This is a calming walk through quiet green meadows and woodland, with one or two surprises, especially the church at the tiny village of Itchingfield. This walk is taken with permission from www.fancyfreewalks.org.
1. Directly opposite the pub, take a narrow path signposted as a bridleway. In 200m or so, you reach a 4-way fingerpost. Turn right here, still on the bridleway. Where, in 80m, you reach a tarmac drive, go straight over through a bypassable small wooden gate on a woodland path. On your left is Muntham House, now a school for boys with special needs. Ignore a crossing path at a 4-way fingerpost. After 700m on this path, you come through a patch of woodland and through the remains of a small wooden gate to the right of a larger wooden gate on a drive coming from the school. Avoid a track sharp left and keep straight ahead on an easy straight track. In 230m, you come to a 4-way fingerpost. Turn left here over a stile into a meadow. (The track also leads onwards to Itchingfield but the route chosen for this walk is a series of lush meadows giving you a sudden surprise encounter with the church.)
2. Walk along the right-hand side of the meadow with great views left to the South Downs and some solitary rugby posts. At the other side, cross over a farmer’s path and immediately turn very sharp right and left to go over a stile and a 2-plank bridge with handrail. Go along the right-hand side of a grassy field and, at the other side, keep ahead through a wooden swing gate and continue as before in the next field. In 100m, ignore a swing gate on your right and continue beside the meadow, but only for another 50m. Under a large oak tree, avoid a path ahead that cuts across the meadow and instead go right through a wooden swing-gate and over a 2-plank bridge into the adjoining field.
3. Turn immediately left along the left-hand side of this grassy field. In 100m, in the corner, go over a 2-plank bridge into the next meadow and continue as before. You can see the cedar by Itchingfield Church ahead. In 50m, ignore a 4-way fingerpost. In 250m, in the far corner, go right. Just before the next corner, your path takes you left into the woods and down over a bridge with handrails. Just after the bridge, avoid a gate leading into a meadow and keep left on a path into the woods. The path leads over a 2-plank bridge and up, past an old kissing-gate, into the precincts of St Nicholas’ church, Itchingfield. Go past the little timbered Priest’s House and turn left to the church.
4. Keep left, past the west side of the church with its free-standing wooden tower and under the great yew tree. Your path takes you through a small wooden gate, down steps and left beside a pasture. It zigzags down to a modern kissing-gate, over a 2-plank bridge and on a path between wire fences. Shortly, at a 3-way fingerpost, ignore a path on the right. Your path crosses a stream via a long bridge and takes you up steps, through a wooden swing-gate into a floral meadow. Go straight ahead on a path across the centre. You may have noticed for some time that you are on the West Sussex Literary Trail; this is a 55-mile walk from Horsham to Chichester, along which you meet Shelley, William Penn, John Galsworthy and Hilaire Belloc. Your path veers right to go through a gap past a fingerpost leading into the next meadow. Keep ahead on a faint path which runs about 15m from the left-hand edge. Your route veers left through a wooden swing-gate and then right on a narrow path parallel to a driveway on your left belonging to The Warren, Bashurst Hill. The whole length of the hedge is a line of wild roses and their wafted fragrance in summer is one of the joys of this walk. The scented path finally goes through a small wooden gate, left to join the drive and right to a tarmac lane.
5.Turn left on the lane and, in 50m, turn right on a driveway for Black Cherry Farm, still on the Literary Trail. The drive bends left to reach a large metal security gate. Here, go over a flimsy stile and shortly, at another gate, keep to the left on a fenced path, as directed, joining a track leading into a large pasture. Bear a fraction right to walk beside a wire fence that separates you from a smaller sheep field. At the other side, go through a new metal kissing gate, over a stile, over a grassy crossing path, through a large wooden gate and straight ahead along the left-hand side of a meadow. At the other side, go over a rare “T-V” stile and turn left on a wide track, signposted as a bridleway.
6. Keep ahead past the house and buildings of Elmshurst Farm and go through a small wooden gate beside a large one. You are now on a fine surfaced woodland path. In 200m or so, your path narrows and runs in a more open landscape. You come through a small metal gate and arrive at a signposted junction of tracks. Keep straight on, through a small wooden gate beside a larger wooden gate, passing Shiprods Farmhouse on your right, and follow a concrete drive running beside open fields. In 150m, the drive veers left beside a wood. Where the track bends left into an avenue of oaks, leave it by keeping right on a rough track. Ignore a stile on your right after 100m. After 250m through handsome woodland, just as the line of oaks on your right ends, look to your left for a metal kissing gate. Don’t miss this turn! Go through this gate and follow a parallel path in the wood.
7. In 120m, you glimpse from your woodland path a boundary between fields on your right. Opposite the next field boundary, 200m later, your path suddenly kinks left and right at a fingerpost, now deeper in the wood. After a twisty 200m, you come out of the wood onto a grassy bank just before a stream. Turn left and immediately turn right over a 2-plank bridge with handrail and through a metal kissing gate, leading into a large meadow of waving grass. Turn left along the left-hand edge of the meadow. In 100m, you pass some field gates on your left and go over a wide plank bridge. Continue to the far corner and go through a metal kissing-gate, over a 2- plank bridge to a tarmac lane. Turn left on the lane.
8. In 150m, you pass an untidy farm and, just as the lane curves right, an old farm house (in a pitiful state in 2016). Immediately after the house, turn right on a signposted track, through a large metal gate. The track is surfaced at first, then degrades as it runs 200m straight across the centre of a meadow. At the other side go through a large metal gate into woodland. This path runs under trees, tarmacked in patches, and comes out after 200m to a junction of tracks opposite a house called Owlers. Ignore a wooden gate into a pasture on your right and turn right on a wide track. The track veers left and, after 200m, you pass the entrance to Muntham House school. In just 20m, opposite a wooden gate on your left, turn right on a bridleway which may be familiar from your outward journey. In 80m, at a 4-way fingerpost, turn left on a narrow bridleway, leading, in 200m or so, to the road in the village of Barns Green, opposite the Queens Head where the walk began.
DISTANCE: 5 miles
OS MAPS: Explorer 134 (Horsham)
STARTING POINT: Barns Green, near Horsham, West Sussex, RH13 0PS, opposite the Queens Head pub.
REFRESHMENTS: Queens Head, Barns Green