Shipley is a quiet, secluded village sitting in the Wealden flatlands and some distance from any major conurbation. The small habitation is famous for its association with the writer and poet Hillaire Belloc, who lived in the house next to King’s Mill in the village.

King’s Mill is now the prominent landmark in the neighbourhood, lovingly restored by volunteers. On this walk by Eddie Start, we trek the quiet, flat country catching glimpses of foraging animals and a reminder of earlier authority – Knepp Castle.

1 From the centre of Shipley, close to the junction of Red Lane and School Lane and beside a small car park near the buildings of King’s Land, walk west along the road edge, with the miller’s house and mill to the left.

Keep to the roadside for 400 yards and beside Hawthorne Cottages take a half-left bridleway turn from the road through a five-bar gate into a field. Keep direction across the field, passing beside a prominent yew hedge corner and descending to a left field corner. Pass through a metal gate and cross two concrete bridges in the bridleway, climbing to a path junction in 100 yards.

Cross the stile on the left and immediately turn right, over a rail fence stile, following the path through scrub as it turns to the left and crosses a third stile. In the next field, follow the right hedgeline towards woodland in 300 yards.

Enter the narrow stand of trees, cross a bridge, with rabbit warrens in surrounding banks, to arrive at a field edge. Continue ahead for 250 yards to arrive at the roadside in the small community of Whitehall.

2 Turn right along Countryman Lane, passing the scattering of houses and soon drawing alongside The Countryman Inn, an established, rural watering hole in the most delightful setting. Note the pub for a return visit and continue along the road.

Pass a road junction on the right and, in a further 250 yards, just after Smoke House Farm, cross a plank bridge and stile on the left into a field. Follow the left field-edge beside the farm buildings, then turn right for 200 yards to the field corner.

Cross a concrete bridge and turn right for 100 yards, then turn left along a right field-edge for a further 200 yards to pass through a hedge opening and crossing a plank bridge to a footpath junction.

Turn left along the edge of two fields for a quarter of a mile, finally dropping quarter- right to a lower level. Turn right, amongst scrub, over the concrete Pen Bridge and continue ahead for a few yards to take an unsigned left turn through a hedge opening, to a three-way junction at Lower Barn.

3 Turn right, south, on the obvious wide bridleway track that is, on entering between bordering hedgerow in a few yards, also marked by boundary or drainage ditches.

The enquiring walker may well question why such a well-constructed route exists in this quiet area. The track may be one of the ancient droving roads, possibly established in pre-Roman times to move livestock from the uplands of the Downs, out to summer pastures in the Wealden forest. This drove road can be traced on the map to the south and to the north passes through Shipley. In spring, these enclosed tracks have a lovely display of wild flora.

Follow the bridleway for half-a-mile and at a four-way junction take a left turn, leaving the drove road, on to a signed footpath. The path enters a field and veers left beneath trees, crossing a bridge and arriving at a bridleway junction.

4 Turn left along the bridleway in woodland and after 150 yards, close to Bentons Place Farm, take the left footpath over a bridge and head up a right field-edge to the north. Keep to the path, crossing a plank bridge and continue in woodland for about 400 yards to a track.

Turn right, along the track, for half a mile to a path junction, shown on the map as Honeypools Barn.

Turn left and follow the wide track which soon veers to the right, descending to cross a bridge over a pond outfall and climbing towards Hammer Farm. Keep to the main farm track that finally arrives at Pound Corner.

5 Turn right along the minor road, Swallows Lane, and in 200 yards, at a bend in the road, pass through a gate in the left hedgerow to a field. Take a half-right line, passing a lone, midway oak tree, for 250 yards to the far side.

Cross a bridge into a meadow and continue over occasional plank bridges and remains of brick wall structures to the opposite bank. Climb out to a higher field and follow the right fence line for 250 yards up towards the residence identified as Charlwood Barn.

At a surfaced drive turn left, following this for 300 yards to a right turn at New Lodge. Pass by the lodge gate and in a few yards the landscape opens up to reveal the grazed lawns in front of the austere frontage of Knepp Castle. You may well see free-roaming pigs, deer and horses across the parkland.

6 Continue up the drive and in a short distance, beside a sweet chestnut tree, take a half-left footpath line across the meadow, to connect with an estate drive, and turn left.

Follow the drive for 300 yards and take the signed footpath on the left across the parkland towards trees in 300 yards. Pass through a deer gate to a minor road.

Cross to the opposite side, pass through a metal gate beside a cottage and continue along the right hedgeline, through a stand of trees and keeping direction to meet with Red Lane, at the edge of Shipley, in a few yards.

Turn left down the lane, back towards the centre of the village and our starting point in School Lane.

  • Distance/Time: Five miles taking two and a half hours.
  • By Car: Shipley is signed south from the A272, one mile west of the A24, Worthing to London road. Go south for nearly half a mile and turn right into Red Lane, signed for Shipley. Car park in School Lane, next to King’s Land buildings. Start point grid ref: TQ144219.
  • By Public Transport: Details from or call 0871 2002233.
  • What's Underfoot: Level Wealden walking with stiles, plank bridges and some muddy paths. Possible with a baby backpack. Not possible with a baby buggy.
  • Thirsty Work: The Countryman Inn at Whitehall, south of Shipley
  • So You Don't Get Lost: OS Explorer maps 134 and 121 and a compass for general direction.