Link to main content

Jay Walking

Vanguard Way: East Grinstead to Buxted

I arrived early enough at East Grinstead station, but instead of walking the 5 km back to where I’d finished walking last I took a taxi. It took sometime to sort out the taxi as I didn’t have a postcode for the location I wanted to go to but we got there eventually. I walked to the days starting point and sat down for a bit to tie up my boot correctly and have a small snack. The weather forecast for the day was good, but it was cold in the morning, but there had been a lot of rain during the week so learning from the previous walk, I’d come equipped with big boots rather than trainers. This turned out to be a good move as the route headed off along a very muddy path, heading along some fields before turning South along an exceptionally muddy track, that had seen a lot of horse traffic by the looks of it. The track headed gradually downhill to a river and through the appropriately named Wet Wood, though by the time we reached the wood the mud had gone for the moment.

A track descending downwards though fields of grass
A slightly muddy path passing through some woodlands

After crossing the river, I headed gradually uphill, meeting a road which was followed for a while. There was no one about apart from a single dog walker and it was starting to feel warm. The route headed generally Southward, passing various farms and fields, before moving off the road to another deeply muddy path, which was hard to walk along, once more heading slowly downhill, past a small lake before reaching the outskirts of Forest Row where a few people were out walking their dogs. I reached the main high street, passing a small skate park with a lot of youngsters using it. The sun was fully out now and I sat on a convenient bench and rested for a few minutes, taking the time to take off some layers.

A leaf shaped wooden sign, with the words Vanguard Way and two acorns carved on it
View back across a golf course with a bridge in the foreground crossing a small river

It was a quick walk to leave the town, heading through some small alleys and up another hill to the Royal Ashdown Forest Golf Club, though the route barely touched the golf course heading along the edge of it. The sky was fully blue and the day was shaping up to be really nice, after crossing a small stream the gold course was left behind I headed up toward a road. This was one of the annoying parts where the plotted route was quite badly wrong so I spent a few minutes wandering about trying to find a non existent path before finding the correct route. I did see two deer while doing this so it was not too bad and after a while, I’d climbed to a road, though not before taking a slip on some mud. I sat down for a few minutes, cleaning the mud up and trying to figure out where the correct route was. I remembered to take my compass out of my backpack which made finding the correct route a lot easier. While I was sitting down a few pairs of walkers passed by and crossed the road, though none of them took any notice of me. I followed along after the last pair but they headed away from the Vanguard Way and I kept on it, walking downhill through some forest before reaching a road, which was warm from the sun. Heading along the road a bit I crossed another small stream or river and headed slowly uphill in a South Easterly direction. The gpx file was once more wrong but it was easy enough to stay on the right track, walking through some woodland and then over open heathland. The landscape and general setting were very pleasant and I got quite hot on the long walk uphill, the steepness of the climb increasing as I got to the top.

A low lying river across a road, with a small pedestrian bridge
A wide dirt track crossing the weald landscape, with heath land and abundant yellow gorse.

I headed to a busy car park, full of people who were out walking their dogs, and a large group of army cadets carrying massive packs were heading off somewhere. I crossed the road, and after a brief mistake, which I can’t blame on the .gpx file headed off Southward on pleasantly wide paths. I sat down for a break and a bit to eat, at one point I had to fend off a black labrador which took a liking to my sandwich, making a lunge to take it from my hand. After this it was easy walking for a while until another carpark and another .gpx error, instead of taking the correct though the carpark the .gpx file when along a road and boxed round the car park, it was a little confusing but I got on the correct path, heading steeply downhill to a series of pond and muddy trails. There was a lot of iron stone rock fragments littered about the place, usually these form bands of hard material in sandstones and I knew that parts of the rocks which made up the Weald contained these. After the ponds there was another uphill stretch which went on until a road and the small village of Poundgate was reached. I saw a pub in the distance and headed for it, it was about 2:30PM and I felt like sitting down for a bit, the pub was pretty full and I was probably the only person not eating, setting for a pint of bitter which was very pleasant. Looking at the map on my tablet it didn’t look like there was far to go, maybe about 5 kilometres so I was confident of reaching my desired finishing point of Buxted in good time.

View from a hill, looking back to the North and distant hills
Clear blue skies, looking across a field to some trees and down lands in the distance
Extremely muddy and waterlogged path, about 1 metre wide

I left the pub at 3PM, the sun was lovely and warm, and I headed though a farm, pausing to speak to an elderly couple who were looking for somewhere to walk, before heading on along some really muddy paths. There were good views all the way to the South Downs and the end of the route, which continued though woodland along the top of a ridge for a while before reaching some farm building and heading downhill though field boundaries and woodlands. The gpx was once again wrong, taking a wildly different route, but I followed the Vanguard Way signs and kept on the correct path, briefly walking along a road and joining the Sussex Diamond Way which I’d never heard of. It was a nice feeling walking the sunshine though some fields and woodlands, before reaching and walking through a cluster of farm buildings. I sat on a stile to have a small break, before proceeding along some more muddy paths, leaving the farms behind, gradually heading downhill to a tunnel under a train track at a place called Stones Rough. From there it was a small steep climb though some woods to a road which leaded to Buxted Station. I nearly missed it and continued on a little way before realising my mistake, it was nice to reach the station, though there was a long wait for the train so I headed to a nearby pub and had a drink. It had been a great day, with some exceptional muddy paths but also some lovely countryside and some great weather so there was nothing to complain about, though the 3 hour journey back was not something to look forward to.