Kirdford is a charming north Sussex village, which in the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries thrived as a centre for the glass-making industry.

Coppiced wood from the surrounding Wealden beech forest was used to fire the furnaces. The widespread iron-making activities of the Sussex and Kent Weald were also an important later part of local industry.

The village has a fine collection of period dwellings situated close to the church, which itself contains examples of early, local glasswork.

The church has undergone, over the centuries, a number of redevelopments, as the local population has increased, no doubt in great measure due to the glass and iron-making industries. Kirdford was also one of the largest parishes in the county.

On this walk we travel around some of the flat, wood and farmland countryside that now makes up this quiet corner of Sussex.

1. From the road junction, close to the village centre, and with the war memorial behind you, head off along the road signposted to Petworth.

In 100 yards, opposite a house called Hannah’s, turn right, onto a footpath between two dwellings, and follow the metalled drive for 300 yards beside paddock fencing.

Just after a cattle grid, and before a gate to Boxalland Farm, leave the drive by taking the enclosed footpath that forks to the left. Follow the path, diverting left through the hedgerow and, at a path junction, turning right along the field edge.

In 250 yards the path bears to the left, enters a copse and crosses a footbridge. Pass through the woodland on a wide path and then enter a small field, following the right edge.

Continue to the right corner, cross a stile and plank bridge, turning left for 100 yards on an enclosed path. At the field corner turn right, passing a path junction in a few yards, and heading towards buildings in 175 yards.

2. At a junction of paths, turn right on the bridleway. In 250 yards, close to Holland’s Heath Farm, the bridleway goes half-left on a track that soon passes through the edge of Holland’s Heath Copse.

At a crossing metalled drive, with a dwelling on the left, take a half-right line on the opposite bridleway – do not take the drive, which is sharply right. (There is an obscured path sign in the hedgerow on the left.) In 150 yards, at a three-way crossing, turn left heading for the edge of Wephurst Furze.

At a junction with a footpath in 400 yards turn to the quarter-right, continuing on the bridleway for 300 yards and then turning half-right in the woodland. After 200 yards the bridleway goes to the left, climbing to a metalled drive and path junction, adjacent to Walthurst Copse.

3. Turn left, descending on the sweeping drive towards the distant farm buildings. Pass the impressive house at Wephurst Park and keep to the drive as it turns right, climbing between the estate buildings. Follow the footpath ahead for nearly a quarter-of-a-mile, finally arriving beside some cottages.

Opposite the last dwelling on the right, locate a stile in the hedge on the left, cross this into a small field, going along the right hedgeline and in 25 yards diverting right into the scrub cover. The path crosses a plank bridge and stile going to the left, then in a few paces turns right, to soon climb a bank on the left.

Follow cleared woodland through undergrowth, beneath power cables in Costrong Copse and, after 200 yards, descend a second bank. The path then goes to the right for a few yards to a bridleway junction.

4. Turn right along the bridleway, now in Wephurst Wood. To the right of the track, in woodland, is the site of one of the glassworks from earlier times.

After 300 yards, the bridleway swings to the right and then left to arrive at a crossing track, with a cottage off to the right.

Turn left along the woodland edge and, in 100 yards, turn half-right to continue on the bridleway. In a quarterof- a-mile, at the end of the woods, bear right along a left field edge to a further junction in 250 yards.

Turn left through a copse for 200 yards to arrive at a gravel drive and four-way bridleway junction; there is a gate on the right leading to Fox Cottage.

5. Turn sharply right next to the gate, along the enclosed bridleway at the side of the cottage.

Take a southerly line for halfa- mile towards a convergence of tracks close to Walthurst Farm, which is to the right of the bridleway.

Continue south for a further half-mile, drawing alongside irrigation reservoirs and maintaining direction. The bridleway follows the right field edge, passing a bordering grove of Lombardy poplar trees and disused farm buildings, beside wide fields, to arrive at the distinctive wooden Chandler’s Barn, on the right of the track.

The bridleway continues ahead into Barkfold Rough for one-third-of-a-mile, veering to the right in 200 yards.

6. At the end of the woodland, beneath power cables, keep to the right on the continuing bridleway to enter Kiln Copse.

At a bridleway and footpath junction, with a pond to the right, turn right on the bridleway.

Just after the pond the path curves to the left to arrive at a concrete drive, with a stable block to the left and a cottage.

Take a few paces right onto the grassy footpath that leads into Boxalland Copse.

In 250 yards the path leaves the copse over a stile and continues between paddock fencing, passing a line of oaks, to a farm drive.

Turn left down the drive, with more oaks bordering the path, towards the prominent buildings of the Normandie Stud farm. Pass between the buildings, leaving through the opposite gates to reach the minor road. Turn right along the verge that leads to our starting point in the centre of Kirdford.

  • Distance/time: Six-and-a-quarter miles taking three hours.
  • By car: Kirdford is on a minor road, three miles west of Wisborough Green. Leave the A272 beside the recreation ground in Wisborough Green and take the first west (left) turn signed for Kirdford on a minor road. Roadside parking in Kirdford. Start point Grid Ref. TQ018266.
  • By public transport: Details from or call 0871 2002233. Bus stop in the village.
  • What's underfoot: Wealden walking on mainly level paths, through fields and woodland. Possible with a baby backpack. Not possible with a baby buggy.
  • Thirsty work: The Foresters Inn and The Half Moon pubs in Kirdford, close to the start/finish point.

For a larger version of the map, see 'related links' above.