Walk 53: Harrison's Rocks and Rocks Farm
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9.7 Miles (4.5 Hours)
OS Map: Explorer 135 (Start at grid reference TQ533364)
Park in Birchden Wood. On entering the village of Groombridge from the North, bear let at the mini roundabout and pass the Junction Inn on the right. Carry on over railway bridge and, at the top of the hill, take a right hand fork (where there is a white fingerpost in the middle of the junction). After 200yds take a right turn, which lacked any sort of sign when I last visited (but if you reach a row of houses you have gone too far), down track to car park. At the time of writing (August 2015) parking charges are not being collected but the Forestry Commission, which has recently taken over management from the British Mountaineering Council, will be introducing a Pay & Display system shortly to help pay for the excellent toilets and other facilities.
Leave the car park by the track at the bottom left and go down to railway line. Turn left parallel to the railway, noting Harrison’s rocks on left.
Continue to and through Forge Farm. Follow a rising grassy track, becoming asphalt after passing Pinstraw Farm, to reach road at Park Corner. Turn right down road past some houses on left and go over a waymarked stile on left. Follow left hand edge of field. Cross stream and turn sharp right along bottom of field for a few metres. At finger post turn sharp left climbing steadily along middle of huge field. Continue across next field passing Warren Farm on left to join road. Turn right but at bottom of dip take a waymarked footpath on left and follow until you emerge in the car park at Eridge Rocks.
Carry on down the road that leads to the car park (heading roughly north east) until you reach the main road. Turn right and walk down the pavement until you are opposite a bus shelter. Cross the road carefully and go through the gate a few metres to the left of the shelter. Follow the left hand edge of the field down to a stream, up the edge of the next field and down again to another footbridge over a river. Shortly after the bridge take a stile on the right and follow a path along the right hand edge of several fields, following the river on your right, until you reach the road.
Turn left and follow the right hand verge until you reach the driveway to Steelbridge Farm on right. Just inside the driveway, climb a stile on left and take a path diagonally uphill to the highest corner of the field. Go through a gate and along a track that bears right into a field. Follow the right hand edge of the field for a short distance to a large oak, then bear slightly left across the field to the middle of the opposite side. Go down bank to a footbridge and up bank on other side to a metalled drive. Turn left uphill and when the drive turns left follow it round the corner to a junction – turn right here.
Follow track for over half a kilometre to Stitches Farm. Just past farm take path on right across field to gap in hedge. Through the gap turn left along the top of the next field and at the corner bear right down the side of the field and under the railway alongside a river. Go through a gate, bear right and cross bridge over the river. Go straight uphill along the left hand sides of two fields – do not enter the wood on the left even though some maps show the path going through the wood. Go over a stile, bear right across a road and take the track, initially asphalt but soon becoming grassy, on the other side.
Follow track along the right hand edge of field past some large oaks, noting Bowle’s Rocks and the Outdoor Activities Centre on the right. Through gateway with Rocks Farm across the field in front, follow the track round to the left and then to the right towards the farm. Skirt the farm on the right and then join the farm drive. Turn right along drive, left past a tennis court then right along minor road to a dead end where a path leads down to the A26.
Cross carefully and take the path up the bank on the other side. At a junction of tracks bear left to take the one that is not gated and leads downhill directly away from the main road. Keep right at fork and continue as the track turns right past some houses. Just beyond the houses, go through squeeze stile on the left and follow the path to a sunken track between hedges. Emerge between fields and, just before a wood, reach a junction of paths and a seat where you can rest or eat your lunch.
Take the track past the seat downhill to another junction of paths at the bottom of the valley. Take path through gate on the right and climb diagonally up the next field to a clump of trees. Bear slightly left and cross the next field to yet another junction of paths. Go straight across passing some trees on your left and then bear right across the field to the corner of the wood at the far side. Follow the path downhill just outside the wood to a footbridge.
Cross the bridge and bear left of copse with pond. Pass between corner of wood on left and farm with oast house on your right. At farm climb a stile and take the path almost opposite. Follow path across several fields passing Rocks Wood on your right to the bottom of a valley. Bear right, cross a footbridge over a stream and bear right uphill to stile in the hedge leading to lane.
Turn right and follow lane downhill until it bears sharp right. Go straight forward between a gate and a garage along a path through woods where bluebells flower in profusion in April. Through wood enter glade, where foxes can sometimes be seen, and walk full length to a stile. Over the stile, bear left uphill to another stile. Over this stile, continue diagonally across field, descending at the far side to a tunnel under the railway. On the far side cross a field and a footbridge to the road.
Turn left uphill under the railway. At the top of the hill, follow the road round to the right. When the road turns left take path on right immediately before school across the railway. Follow path to access road to car park. Turn right and return to your car.
Forge Farm and Harrison’s Rocks
Forge Farm is on the site of old Birchden Forge. Here the stream was used to power a bellows to forge iron, last used by William Harrison to make firearms until 1750. Finding this unprofitable, he opened the land to people wanting to visit see the scenery, especially the 40ft sandstone outcrop now owned by the British Mountaineering Council. It is rare not to see rock climbers training here.
on Bowles Rocks
fine Sussex harvest
with rabbit near Motts Mill
station on the Spa
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Map based on Ordnance
Survey mapping released into the public domain under the OpenData