Clayton Walk – April 2016
by Les Campbell
This lovely April walk affords stunning views and covers open downland – hopefully adorned with some wild flowers – Jack and Jill Windmills, pretty bridle paths and a Grade I listed church.
This 4 mile walk starts and finishes from the car park at Clayton Green. It initially climbs steeply up to Jack and Jill Windmills, and then follows the South Downs Way to Pyecombe before heading north to follow round the base of Wolstonbury Hill. After the climb up to Jack and Jill, there are no significant hills although there is a moderately steep descent into Wellcombe Bottom. Parts of the route were extremely muddy when surveyed in February 2016 so please be prepared!
At the entrance to the car park, cross Underhill Lane and follow a bridleway uphill to a gate leading on to open downland. Turn right and climb steeply uphill to eventually reach the car park beside Jack and Jill Windmills. Go through the car park, and turn left gently uphill on a rough track, and where the track forks, turn right along the South Downs Way.
Pass through the buildings of New Barn Farm and in 100 yards at a cross paths, turn right downhill on an enclosed bridleway with Pyecombe Golf Course on your left. Pass to the right of the clubhouse and join the A273. Cross this road with care and turn left on a narrow enclosed path which runs parallel with the A273.
Turn right into School Lane and follow this lane uphill towards the church. Just before the church, turn right into the Wyshe and follow this bridleway past houses and a play area. Pyecombe Church is a Grade I listed building and is known as the Shepherd’s Church. The Shepherd’s Crook known as the Pyecombe Hook was made in the former forge situated opposite the church. The church also has a Tapsel Gate which was the subject of a recent feature in this magazine!
The bridleway narrows and becomes enclosed, and leads to a four way junction of paths on the flank of Wolstonbury Hill. Carry on ahead for a few yards, and then go left over a stile and on to open downland. Bear right towards another stile which gives access into woodland. Do not go over this stile, but go left on a chalk track going steeply downhill into Wellcombe Bottom with Wolstonbury Hill immediately in front. Ignore a bridleway coming in from your right and stay on the track and go through a bridle gate with a restored Dew Pond on your left. Dew Ponds were made by farmers in dry hilly places like the South Downs to ensure that their stock had enough water to drink. Wellcombe Bottom used to contain a rifle range but this has long since gone.
The path bears right and goes slightly uphill to a junction of paths. At the path junction turn right, and follow a track downhill past the Warenne and out to New Way Lane. Turn right uphill and follow New Way Lane out to the A273 by the Jack and Jill pub. Turn right to the road junction over the bridge, and cross the Ditchling Road with extreme care. Go through a kissing gate and across Clayton Green to the car park.
- Distance: 4 miles
- Stiles: 1
- Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer Map no. 122/OL11
- Parking: Clayton Green in Underhill Lane off the A273 at the foot of Clayton Hill
- Refreshments: Pyecombe Church and the Jack and Jill pub
- Public Transport: Metro bus routes 270/271