Last Friday night, Andy and I decided somewhat last minute to get out of London for the day and do a country walk on Saturday.
We used Time Out’s guide to 30 Country Walks Near London, which is excellent. Every walk featured is accessible from central London by train. Most of the walks listed seem to start with about a 1 to 2 hour train journey, all originating in London, and when you arrive at the destination, you do a walk of anywhere from about 5 to 12 miles, all doable in one day. It seems that all of the walks have various options for shorter or longer distances, include recommendations for pub lunches and tea stops, and bring you back to where you started to board the train back to London at the end of the day. Perfect.
So we chose a walk somewhat at random, deciding to do a shorter walk for our first attempt. We took the train from Charing Cross and one hour later, there we were at a rural train station in Stonegate, in Sussex, which basically felt like the middle of nowhere. The book offers extremely detailed directions (and provides a map, but the map is not very helpful). We set off on a country road, and proceeding to ramble over fields, past cows and sheep, over streams, through woods.
The first half of our walk was about three to four miles of rolling terrain and we didn’t see a single person the entire time, just cows and sheep.
It was glorious: stereotypical rolling English countryside with green fields, blue skies and fluffy clouds. The book’s directions were extremely detailed and pretty accurate and easy to follow, with just a few moments where we had to stop and guess on a few turns. For future walks, especially longer ones, I think I want to get some copies of Ordnance Survey maps just in case.
After about two hours we emerged into a churchyard in the small village of Burwash.
We ambled down the short high street to the lunch destination, the Rose and Crown pub.
This was the most adorable little country pub, complete with old fellows at the bar, low timbered ceilings, fish and chips on the menu and pints of bitter on cask. We had a pint and lunch and soaked up the atmosphere. I didn’t take photos inside because I was trying not to be overly touristy.
After lunch, we continued on the high street and set off for the second half of the walk, through hops fields and along more country walking paths.
The walk looped us back to the train station where we began. We only had to wait about 20 minutes, then boarded a train and an hour later we were back in central London. Unreal.
I loved the the rural countryside and outdoorsy things like this are so easy to get to from the city. It was a perfect day and I can’t wait to work our way through more of the walks in this book!