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Summer Walking: Hartfield

As lockdown measures continue to ease, we headed for a delightful bimble around the gently undulating hinterland of Hartfield

From the car park, head north, along the track into Posingford Wood for about 300m, before turning right at the fingerpost by the felled timber. Follow the left hand field boundary to the track, before turning right and walking uphill for 200m.

Cross the all weather canter track via the two gates then walk across the paddock, before crossing the canter track once again via two more gates. Cross the stile, which immediately leads to the road. Look carefully before crossing; drivers will not be expecting walkers to pop out of the hedge.

Once across the road, turn left, and walk towards the traffic for almost 150m, before dropping down the path on the right, by the white stone sign.

The path barrels downhill into Five Hundred Acre Wood, then across a footbridge adjacent to an old boiler. Keep walking through the beeches, silver birches, and other deciduous trees for half a mile to the beginning of the tarmac.

Continue for almost half a mile along the tarmac, before veering left by the fingerpost marked with the ‘WW’ logo. March across the intersection then, while keeping to the right of the gate, follow the path along the left hand boundary of the field, all the way to the stile at Fisher’s Gate.

Turn right and follow the lane north for a mile, passing a pretty thatched house along the way. By the fingerpost marked for the ‘Wealdway + Landscape Trail,’ turn left, climb over the stile and head downhill, diagonally across the field towards Bog Shaw.

The path leads through the woods, emerging by a bridge over the Mill Brook. Beyond the gateway, keep right and follow the fence line on the right, across the field to the distant gate.

Once through the gate, veer left and at the next open gateway, bear left by the three-way fingerpost. “Just look at the glorious colours of the grasses and wildflowers,” noted Claire with a smile. After 300m there is a stile beneath the remains of a dead tree that resembles the grim reaper’s scythe.

Beyond the stile follow the field boundary, alongside the ripening purple haze of flax, or ‘Jimi Hendrix field’ as Claire called it. The next stile leads across a small field to another stile, beyond which is the charming St. Mary the Virgin Church, Hartfield (which is well worth a few minutes exploration).

Turn left and wander past the idyllic properties to the High Street. Turn left, past the war memorial and delightful bus stop. Look up for the clock and down for the 1962 best-kept village plaque. Claire noted the abundance of flowers along the High Street, “Hartfield is still living up to its reputation.”

Keep bimbling along the High Street, bearing right towards Forest Row at the far end of the village. Cross to the south side of the road by the 40mph sign and mighty oak, then walk up the hill along the pavement.

After a quarter of a mile, turn left into the stone entrance by the fingerpost. Take the concrete path behind the wooden gate and the sign for ‘Pooh Bridge’ written in Anglo-Japanese. Follow the path beside a post and rail fence, then a green mesh fence, to the top of the incline.

At the top, turn right and follow the path behind the houses for 250m to the kissing gate and tarmac drive. Follow the drive for a third of a mile, before turning left at the t-junction. 50m later, hop over the stile on the right.

Follow the path beside the blackberries, then into the trees. Ignore the gate marked ‘private’ and emerge at the gate that leads downhill into a field.

At the bottom of the field and the six sleeper steps, cross the stile and turn right. Amble along the wide greenway to another stile, then left down the asphalt track for 100m, turning right by an 8ft high gatepost.

The tarmac path leads downhill to a bench, where we enjoyed some of Claire’s excellent rock cakes and admired the view to Gill’s Lap across the valley. Continue downhill, gradually easing right, then across the footbridge to meet the road at Marsh Green.

Turn left and wander uphill for 350m, following the footpath straight on as the road turns right by the gateposts adorned with horse heads. The path leads through the woods and ferns for 400m, back to the car park, after which it must surely be time to find some well-earned refreshments.