Time: Six and a half miles, taking three and a half hours.
* By Car: Fernhurst is on the A286 road, five miles north of Midhurst, parking behind the local shops in Vann Road, going west from the crossroads. Start point GR SU896285.
* By Public Transport: Travel details from www.traveline.info, phone 0871 2002233. Bus service Stagecoach No 70 between Midhurst and Fernhurst.
* What’s underfoot: Walking on woodland paths with steep climbs and descents, muddy in places due to forestry work. Possible with a baby backpack, care required on steep, slippery slopes; not possible with a baby buggy.
* Thirsty Work: The Red Lion pub in Fernhurst; The Kings Arms, one mile south on the A286 and the legendary Duke Of Cumberland pub at Henley two miles south of Fernhurst (on a minor road) – Pub Of The Year 2012.
* So you don’t get lost: OS Explorer map 133, plus a compass for general direction.
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