Weekend Walk: Petworth Park: A Landscape of Capabilites (3 miles)

David Levenson NT

Start the walk from the National Trust, Petworth Park north car park (parking cost £3, free to NT members), located off the A283. From the car park, take the track leading to the west (with the wall on your right) to the view at the top of the hill.

1. Capability Brown laid out the trees bordering the park wall to obscure the road, making the parkland seem more extensive. The herd of fallow deer can often be seen here as they favour the quieter end of the park. Continue along the grassy track, keeping the wall on your right side until you see a little cottage, called Shepherds Lodge.

2. Take the grassy track which rises up to Monument Hill. As you climb the hill you pass a very old sweet chestnut, approximately 500 years old. Continue climbing the hill until you reach a path on the left with a bench in view. Stop for a breather and take in the highest views of the park at 125m above sea level.

3. Follow the path that contours around a bowl giving extensive views over the park and then descend the steep hill back to the stone road and turn right walking towards the mansion. Capability Brown designed the stone track to give an impressive view for guests travelling by horse and carriage from the north.

4. Once you reach the top of the hill, cross onto the grassy path to take you towards the boathouse. Capability Brown swept away the formal gardens at the front of the mansion and created the Upper Pond to make a naturalistic landscape. As you walk down the slope note how the Upper Pond looks like a wide meandering river. This was one of Capability Brown’s trademarks and can be spotted at other Capability Brown landscapes around the country. Walk down the hill, turn left at the cross in the path. Follow the grass track around the railings enclosing the Upper Pond and take the track leading to the top of the hill.

5. From here there are excellent views over the parkland to the surrounding countryside. Looking north towards Blackdown and south to the downs. Proceed down the track towards the Lower Pond to return the car park.

6. Capability Brown built the lower pond between 1756- 1757 to act as a focal point from around the Park which is now an excellent habitat for dragonflies and toads. As you reach the Lower Pond, walk around the pond and along the track towards the car park to finish your walk. See if you can spot the Beelzebub Oak, which dates back to 1779 on your return.

DISTANCE: 3 miles

STARTING POINT: Petworth Park north car park, located off the A283 towards Guildford if travelling from Petworth itself

REFRESHMENTS: Petworth House has a restaurant, coffee shop and a vintage ice-cream and coffee outlet. There are many places in Petworth itself.


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