The ArgusPyecombe circular (From The Argus)

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Pyecombe circular

The Argus: View to Saddlescombe and Newtimber Hill from Varncombe Hill View to Saddlescombe and Newtimber Hill from Varncombe Hill

1 - From the bus stop on the A23 at Pyecombe Street climb the ramp, left, to a farm drive. Turn right, diverting right again through an opening, signed as a cycle path, to arrive beside the footbridge coming from the village. (If arriving by car, park at Pyecombe Street lay-by and cross the footbridge to join here.) Locate the ongoing footpath, descending the surfaced path parallel to the main road, which is down the steep bank on the right. At the bottom of the incline the path continues as a pavement, passing the garage opposite, to a small roundabout on West Road (A281).

2 - Turn left on to the unsigned footpath into Newtimber Holt, now a National Trust site. In a few paces climb the rough steps on the left and at the top turn right on a faintly trodden, unsigned path.

The path follows a generally rightward direction around the contours of the steep, wooded coombe, climbing a number of flights of rough steps and approaching, but never reaching, the top of the hillside.

Keep to the indistinct path, occasionally delineated by bordering tree trunks on the downhill, right-hand side. After about 400 yards, with West Road visible down to the right, the path comes to a crossing bridleway at the bottom of a gully. Cross to the opposite steps, following the contouring path and, climbing left on four steps in about 150 yards, continue through the holt, passing a plank seat.

After approximately a quarter of a mile the path comes to a crossing flight of steps. Climb left up the hill, crossing a stile at the edge of the tree-line.

3 - Climb ahead for ten yards and turn right, following the hillside path above the tree-line that skirts around Newtimber Hill. The path follows a southerly line across the rise and fall of the hillside to open meadows and low earthworks, with views west across to the hills above Poynings village.

Continue along the flank of North Hill to a cattle-trodden track and pass through a gate leading to the downland community of Saddlescombe. Take the descending path, right, to a bridle gate and farm drive, with buildings and dwellings off to the left.

From the gate turn right, taking the right fork that leads to the roadside.

4 - Cross the road with care and at the opposite side go left for a few paces, descending a bank and crossing a stile. Turn left from the stile for 50 yards to a fence corner on the right.

Turn right, around the fencepost, and head for the saddle- shaped col 200 yards away, left of the kettle drum-shaped hill that is on the right. From the saddle (is this landscape feature a clue to how Saddlescombe got its name?) descend towards a stile, crossing onto the southern slope of Devil’s Dyke.

Continue ahead into the dry valley, joining a rising path coming from the right – this is the line of the original Roman trackway which led to the harbour at Portslade. Ascend to the top of the hill and when opposite a concrete foundation block, on the right, locate and turn left through a scrub opening to a roadside bridle gate on Summer Down.

5 - Cross to the opposite verge and turn left for 300 yards to take a bridleway turning on the right. Walk ahead for a few yards, noting the cautionary sign about golf balls in-flight, and at a short black and yellow marker post turn right.

Follow the gravel track beside the golf course to the next marker that indicates a quarter-left turning across the fairway towards a clump of bushes. Pass through a gap in a generally south-westerly direction, noting the marker posts, and through the next gorse clump. At the edge of the final scrub cover, note a marker post (blue arrow) and turn left to a track.

Turn right towards metal gates, pass around them, walking ahead a few yards and turning left on to a well- constructed footpath. Stride out along the southerly path for a total of half a mile, ignoring a left turn after one-third of a mile and continuing to a left turn over a stile, opposite the Brighton & Hove Golf Club entrance.

Walk ahead across the field, descending 400 yards to a stile. Continue the descent, keeping left of a power cable post, to the valley bottom and cross a stile to the roadside.

6 - Turn left and walk with great care along the roadside for 250 yards, passing through a gate on the right giving access to a bridleway on to Varncombe Hill. Climb the hill between pastures for half a mile to a junction of tracks.

Do not take any of the side turnings, walk ahead on the wide enclosed track for 400 yards, passing through a bridle gate, and in a further 100 yards take a left branch in the track – there is a marker post (blue arrow) behind a bush on the right of the bridleway. Pass through a metal bridle gate and climb East Hill, between scrub, to a gated four-way junction.

7 - Pass through the gate and walk ahead across West Hill along the right hedgeline. In a quarter of a mile, at a bridle gate in hedgerow, pass through, beginning the descent of Cow Down and branching quarter-right, away from the hedgerow, now on the left.

Follow the trodden path across the meadow, turning quarter-right after a quarter of a mile to a junction of gates further down the hillside. Take the gate that follows the descending right hedgerow to a gate and head for the footbridge crossing the A23 road.

Cross to the far side of the bridge and turn right to gain access to a side path leading to the bus stop, or to return to vehicles parked in the lay-by at Pyecombe Street.

* Distance/Time: Seven miles, taking three and a half hours

* By Car: Pycombe Street is beside the A23 on a minor road. Leave the A273 at the Pyecombe turn-off and head north-west for half a mile to Pyecombe Street. Start point GR: TQ285129

* By Public Transport: Travel details from www.traveline.info, phone 0871 2002233. Stagecoach bus no 17, hourly between Brighton and Horsham, stops at Pyecombe Street

* What’s underfoot: Walking on open access, unsigned woodland paths in Newtimber Holt, with some steep climbs and descents, and slippery steps in places, then onto open downland, with climbs and level walking. Tough going with a baby backpack, care required on steep, slippery slopes and steps; not possible with a baby buggy

* Thirsty Work: The Plough at Pyecombe, or the Saddlescombe Tea Rooms at Saddlescombe Farm (in season)

* So you don’t get lost: OS Explorer map 122, plus a compass for general direction

Comments (1)

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5:10pm Sat 10 Mar 12

Bennett says...

Is there any possibility of getting a copy of photo from Varncombe Hill as we live at Saddlescombe Farm and from this picture can see our cottage.
Thanks Colette
Is there any possibility of getting a copy of photo from Varncombe Hill as we live at Saddlescombe Farm and from this picture can see our cottage. Thanks Colette Bennett
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