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Moonlight Cottage Cocking and Heyshott Trail

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Moonlight Cottage Cocking and Heyshott Trail
Author: Claire, Published: 21 Feb 2014 Walk rating : Rating:star1 Moonlight Cottage Cocking and Heyshott Trail Walking Guidestar1 Moonlight Cottage Cocking and Heyshott Trail Walking Guidestar1 Moonlight Cottage Cocking and Heyshott Trail Walking Guidestar1 Moonlight Cottage Cocking and Heyshott Trail Walking Guidestar0 Moonlight Cottage Cocking and Heyshott Trail Walking Guide
West Sussex, Midhurst
Walk Type: Footpaths and byways
Moonlight Cottage Cocking and Heyshott Trail
Length: 4 miles,  Difficulty: boot Moonlight Cottage Cocking and Heyshott Trail Walking Guide boot Moonlight Cottage Cocking and Heyshott Trail Walking Guide
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A 4 mile circular walk from Moonlight Cottage in Cocking, West Sussex in the heart of the South Downs. Moonlight Cottage is a wonderful B&B (open all year) and tea room (open March to September) offering walkers a perfect base for weekends away or simply some much needed refreshments after a day of walking. The walking route heads north through Hoe Copse to reach the nearby village of Heyshott before returning across the rolling fields. There are lovely views across the patchwork hills of the Downs throughout and lots of wildlife to enjoy in the woodlands.

The route has a few steady climbs and descents throughout. In terms of obstacles there are some gates, two stiles (both with open fencing gaps suitable for most dogs), some steps and a couple of narrow footbridges to negotiate. There are also a couple of sections of walking on quiet country/village lanes so take care of any traffic at these points. The walk follows mainly unmade woodland and field paths which, whilst generally firm, can become quite muddy in winter and after periods of rain. You may come across sheep and/or horses in a couple of the fields so take care with dogs. Approximate time 1.5 to 2 hours.

Cocking is located on the A286, just 3 miles south of Midhurst in West Sussex. The walk starts and finishes from Moonlight Cottage B&B and Tea Room, which is located on the main A286 road, on the left-hand side if you are travelling south from Midhurst. Moonlight Cottage has its own small car park alongside which day walkers are welcome to use if they are visiting the tea room before or after their walk. If this car park is full, there are additional spaces behind The Malthouse (on the opposite side of the road - turn down the lane marked public footpath and History Column) which is also managed by the owners of Moonlight Cottage. Approximate post code GU29 0HN.

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Walk Sections

Start to Hoe Copse
Start to Hoe Copse

Start point: 50.9505 lat, -0.7517 long
End point: 50.9541 lat, -0.7453 long

Standing on the main A286 road facing Moonlight Cottage, turn left along the pavement, heading north into the village. On the left you’ll pass a pretty set of terraced cottages built in 1904.

The distinctive bright yellow paintwork of the windows and doors is a familiar sight in this area. It signifies the cottages as being part of the Cowdray Estate, a 16,500 acre estate which has belonged to the Pearson family for more than 100 years. Today the estate comprises cottages, farmland, woodland and formal grounds plus one of the largest polo clubs in the country, with more than 450 games played each season.

Continue past the small garage on the right and, immediately after the Post Office, turn right down Mill Lane signed to Cocking Church. Follow the lane ahead and, where the lane bends hard right you’ll see a signpost marking two footpaths. Take the left of these, heading almost straight on, down a gravel driveway. At the bottom of the slope you’ll pass a pretty mill pond and weir on the right. Follow the driveway as it swings left.

As you reach Mill Cottage ahead, take the narrow fenced footpath which runs to the right of this. Follow the path as it swings right then left. Follow the fenced footpath and this will lead you to a junction of paths. Keep ahead on the footpath heading through a small belt of trees. The path continues along the left-hand edge of a crop field, following the field edge as it swings right. Soon after this bend, you’ll see a sign marking the footpath heading left into woodland, Hoe Copse.

Hoe Copse to Mill Lane
Hoe Copse to Mill Lane

Start point: 50.9541 lat, -0.7453 long
End point: 50.9603 lat, -0.7322 long

Take this path, heading down a few steps into Hoe Copse which contains a beautiful carpet of bluebells every spring. Follow the obvious path over the stream and swinging right to pass through a section of coppiced hazel. A little later, the path veers left towards the centre of the woodland, with a section of coniferous trees on the right.

At the small crossroads, keep straight ahead and at the next fork keep right, still signed with a yellow arrow marking the public footpath. Swing left as a path joins in from the right and a few paces later you’ll come to a T-junction of tracks. Turn right (passing another yellow marker) and ignore the paths off to the left. Shortly you’ll come to a major T-junction of tracks, turn left here.

