Walking Around Felbridge

There are a number of pleasant and interesting footpaths in Felbridge and a footpath map has been published to guide those interested in seeing the area at close quarters. The map can be purchased from the Parish Council and is displayed outside the Village Hall.

 

Each walk forms a loop, one to the north and the other to the west, and they can readily be combined by first completing the northern loop and then continuing across Stub Pond Lane into the western loop, instead of returning to the village centre up Mill Lane.

 

The Northern Loop (4 miles)

Starting at the Star Inn, walk northwards along the A22 footpath  past the Parish Church. On the left, at the start of the Whittington College brick boundary wall, is the site of the old Evelyn Chapel. The location is marked by a plaque set into the return wall but the plaque is obscured by foliage and not easily seen. A little further along the road, to the south of the main entrance to the College, is a statue of Dick Whittington which stood at the Archway, Highgate, for 150 years before being moved to Felbridge. Set into the wall of a nearby building is the sculptured head of a crowned Virgin Mary, the mediaeval Queen of Heaven, which is the emblem of the Mercers’ Company, who are Trustees of the College. Across the road from this point is the village pond.

Continue along the road for about a half-mile and, after passing the entrance to Park Farm on the left, turn right into a clearly marked footpath between Coopers Wood and Pine Crest. This path initially runs between two boundary hedges but soon enters more open woodland where it may be muddy for a short distance after rain; wild flowers are in evidence in springtime. Cross a stream and, when Heatherway is met on the left, keep straight on (N) through mixed woodland for about a half-mile. If you intend returning on this path note on the way the two paths which fork backward (SW) and must be avoided on your return journey. The path runs beside Wire Mill Lake and at the end of the lake turn left (NW) across the weir and continue, passing in front of the Wire Mill Inn buildings. Join the road here by the car park and, after about fifty yards take a footpath (NE) on the right, pass the tennis court, go through the gate, and continue to the line of mature trees. Take the path to the left, cross a stile and a footbridge (NW). Cross a stile into a paddock and follow the field boundary to another stile and follow the narrow path to the Newchapel to Lingfield road (B2028). The Blacksmith’s Head is across the road to the left. 

The route continues to Newchapel crossroads, where the spire of the Mormon Temple is a prominent landmark. Turn left, cross the A22 and follow the footpath (S) for a half-mile past The Peacock to the entrance to Hobbs Industrial Estate. (The A22 is a busy main road, as an alternative, at the Newchapel cross roads follow West Park Road (SW) for about 300 yards and turn left (SE) along footpath 282). At the entrance to Hobbs Industrial Estate take the surfaced track (SW) which leads to the Southern Water treatment works. On reaching the works, take the footpath on the right that runs alongside the boundary fence; at the end of this fence, at the time of writing, a bund was being constructed and the area lacked peace and tranquillity. For the time being the walker should keep the bund on the left and continue in a straight line (SW) to the stile. (When normality returns it is the intention that the path will run along the top of the bund.) After the stile keep straight ahead to the next stile which leads onto a track, turn left (SE) and after about fifty yards turn right and keeping the hedgerow on the right, continue to Stubpond Lane. Turn left and follow Stubpond Lane to the Northeast corner of Hedgecourt Lake.

Hedgecourt is the second of a series of lakes (Furnace, Hedgecourt and Wire Mill) constructed in the days of the local iron industry. Follow Mill Lane along the top of the dam. Below the roadway on the left is the site of the old corn mill with the mill wheel, the shaft and some brickwork lying as reminders of what was once there.  To the right, across the lake in a North-westerly direction, is the seventeenth-century Hedgecourt Farmhouse visible through the trees only in winter. The loop is concluded by continuing past the original Mill House (now extended) and up Mill Lane until Copthorne Road is reached. Turning left along the footpath, the school field and buildings will be passed on the right with some of the magnificent Evelyn chestnuts much in evidence and, at the top of the road, the Star Inn is regained.

 

The Western Loop (3 miles)

Starting again at the Star Inn, walk westwards along the Copthorne Road, (A264), keeping to the right fork at the village green and turning into Mill Lane, about one-third of a mile further on. Continue down Mill Lane, past Hedgecourt Lake and up the incline, and take the footpath on the left (SW) behind the houses. Keeping the hedge on the left turn left, then right and at the far end of the field left again where the path leads down to the lakeside. You may notice hereabouts several fallen tree butts, some of theses are attributable to the 1987 storm, others to the excessively high water level which was maintained in the lake during the 1980’s and early 1990’s. The view across the lake to Little Hedgecourt on the other side has been opened up. Follow the lakeside to the woodland, turn right and cross a narrow strip of land, which in times past would have provided access between the lake and the field to the north.

Cross the stile and follow the path (SW) with the Crawley Mariners’ boat park on the left. At the end of the boat park, turn left (S) into the woodland and follow the track which in the wetter areas is raised on duckboards. This twelve acre site is managed by Surrey Wildlife Trust and is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Walkers interested in the conservation of habitats may wonder how the boat park and the club house came to be built within the Site of Special Scientific Interest. Where the path divides keep to the right and continue (south of W) on a clear track over more duckboards. The path turns (S) over a third length of duckboards and finally leads to the right over a footbridge to the Copthorne Road again.

The traffic is fast moving along this section of road so, taking care, cross the road to the footpath and follow this to the left (E), round the back of the wooded island, past the entrance to Furnace Wood and continue past Dove’s Barn and the nursery. Just before a group of houses take the track on the right signed to Michaelmas Farm (previously Mile’s Farm). Pass through a gate, past The Homestead on the left and after passing through the gate to Michaelmas Farm, cross the stile immediately on the left and follow the path (SE) with the hedge on the left.

The path now follows the county boundary in a South-Easterly direction for a third of a mile. Continue to the far corner of the field, and crossing the footbridge and stile, enter woodland; there is another stile where the path leaves the woodland and enters a field. Bear half right to the field boundary and follow it, if you are observant you may see the recently restored shooting box beyond the trees on the right. Continue to follow the field boundary, past the paddock gates, to a stile in the southern corner of the field, and after one more stile you join the Crawley Down Road. Turn left into the road which has a footpath in places, and shortly the line of Evelyn Chestnuts will appear on the left-hand side of the road.

 Walk under these, past the sports field, the bowling green, the village hall, the new school buildings and the old school house, across the village green into Copthorne Road and back to the Star Inn.