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Surrey Walk
Black Down, West Sussex, from Haslemere

County/Area - Surrey & West Sussex

Author - Peter Smyly

Length - 10.0 miles / 16.3 km

Ascent - 900 feet / 273 metres

Time - 5 hours 50 minutes

Grade - easy/mod

Start - OS grid reference SU897329
Lat 51.088411 // Long -0.720626
Postcode GU27 1DB (approx. location only)

Walk Route Description

Photo from the walk - Black Down, West Sussex, from Haslemere Photo from the walk - Black Down, West Sussex, from Haslemere Photo from the walk - Black Down, West Sussex, from Haslemere Photo from the walk - Black Down, West Sussex, from Haslemere Photo from the walk - Black Down, West Sussex, from Haslemere Photo from the walk - Black Down, West Sussex, from Haslemere
Click thumbnails for larger images.

This is a walk that starts and finishes at the same point in Surrey (Haslemere) but in which the main objective (Black Down) is in nearby Sussex. At 917 feet, Black Down is the highest point in West Sussex. If using your own transport, an easy way to the top is from the car park at the end of Tennyson's Lane from where it is a gentle walk through woodland of a mile or so. This walk route features a longer route which offers more of a challenge and variety of scenery, starting and finishing at Haslemere rail station. Gradients are mostly gentle but there are a couple of sections which are fairly steep in places. The many public footpaths and bridleways on and near to Black Down, along with some secondary roads, means that variations on route possibilities are many. For the most part, altitude is gained gradually.

Black Down, West Sussex, from Haslemere  
Click thumbnails for larger images.

From the station, turn left up the B2131 and cross over to the pavement on the other side. Follow the road ahead which passes Haslemere High Street on the left. Turn off the B12131 up a signed public footpath on the right. This path, bordered by trees and hedgerow, leads up steps to cross another minor road before reaching Scotland Lane where you turn left and then almost immediately right down a signed public bridleway. The path goes down between trees which form a canopy overhead in places and this is one of the two relatively steep sections of the walk. The path leads to a road with houses at the bottom of the hill. Now take the path through trees across the stream on the other side of the road.

At a T junction of paths in the wood, go left and, after walking through the woods for a few minutes, the path emerges into open fields. Continue as far as the sign posts ahead and now go diagonally left back to a tarmac road. Next walk left down the road for about fifty yards and then take a path through the trees by the side of a field to the right. Half way up the sloping grassy field, bear right and head for a kissing gate at the periphery of the wood at the top of this next field. The path continues up through the woods to emerge on the side of another field. At the top of this field, the view has opened up by now, and another gate leads to a path which connects with the Sussex Border path. Initially this section offers no views due to the trees of Chase Wood either side. However, the path soon emerges into the open where there are scattered trees and the yellow flowers of gorse bushes abound. After a few more minutes walking along the clear path ahead, a crossroads is reached where the path to the right leads to Cotchet Farm but the way ahead leads to Black Down.

There is a network of signed public footpath and public bridleways in this area. The only sounds you are likely to hear are the general chirping of birds in the trees and the occasional distinctive sound of a cuckoo. At a T junction of paths, turn left and, passing a pool (a rare sign of water on this dry, sandy heath), the first main view of distant fields and woodland is soon after this with a wooden seat on the right. This is a good spot to stop for a break.

The route continues by following the path back down towards the pool, but before reaching it, turning down a wide path due south. Here again, there is a typically open aspect to the landscape with bilberry plants, yellow gorse and occasional Scots pine trees. The trig point is not particularly easy to find as, despite the proliferation of wide paths and tracks, the one that leads to it is by way of a narrow path, little wider than a sheep track. Perhaps the easiest way to locate the trig point is to bear right from the main north-south part about half a mile short of Temple of the Winds and follow a pathless course if necessary through the bilberry plants and trees. Although the top of Black Down is a main objective of the walk, the view from the top is likely to be something of a disappointment with an open aspect of little merit to the south west but in all other directions, the usual scattering of trees and bilberry plants. A deer appeared briefly, and just as quickly disappeared, shortly before I took a photo of the trig point.

Much better views are to be had from the aforementioned "seat with a view" and from the Temple of the Winds viewpoint quarter a mile further south which is the next objective of this walk, having regained the main north-south path from the trig point. A pool of water at this juncture is a likely drinking spot for deer. The Temple of the Winds viewpoint offers a sizeable stone seat and there is a largely unrestricted view towards the South Downs. The seat was erected in memory of Mabel Elizabeth Hunter, wife of Edward W Hunter, who gave Black Down to the National Trust in 1944.

The descent in a south westerly direction down a path through the trees is the other section which is steep in places, as mentioned earlier. It doesn't last for more than about ten minutes when the bottom of the hill is reached at Fernden Lane and you turn right on to the lane At this juncture, there are various different possible route options to continue the walk. For instance, by following Fernden Lane ahead, you could go back to the station either via Cotchet Farm or Valewood Park. This walk route suggests a more ambitious and longer route via Fernhurst. Take the public bridleway left past Reeth Farm and woods full of bluebells (in the spring) and, turn left at a T junction, head south west, passing on the left a field of bright yellow flowers and cross a stream. Houses and a road appear as the route emerges at a T junction at Fernhurst where there is a pub on the right.

Walk up the tarmac road ahead and, before the road swings round to the left, follow the public footpath ahead, along the edge of a field. Soon, a good view of tree-clad Black Down to the right emerges. Keep following the path ahead, including along a road at one point past private houses, before rejoining woodland, until it reaches a tarmac road where you bear left along the road. At the T junction of the road round the corner, there is another choice between a longer and a shorter continuation route. Turn right to follow the tarmac road past a string of ponds on the left before turning left up to Cotchet Farm. Now continue along the path to the left which now brings you back to the point earlier in the walk where you reached the crossroads on the Sussex Border path. Turn left, therefore to do this bit of the outgoing route in reverse. By way of slight variation, when you get to the next tarmac road, turn right for a more direct approach back by passing Valewood Farm House before repeating the outgoing route in reverse back to the station.

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