The track leads you over a stream and swings right continuing uphill. Stay on this main stone forest track which will eventually lead you past a vehicle barrier to reach a T-junction with the main road, Mill Lane.

Mill Lane to Marsh Pond
Mill Lane to Marsh Pond

Start point: 50.9603 lat, -0.7322 long
End point: 50.9599 lat, -0.7251 long

Turn left along the grass verge for just a short distance and, when you reach the signpost on the opposite side, cross over to turn right along the bridleway. Follow the bridleway through a long belt of trees. Soon the path becomes a sunken stony track with steep banks each side (this path can run with water after periods of rain). The path leads you to a footbridge over a stream.

Cross the footbridge and, a few paces later, turn right at the junction of paths. Go through the small wooden gate (to the left of the farm gate) and continue on the fenced track. Cross over the tarmac access lane and take the gate directly opposite. NOTE: You may come across livestock or dogs being trained in this field so keep dogs on leads.

Cross the field diagonally to reach the opposite corner. The buildings to your left are a training facility for Canine Partners, a charity which trains dogs to assist people with disabilities with tasks ranging from getting dressed to unloading the washing machine. You may be lucky enough to see some of the dogs in training.

Pass through the gate and keep ahead on the gravel driveway. Continue passing a range of pretty cottages to the right. Opposite Lower Granmore Farm (to the right), fork left onto a signed footpath passing through an arched hedgerow. You will emerge to the edge of a small green, with two paths signed across this. Take the right of the two paths, which heads just to the right of the small brick building opposite. As you reach the road, cross over with care and then turn right along the grass verge. After a few paces you’ll come to Marsh Pond on the left.

Marsh Pond to Hampshire Copse
Marsh Pond to Hampshire Copse

Start point: 50.9599 lat, -0.7251 long
End point: 50.9533 lat, -0.7343 long

Continue on the roadside verge past the pond, and immediately afterwards take the signed footpath to the left. Follow this path across the rough marshland (hence the name of the pond!), staying fairly close to the hedge across to the left. You will need to use the sleeper bridge to cross the ditch which is used to drain this marsh area.

Continue past The Rectory on the left and soon afterwards the path emerges to a T-junction with the main road. Keep left along the road (taking care of any traffic) heading into the centre of Heyshott village. Heyshott is well known for its elaborate celebrations of Bonfire Night which include a torch-lit procession through the village. You will soon come to the pretty flint church, St James, on the left. Fork right here onto the smaller lane passing the village phone box.

Follow this tarmac lane passing Leggs Farm. Immediately after passing The Old Thatch (a cottage now missing the thatch in its name!) on the right, fork right over a stile onto a marked footpath into a field. Note: this field may be holding a number of horses in temporary paddocks so take care with children and dogs around the electric fencing.

Cross the field at about 11 o’clock to reach the stile and sleeper bridge which lead you into the next field. Keep straight ahead along the right-hand edge of this crop field. The path leads you down to another sleeper bridge across a stream. Keep ahead across the next section of field to reach the footpath sign on the edge of the small copse, Hampshire Copse.

Hampshire Copse to End
Hampshire Copse to End

Start point: 50.9533 lat, -0.7343 long
End point: 50.9506 lat, -0.7514 long

Follow the path through the copse and out into the next field. Keep straight ahead on the grass path between crop fields. As the hedge over to the left ends, fork left onto the path striking out diagonally through the large crop field. The path will lead you to a gap in the hedge with the road beyond. Do NOT go through to the road, instead bear right to follow the field edge with the road running down to the left.

In the field corner, keep ahead down the steps set within the hedge and then turn right along the concrete access lane. A few paces in, turn left up more steps to enter the next field. Go straight ahead across this field, heading for the cottage, Sage Barn. As you approach the barn, you’re likely to get a very loud welcome from the gun dogs that are housed here!

Take the path immediately to the right of the barn and swing left behind the property. After a few paces turn right onto the field edge footpath with a hedge to the left. At the field corner, swing right along the bottom of the field and then bear left down the steps passing under a holly bush to reach a junction of paths.

You may recognise this junction from your outward leg and from this point you will be retracing your steps back to Moonlight Cottage. To do this turn left along the fenced footpath and follow it to emerge out to the gravel driveway. Follow the driveway as it swings right over the stream and climbs uphill. Keep ahead to reach the junction with the main village road. Turn left through the village and you will find Moonlight Cottage on the left for some well deserved tea and cake.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2014 by the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.

The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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