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West Sussex Walk
Worth Way from Three Bridges, near Crawley

County/Area - West Sussex

Author - Jean Blemings

Length - 14.0 miles / 22.8 km    Ascent - 1100 feet / 333 metres

Time - 8 hours 10 minutes    Grade - moderate

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Walk Route Description

Photo from the walk - Worth Way from Three Bridges, near Crawley
Click image to visit gallery of 12 images.

This is a very versatile walk based around the first half of the Worth Way a disused railway line that runs between Three Bridges near Crawley to East Grinstead. The walk consists of 3 loops and here is described from Three Bridges railway station but the walk or parts of it can equally well be picked up from Worth village itself, car parking at the disused Rowfant station on Wallage Lane or from Crawley Down at the most easterly point of the walk. The loops can be walked in isolation or with some or all of them strung together and would be suitable for young children and families. However it is possible that in the future the Worth Way will be developed as an access road to new housing - so get out and walk it whilst its still there !!

From the main exit of Three Bridges railway station turn right and walk round under the bridge carrying the railway line. Keep bearing round to the right up Station Hill so you are walking along the pavement by the side of the road running parallel to the rail line running south. After ignoring the first footpath sign on your left across the road you will see the cycle path with a Sustrans marker and signing to Maidenbower. This is the start of the Worth Way. cross over the road and take the cycle path. Follow the blue cycle path signs to Worth/East Grinstead ignoring any paths off to housing at either side and the way is clear for a mile or so but where the Worth Way is signposted off to the right continue on through a kissing gate along the footpath continuing along the old line of the railway (If you take the Worth Way signing you will still get to Worth church but using a path to residential roads - you may wish to consider this route if the footpath is rather muddy).

Taking the footpath option continue on until you come to a steep wooden flight of steps leading up onto one of the old railway bridges. Climb up the steps and turn right to walk over the bridge and into a fairly modern but pleasant housing area. Maintain the same general direction through the houses following the footpath signs but where the road swings more sharply round to the right look for a hidden footpath sign by a large conifer tree which directs you along a narrow fenced path. This emerges back onto the Worth Way just beyond Worth church. To visit the church now turn right but to continue on the walk turn left and continue on along the Worth Way. (If you are doing the whole walk there is an opportunity to visit the church at the end of the walk without backtracking).

The Worth Way now takes you on a road bridge over the M23 and wends its way past Worth Lodge farm and eventually emerges onto a B road where you walk parallel to the road for a few hundred yards (just prior to reaching the road you pass a stile on your right leading down into Worth Lodge wood - this is the start of the southerly loop mentioned later in the walk but for a shorter option you could walk this loop now and return to Worth church)

After passing the whitewashed building on your right named Keepers Cottage, the Worth Way goes off to right but to continue the walk cross over but continue up the B road walking on the grass verge until the road bends round to the left. Here look for a rather hidden footpath sign that directs you along a grassy path. Take care not to go up the private driveway to Compasses Lodge. Follow the path but where there is a definite fork take the left fork which is confirmed as the footpath by a hidden waymark. Walk along several field edges until you reach a farmyard complex (Ley House) where you should take care to follow the well marked route that jinks through the buildings.

Eventually you come to a somewhat staggered crossroads where you need to turn right, now following a good tarmac gravelled track. You will shortly pass the head of a lake on your right with the buildings of Rowfant Mill to your left. Continue on in the same direction ignoring a footpath to the left where the path doglegs past the incongruously named Old Rowfant. Continue on along the track with a polo field and the flight path into Gatwick airport (some 4 miles north) on your left. When you reach a T junction of paths at Home farm (with some interesting old buildings) turn right to pick up the Sussex Border path (SBP) now travelling south.

Follow the path down through a wooded area ignoring another footpath going off to the left and this soon leads you into the grounds of Rowfant House where the path is well waymarked and leads you out through the grand stable yard gateway past the front of the house and along the main driveway. Just before the driveway emerges onto the road the SBP diverts through the shrubbery past a lodge house emerging back out onto Wallage Lane. (To reach the parking area near Rowfant station turn right instead of left and follow the road for a short while till you reach the Worth Way and station building - this is one of the suggested starts points if you only wish to walk part of the walk). For the main walk turn left and walk carefully along the road edge until you see a footpath sign across the road where you turn right walking up past an electronic gate leading into Rowfant works. You are now back on the Worth Way again. If you have walked for long enough you could turn right and follow the Worth Way back to Three Bridges but to continue the walk turn left and continue onwards to Crawley Down a mile or so away to the east. Shortly before Crawley Down you pass beneath an old bridge with much bracing that carries the continuation of Wallage Lane above the disused railway track. Here you can notice red staining of the rocks that bears witness to earlier iron working in the area. As you enter Crawley Down you pass a parade of modern shops that were the old site of Grange Road station.

