East Grinstead Walk

East Grinstead Walk

by Robert Veitch

Find a couple of hours at the weekend, some good company and head out on our wild goose chase, hunting meridian markers in East Grinstead.

To mark the Millennium, meridian markers were installed across East Grinstead, most notably in stone. With my nephews Jago (11) and Benjamin (7) who preferred to be called ’Jamin, we set out to bag a few.

Leaving East Court car park, walk south past the playground and memorial lawn on the right. Continue to the junction, before turning left into Estcots Drive and walking downhill, past College Close. Marker #1 is against a fence.

Cross the road safely and find #2 in the hedge opposite. Head back up Estcots Drive, turning left into College Lane at the top. Continue across the bridge, over Beeching Way and the old railway line.

The path narrows a little where the stone wall runs alongside it, disappearing completely when peeling left into Old Road. Dropping downhill and around the bend, marker #3 will be against the wall on the left, just after the pair of tall pine trees.

Jago and ‘Jamin wanted to know more about the meridian. The prime meridian is the line of O° longitude which passes through Greenwich. It’s the line from which global time is set, and known as GMT or Greenwich Mean Time. Standardised time evolved during the 19th century, replacing ‘local time’ on the expanding railway network. Standard time means clocks showed the same time across the UK, although Lands End remains 22 minutes behind Greenwich on solar time.

Follow Old Road to its junction with Lewes Road. Cross by the traffic island on the right and walk towards the town centre. Marker #4 is imprisoned behind railings, next to a silver birch. Walk uphill to the mini-roundabout then turn left into Fairfield Road. Round the corner and 150m further on, marker #5 is against the wall, under railings.

Continue onwards to Lewes Road. Turn right and then right again for the Forest Way, which is well signposted. Walk to the next road, Herontye Drive. Turn right and wander downhill, finding #6 about 250m further on, tucked up in a hedge on the right, adjacent to a lay by.

Richmond Way, following the sweeping curves uphill for a little over 200m until a green oasis appears on the right. Marker #7 is on the right, by a gate that leads to a small playground. “It’s a yellow gate,” noted ‘Jamin, “so it’s easy to find.” Jago was already on the swings, “these are good, I can swing really high.” Leaving the playground, turn right into the woods, downhill, right again at the split and past the pond on the left. Emerging at York Avenue, cross to the grass opposite and walk back to Herontye Drive and Forest Way.

Follow the former railway into the trees, over the sandstone bridge, taking the right hand fork where it splits. Jago and ‘Jamin enjoyed visualising steam trains from generations past. Follow the path into the subway under Lewes Road, which contains artwork from the local school. Jago thought, “the pictures are cool” while ‘Jamin was eager to know where the next marker was. The underpass greets daylight in Warburton Close. Bear right, then left into Bourg-De-Peage Avenue. Walk north, past the school all the way to the end and the junction with Estcots Drive.

Cross safely and turn right, ambling downhill for 50m, before turning left for the playing fields. If you have energy to burn, there’s an adventure playground in the trees on the left of the car park. Beyond the car park, follow the road through the parkland and woodland of East Court for 1/3 of a mile, to the end.

At the end, turn right and walk downhill to the zebra crossing, turning right onto the footpath, then immediately right onto the access road. Follow this road as far as the target-shooting club on the right. Marker #8 is difficult to spot because it’s a white metal ‘O°’ that can only be seen through a gap in the corrugated fence just beyond the clubhouse.

Wander back to the zebra crossing. Cross the road and walk up the two sets of steps opposite. Follow the path over the next zebra crossing, turning left at the zebra crossing immediately after. Find your way across the car park towards the council offices at East Court.

The remaining eight markers are all close by – this is how we ticked them off. To the left of the buildings is the millennium beacon, which is marker #9. Down the slope from the beacon, in the corner of the car park, tucked up in the coniferous hedge is marker #10. Walk back towards the beacon and the 11½ tonne ironstone monolith is marker #11.

Marker #12 is a plaque set in the ground across the far side of the terrace at the rear of East Court. From here, find your way past the war memorial and down the grassy slope on the other side. Markers #13 and #14 are a pair of lime trees, both with small green plaques just above head height. Marker #15 is at the base of the two tallest conifers, where the land drops away. Across the gully journeys end and marker #16 resides in the brambles.

We wandered back to the car. ’Jamin was enthralled, “I’ve been in the middle of the world.” Jago felt educated, “it was interesting to learn about standard time, I think anyone would like this walk.”

  • Distance: 3½ miles
  • Walk Time: 2 hours
  • Meridian Markers to locate: 16
  • Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 135
  • Refreshments: None
  • Parking: Free parking at East Court at the weekends
  • Public Transport: Bus Routes: 84 – 270 – 280 – 291 – 400 all pass close to East Court

We are very grateful to Les Campbell for bringing us new and exciting local walks every month, and to Robert Veitch for being Les’ legs whilst he is recovering from an accident. Les is a founder member and former Chairman of the Mid Sussex Ramblers, and insists on testing all routes personally, making sure they are suitable for walking. However, even he cannot guarantee the effects of the weather, or roadworks, or any other factors outside of his control. If you would like to send your feedback about a local walk, please email editorial@sussexliving.com