Stone Cross to Buxted
Distance: 32.0 km
Manor Court Farm B&B at Stone Cross, Ashurst is a first class, spick and span, nice establishment. Comfy bed, powerful shower and hearty breakfast. Sue collects the breakfast eggs fresh each morning from their own chickens. Yes, I would recommend it to my friends.
I was back on the trail by 08:30 and headed south to cross under the railway via the bridge by Ashurst station.
Here, just by the bridge, I found a candlelit memorial to 25 year old soldier Toby Crundwell, who was sadly struck by a train and killed. He had returned to see his family on leave from a tour of duty in Iraq.
The Wealdway meanders here across a flood plain. I crossed many footbridges and passed Summerford Farm to reach the Forest Way Cycle Path, which runs dead straight east-west towards Hartfield. Not part of the Wealdway, in fact it is at 90 degrees to it, but I turned right in search of a shop or similar.
The Forest Way carries on west, but I left it after 2 km at Hartfield and went in search of something to put in my pack for lunch. I found a proper farm shop and stocked up with cheese and biscuits.
Now, I could have backtracked and rejoined the Wealdway but that always seems a bit negative to me so I found a more interesting route on the map, via Withyham, across the fields of the Buckhurst Estate. By the map it looked about the same distance but I missed a turning and ended up a long way up a private farm road, definitely off course.
I was grateful to a farmer on a quad bike with his dog, who came to my aid with local directions. In my defence, the turning I had missed was hugely overgrown and not marked in any way. Once back on track I made good time heading generally south for about 6 km through High Weald and the Ashdown Forest. I passed through the Five Hundred Acre Wood (of Winnie the Pooh fame). I never did find the Poohsticks Bridge but emerged onto heathland just after midday.
A concrete road crossed my track and curiosity got the better of me. I reckoned it had to lead to something interesting, otherwise why put it there. These metal lid things, each about a metre square were set into the ground and quietly humming. When kicked they resonated with a deep ‘boing’ sound. Under the heathland here there must be a cavernous space. A discrete notice explained that this is a Reservoir Transducer Check Manual Measurement Point. It’s not on the map.
It was approaching lunchtime and ahead I could see Camp Hill on the skyline. The most elevated spot for miles around, at 198 metres, this seemed like a good prospective venue for my packed lunch.
Camp Hill Clump has a couple of dozen trees, three benches, nice views over East Sussex and curious cattle wandering about. I had company for lunch but they moved on before I did.
Still heading south, I set off for the village of Fairwarp. This section of the Wealdway has intermittent waymarking and one critical waymark disc has been removed from its post. I followed a variety of tracks and roads which led me to the grand gates of Oldlands Hall near Fairwarp. I investigated the village amenities then carried on towards Buxted. The trail here takes many turns and after about 1 km enters Furnace Wood. This is a spooky, wierd, dark woods. Lots of dead trees and gnarly old roots.
On the far side of the woods is Hendall Manor Farm. Then at Wood Cottage I was confronted by a dog, enthusiastically protecting his territory. He was not interested in making friends so I carried on walking. From here on it was mostly (busy) road walking to Buxted, from where I caught a train back to London and home. Proper in the country, Buxted, only a single, reversible track. And the train pulled by a burbling diesel loco 🙂