Pass by these shops and if you need refreshment there is a handy pub diagonally opposite. The Worth Way continues onto East Grinstead heading onwards in the same direction but to continue on the walk turn right and walk past Kiln Lane. Do not follow Grange road around but take the "No Through Private Road" option directly ahead signposted as still on the route of the SBP.

You walk past various quite grand properties including The Grange on your right. When you come to a footpath junction leave the SBP and turn right to take the footpath option which leads you on along the lane but eventually veers off before you reach Sandhills farm onto a shady sandy track leading downhill before it starts to climb again. By a couple of isolated buildings you come to a T junction where you should go right. You soon reach a new looking concrete access road which you cross over and then shortly after look for a path signed off to your right. This path was partially blocked by several large skips but you can squeeze along past them and then you come to a larger area with lots of smaller skips. Follow the waymarks through and there is a stile to take you onto a pleasant grassy path flanked by bracken that eventually leads you onto the road running through the village of Turners Hill.

Turn right and walk up the road at some stage endeavouring to cross over as you are looking for a path signposted off to the left just after quite a dangerous blind bend. Again the footpath sign is slightly hidden but directs you to skirt around a gate and walk up the side of a house and its extensive unfenced garden. Go through another gate and you are on the access road to a grass covered reservoir. Where this road bends around to the reservoir, look for a signpost directing you onwards to a stile entering Hundred Acres wood. Keep to the signed path through the wood ignoring any deviating paths to the right. Eventually you come to a fence line on your left which you then follow to bring you out onto the access road to Rowfant works.

Turn right and walk down towards the electronic gates where you rejoined the Worth Way earlier in the walk. This time turn left along the Worth Way travelling back in a westerly direction. Stay on the Worth Way for a good mile or more crossing over Wallage Lane and walking behind the car parking area by the disused Rowfant station (mentioned earlier in the walk description).

Continue on for what can seem like a long stretch until you eventually emerge back onto the road by Keepers Cottage (again passed earlier in the walk) and retrace your steps on the way parallel to the road but this time heading in the opposite direction. Follow the Worth Way off the road to the right but almost immediately look for a stile to your left leading into Worth Lodge Forest. Take this footpath and follow the very clear track through the woodland for a couple of miles. Do not deviate from the path as the warning signs confirm that this is a working forest landscape as the frequent log piles by the side of the track confirm. This is a very peaceful stretch and you may hear the tolling of the bell at Worth Abbey further to the south. After a long couple of miles as the track climbs steadily but gently upwards look for a signpost showing a path off to the right and bearing slightly back on itself. Take this path and follow it. It is very well signed and leads through varied woodland including coppicing and conifers until it eventually emerges onto an access road by the side of the M23.

Use the access roads and the road bridge carrying the B road to cross over the motorway and then carry on walking up this road, now in the outskirts of the Maidenbower area of Crawley. Cross over another roundabout and where the pavement ends cross over the road using the pedestrian crossing and take the cycle path that leads away from the bigger road to skirt along the side of a residential road now heading through the area of Worth to Worth church. This links back up with the Worth Way and you need to turn slightly to the right to visit the church.

All that remains now is to follow the Worth Way back to Three Bridges station. (You can either follow the signs westwards from the church through the residential area of Worth leading to the boundary of Pound Hill where you rejoin the railway track proper or you can walk on past the church to rejoin the footpath route you took at the start of the walk and pick up the Worth way from there.

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Walking in West Sussex

West Sussex lies in Southern England and offers a variety of scenic interest including Wealden, downland and coastal. The highest point of the county is Blackdown, at 280 metres (919 ft). Over half of West Sussex is protected countryside including part of the South Downs National Park and the Chichester Harbour AONB. The most important long-distance footpath is the South Downs Way National Trail.

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