Black Down with hills (10 miles)
From: A circular walk from the Black Down Car Park in Tennyson's Lane. The closest postcode is GU27 3BJ.
Length: 10 miles.
Average Walk Time: Around 5 hours.
Terrain: By and large, gently undulating. HOWEVER, Black Down and the Temple of the Winds are on the top of a 280-metre high hill. Most of the walk is at 60 metres. From the start, there is a long (and steep) descent, and the last section is a LONG AND STEEP ASCENT!
Suitable for dogs: Yes.
Look out for: Amazing views at the start and the Temple of the Winds. Wonderful woodland views along the whole of the way.
Leave the car park along a path that parallels the road to start. It soon turns slightly right (South) and gently climbs. Soon, you pass a National Trust notice board welcoming you to Black Down. A metal notice invites you to follow the Serpent's Trail to the Temple of the Winds. Yes, that is the Serpent's Trail that has featured in many recent walks. We can't seem to shake it! 350m from the car park, there is a definite fork in the path. Take the left turning, indicated by a trail disk. The right is the way we come back, so unless you want to walk the route in reverse, go left young man!
Shortly, you come to the Temple, with only a small view-column to mark the spot. Black Down (whose summit you just circumnavigated) is the highest point in West Sussex at 280m. The Temple itself is named after a Bronze Age bank and has nothing to do with any Victorian Folly. Don't get confused with the Temple of the Four Winds near Hindhead, which features in other walks. Anyway, spend a minute admiring the view, but not too many minutes as it's far too early for coffee.
Continue along the path and now comes the steep and long descent. Remember every foot of height lost. Every single foot will have to be regained later, although not on this path. Eventually, you reach a road where you turn left. As the road turns left, head straight, going through a stile in a stone wall next to a gate across a track. When we visited someone kindly opened the electric gate, and we all streamed through after the car. However, I'm not going to promise you will be so lucky.
The path now goes through some manicured parkland, where you continue straight. Ignore the road/track that wants to take you right to Blackdown House. Pass the farm and continue walking. Now comes an important right turn. It is a small footpath on the right and is signed, but it is easy to miss. The simplest way to find it is to look for the woods to start on the RIGHT (they have been on the left for 100m or more already). Immediately after the woods start, the footpath turns off. If you miss it, you will come to a minor road after another 100m. Reverse and look for the path on the left now. But you're not going to miss it, are you?
Follow the new path as it twists and winds, over a couple of stiles and through a small wood (Gentles Copse). After the copse, the path crosses a stile into a field and becomes indistinct, climbing a small hill. You can, if you want, follow the fence to your right. This might be a good coffee stop? At the corner of the fence, turn left along the boundary fence and exit the field over another stile on the right. Walk along a small path for 150m to Upperfold Farm and a minor road. At the farm, turn left. Another 100m, and there's a path on your right. Wander along, soon, by the side of a small stream (or large ditch). Three-quarters of a kilometre and you come to a small road again. A mere 20m along this road (right) and there is a path on the left. This now twists and turns through Verdley Wood, until after a kilometre it reaches a bigger track at a T-junction) where you turn right. 150m and you cross a track (the only place with logs for lunch), another 100m and there's a small road – keep going straight.
Three-hundred metres and here is the only major road on the route. Cross the A286 CAREFULLY. It's fast! Turn right for 100m and then left down the side of Dawes Farm. There is a sign announcing the farm and follow this metalled lane. Cross a small footbridge after 100m and take a half right turn on a path on the right. 400m more and there's a 4-fingered signpost. Turn right here (public bridleway). Half a kilometre and you're back at the A286 which you cross a second time (just as carefully) into a minor road (Miggs Lane). The road quickly wiggles right, left and right again. IMMEDIATELY after this second right (and you're only 100m from the A286) take the footpath on the left, where a stile takes you to the right side of a farm gate. As you walk down this path, look at the hill ahead of you (slightly right). Yes, this is Black Down. Yes, it is as high (and steep) as it looks.
The hill looms nearer and larger as you get closer, but you will soon come to a minor road. Turn left here and walk into the village of Fernhurst. Pause by the cricket club (or at the Red Lion) for a last bit of sustenance, and hitch up your climbing shoes. Everest awaits! The path out of the village is on the right, immediately before the Red Lion (right of the pub). It looks as though you're going into their back garden, but this is the path. 300m more and you pass Tanyard Cottage in the middle of woodland. Turn left here, and almost immediately, the path forks off left again, up the hill (signposted). Up, up, up you go until you reach a T-junction on the track where you turn left to keep the gradient of the climb sensible. A right turn takes you up a steeper path, so go left.
300m more climbing and the path zigs hard back to your right. Climb another 300m, and the path Ts again into another path, where this time you turn left. Reach Fernden Lane, turn left and walk along it for 50m, until a track to Cotchett Farm takes you right. Walk past the farm, keeping it on your left, through a double gate, where the path forks immediately. Take the right fork, yes, that's the one up the hill. This is the steepest part of the climb. Deep breath and GO!
400m of the climb and it's all over. Now that wasn't too bad, was it? You come to a very confusing junction with a very convenient sign to the Tennyson Road Car Park. Just in case anyone has knocked the sign down, it's the path slightly to the right. You're on the home straight now. You pass the path you took this morning on your right and soon your back at the car. Well done.
Thanks to Olivia and Paul from the Farnham Ramblers for leading 23 of us round this lovely ramble. I enjoyed it, scoring the walk a straight 10 out of 10. I hope you will enjoy it too.