South Downs: Hassocks to Fulking

A rather ad-hoc route today, chosen largely on the basis that I didn't want to spend too much time travelling at either end. Thus I started at Hassocks, which on a good day I can get to from home in about an hour and a half (although today it didn't work quite so well), and decided to walk to Fulking, mainly because I wanted to see what the pub was like there.

So I started my walk with the now familiar stretch from Hassocks to Clayton, following a footpath which runs alongside the train tracks. It was a hot day, the Saturday of the August Bank Holiday weekend, and very different from the first time I'd been to Clayton, having on that occasion had to walk through freezing rain to get there. I was treated to the view of the Jack and Jill windmills up on the ridge, and decided as it was lunchtime it would be prudent to stop off at the pub of the same name for some sustenance before the main part of today's walk.

My lunch - a vegetable gratin - didn't feel particularly appropriate for the balmy weather, but the cold pint of shandy did, and the pub was very pleasant inside with all the windows open and the warm air wafting through.

After lunch, I took New Way Lane, heading west away from Clayton. A pleasant country lane flanked by high hedges which provided some welcome shade. Where the lane turned to the north, I continued onto a footpath which led me into the woods - again more welcome shade - at the base of Wolstonbury Hill.

Beyond the woods I continued onto the open hillside, taking the climb very slowly given the heat and the lack of shade from here on. This turned out to be a lovely stretch of footpath, one I might never have followed had it not been for today's rather randomly chosen route. It seems Wolstonbury Hill is famous for its flora, and the hillside was strewn with wild flowers, which, added to today's blue skies and far reaching views made for a lovely setting (hopefully illustrated by the photo above and the one at the top of this page), which I had all to myself.

 Over the other side of the hill I then had a fairly steep descent, with the footpath running alongside some chalk pits before passing underneath the A23.

Beyond there I met a flock of sheep very sensibly staying in the shade, before passing through the church yard of St John the Evangelist, Newtimber, one of those funny rural churches which seems to be in the middle of nowhere, with no real village to speak of surrounding it.

Not long after there I reached the outskirts of Poynings, and from here on I could see the downs in the distance, looking particularly majestic today.

I decided to stick to foothpaths rather than following the road from there to Fulking, which might have been quicker, and so headed west out of Poynings, following a pleasant little stream.

Eventually I then turned south for the final stretch into Fulking, with the ridge of the Downs just beyond.

So after walking through the pretty village of Fulking, I ended my walk at the village pub, the Shepherd and Dog. Although in a lovely setting, with very nice gardens, and a very pleasant looking exterior, I can't really say I was my sort of pub - more of a trendy craft beer bar inside, which felt very out of place for such a rural idyll. Still, I had to end my walk somewhere, and thankfully the pub was just about close enough to Brighton that I was able to get an Uber from there to the station, and then the train from there back to London.