1 - This High Weald walk begins at the Church Road cul-de-sac, which ends in the delightful church of St Nicholas in Worth, a significant building that demands a visit.

The church is famous for its ancient heritage, being a cruciform building dating from the time of Edward the Confessor, a thousand years ago.

The church has the high main walls and apse with massive stone chancel and transept arches which date from the Saxon period.

Built in the vast royal hunting ground forest of Andredswald, around the time of the first millennium, the church was probably a focal point within the wild landscape for visiting royalty, nobility and those who worked the land.

While the main structure of the church is from the 10th century, the inside has a much more contemporary feel, as a result of an extensive fire in 1986, which necessitated the church to be closed and a complete restoration and reconstruction of the roof. It was completed in 1988.

2 - Return through the lychgate to the path junction, close to the Worth Way Country Park information board, and turn on to the signed Worth Way. The Worth Way generally follows the route of the former railway track linking Three Bridges to East Grinstead – the line closed in the 1960’s.

Follow the surfaced track, passing secluded houses and ignoring a left footpath turn in 150 yards, before descending into a shallow, hedgerow-lined hollow. The bridleway then bears right, climbing to the footbridge and crossing above the ever-busy M23.

At the far side of the bridge, turn left and then bear right as the track climbs to follow a more level, eastward direction. Hedgerow and fields now border the bridleway which arrives at Worth Lodge Farm after 200 yards.

3 - At the junction of farm access tracks, continue ahead and then take a few paces left, passing a farmyard and barns, and bear right, passing between two gateposts to resume an easterly direction, soon crossing a bridge.

After about 250 yards, the path bears left and then resumes the easterly direction for 400 yards. On arriving at a junction of tracks, with the Turner’s Hill Road a few yards ahead, the Worth Way turns abruptly left. Our route crosses a stile on the right and enters Worthlodge Forest.

4 - The footpath immediately begins the descent of a flinty track, Standinghall Lane, and the serious woodland begins. The forest is commercially managed, consisting of mixed woodland, with mature pine and deciduous plantations and coppiced areas.

There will be log piles at the side of the track, indicating an active forestry operation – you are cautioned to avoid climbing on the piles and to take note of the restricted access signs.

The well-graded footpath heads south, passing over the undulations of the landscape, with dribbling streamlets and gushing brooks in the shallow valleys. A wide variety of trees are grown in the forest, everything from young plantations of Christmas trees, to mature evergreen and deciduous stands which are close to being ready for harvesting.

After a little over a mile, the track climbs a final slope to come to a three-way path sign and junction. Turn nearly full-right and take the footpath heading north-westerly.

5 - In 200 yards, the wide path bears half-right and in a further 75 yards comes to a fork in the track – there is a signpost on the right, standing in front of an impressive Redwood tree. Take the left fork and pass between the coppiced woodland.

The Worthlodge Forest is part of the earlier extensive forest of Andredswald, which from ancient times stretched across the South-East from an area close to the Hampshire border, over the High Weald into East Sussex.

The area came to prominence in the 16th and 17th centuries as the Wealden iron industry developed, extracting iron ore from the landscape and using the abundant forest to produce the charcoal that was the essential fuel for the process.

The forest has many ditches, embankments and mounds which confirm its use over the centuries as a valuable resource.

The footpath clears the coppiced area, passing between established plantations of mature pine trees.

Keep to the main signposted track, as it is joined along the way by forest tracks coming from both sides. There can also be stretches of standing water in places.

After three-quarters of a mile, the track begins to descend, with the hum of the M23 motorway becoming more noticeable.

6 - The final part of the descent arrives beside a small paddock and the track bears left, with the main road in view ahead. Descend left beside the paddock shelter and cross above the fast-flowing stream.

The watercourses which flow through the forest ultimately enter into the Gatwick Stream – a tributary of the River Mole which heads through the North Downs, close to Dorking, and onward to the Thames.

From the stream crossing, the path climbs to the roadside. Here, bear right across a grass verge, crossing with care over a slip road coming from the M23. Walk over the bridge above the motorway – crossing at a safe point to the opposite, southern, pavement – and continue northward.

The path then passes beside the new houses of the Maidenbower suburb of Crawley and comes to a second roundabout in 400 yards. Cross to the opposite pavement ahead and continue along the Balcombe Road, The Coaching Halt pub and Maidenbower Business Park are opposite. Cross right at the pedestrian crossing.

Turn left up the footpath, which soon leaves the roadside and climbs beneath trees to emerge on Street Hill in Worth. Turn right for a few paces and right again into Church Road and our starting point.

Distance/Time: Three and three quarter miles taking two hours

By Car: Leave the Balcombe Road (B2036) in Maidenbower, 400 yards north of the Maidenbower Business Park, turn into Street Hill, in 250 yards turn right into Church Road cul-de-sac. Start point GR TQ301363

By Public Transport: From Crawley bus station take service 37 and alight close to Maidenbower Business Park, walk north on footpath towards Street Hill, going right to Church Road. Travel details from www.traveline.info or call 0871 2002233

What’s underfoot: High Weald forest walking on well- graded footpaths and bridleways. Standing water on some parts of the trail due to forest working. One stile. Possible with a baby backpack. Just about possible with an off-road baby buggy but you need to negotiate a stile.

Thirsty Work: The Coaching Halt pub at Maidenbower

So you don’t get lost: OS Explorer Map 135, plus a compass for general direction

Click here for a full-sized map of the Worthlodge Forest circular walk