The Sussex Border Path
The Sussex Border Path is an epic journey through great swathes of the English countryside to the South of London. We pass through some of the most popular hiking areas but on a relatively obscure route, not knowing what exactly lies in store ahead. And we’ll be doing much more than the 140 miles or so of the path itself as we turn off at various points to head for the nearest railway station, then out again the next time to pick up the path from where we left off. By the time we have finished next Summer we will be fully acquainted with the the Sussex border country as well as the weekend schedules of the trains to and from London.
Section 2 – 13.2 miles
Note: We are doing this section in the reverse direction from the others. We are starting at Petersfield and walking South back to Rowlands Castle where we finished section 1 as well. Then in section 3 we will start at Petersfield again and continue the trek north-eastwards towards Surrey. I would not normally switch direction like this but it was necessary this one time and has certain advantages.
For the whole of this walk and the next one we are within the South Downs National Park. We do a four and a half mile appetiser before lunch, starting out across the plain on some minor footpaths to reach the Sussex Border Path and then mainly along country lanes, including the extra half mile to the village pub.
See the details about the lunch stop below.
Afterwards it’s the main course of the day – almost 9 miles, crossing the South Downs Way and reaching a high point of 600 feet on the wooded slope of West Harting Down. After a long stretch gradually downhill we emerge from the woods for a steep climb up and over a ridge to the village of Chalton.Then it’s a more gentle ascent to the top of Idsworth Down, another village and another short steep climb before the final descent to the pub and station at Rowlands Castle.
To pack it all in we go at our usual medium fast pace, with due allowance for the terrain. We are crossing over the South Downs, so be prepared for a lot of climbs and descents, including some steep gradients.
There is a £1 charge payable to the organizer on the day.
Full Itinerary with Estimated Timings
Meet Up: Arrive between 8:45 and 9:10 a.m. at Waterloo Station, by the ticket office. I will be wearing the floppy hat and moustache for recognition. Get into groups of 4 for buying tickets.
Buy Ticket: Off-Peak Return to Havant. The price is £29.90 for 1 adult, down to £14.95 each in a group of 4. If anyone at Waterloo fails to get in a group of 3 or 4 and has to pay the full price the organizer will subsidize the ticket by £8 from fees collected.
Outward Travel: 9:30 a.m. train from Waterloo platform 11 to Petersfield platform 2. Arrive at 10:39.
Meet for Start of Hike: From 10:40 to 10:50 a.m. at Petersfield Station.
Part 1: 4.5 miles. Maximum 1 hour 40 minutes.
Lunch: 1 hour stop. We arrive for an earlyish lunch at 12:30 pm at the pub, which has plenty of indoor and outdoor space. There is a Sunday roast and a selection of other main meals as well as soups and starters for those who don’t want a full meal.
Alternatively you can eat your own packed lunch somewhere nearby and come in for a drink. We'll leave by 13:45 or earlier.
Part 2: 8.7 miles with hills. 3 hours 45 minutes.
End of Hike: We may get to Rowlands Castle Station just in time for the 17:33 train to Havant, with a connecting train at 17:50 back to London. More likely, we will miss that one but arrive in plenty of time for the direct train at 18:13 from Rowlands Castle to London.
Post-Hike Refreshment: There is an excellent pub just round the corner from the railway station for a quick drink before catching the train, or a longer drink before missing the train and being obliged to have another. Both these options were experienced by members of the group on the section 1 hike that also ended at Rowlands Castle three weeks earlier.
Return Travel: 18:13 from Rowlands Castle platform 1 to Waterloo. Journey time 1 hour 31 minutes.
Or if in time, the 17:33 from platform 2 to Havant. Arrive at 17:38. Get the 17:50 fast train from platform 1 to Waterloo. Total journey time 1 hour 41 minutes
The same two train journey options are available every hour thereafter.