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Moonlight Cottage Cocking and South Downs Trail

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Moonlight Cottage Cocking and South Downs Trail
Author: Claire, Published: 22 Feb 2014 Walk rating : Rating:star1 Moonlight Cottage Cocking and South Downs Trailstar1 Moonlight Cottage Cocking and South Downs Trailstar1 Moonlight Cottage Cocking and South Downs Trailstar1 Moonlight Cottage Cocking and South Downs Trailstar1 Moonlight Cottage Cocking and South Downs Trail
West Sussex, Midhurst
Walk Type: Hills, valleys and dales
Moonlight Cottage Cocking and South Downs Trail
Length: 4 miles,  Difficulty: boot Moonlight Cottage Cocking and South Downs Trail boot Moonlight Cottage Cocking and South Downs Trail boot Moonlight Cottage Cocking and South Downs Trail
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0007_fog Moonlight Cottage Cocking and South Downs TrailToday's weather
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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 delicious refreshments after a day of walking. The walking route heads south, climbing steeply to reach the South Downs Way and then follows this ridge-top path west before returning down the ridge and along old farm tracks. There are beautiful views across the surrounding hills and on clear days you’ll be able to see as far as Guildford to the north and the coast to the south.

The route is basically one long ascent followed by one long descent, a couple of sections being fairly steep. There are no gates or stiles to negotiate. The chalk paths on the climbs/descents can become slippery when wet and the farm tracks can be very muddy in winter and after periods of rain, so good boots are a must. You may come across sheep and cattle grazing the fenced fields adjacent to the South Downs Way 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. Alternatively you can park in the South Downs car park further south on the A286 where it crosses the South Downs Way, then simply adjust the walk to visit Moonlight Cottage on the way round. Approximate post code GU29 0HN.

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Walk Sections

Start to South Downs Way
Start to South Downs Way

Start point: 50.95 lat, -0.7519 long
End point: 50.9425 lat, -0.7507 long

Standing on the main A286 road facing Moonlight Cottage, turn left and then, immediately after the tea garden, turn right down Church Lane (a gravel lane marked as a public footpath). Keep ahead on the gravel driveway and soon this narrows to a stony path which swings left and then right to emerge out at the war memorial by the corner of the church yard.

The oldest part of the church in Cocking dates to the 11th century and for 900 years it had no dedication to a saint and so was simply known as Cocking Parish Church. In 2007 it was dedicated to St Catherine of Siena, an Italian woman who lived in the 1300s and dedicated her short life to serving the sick, the poor and the imprisoned. This dedication was chosen as one of the church’s medieval bells is inscribed with her name.

Turn right along the tarmac lane for just a few paces crossing over another branch of a stream. Immediately after, fork right onto the track signed as a restricted byway. Follow this stony track for some distance as it leads you up the slopes of the South Downs. You’ll notice the distinctive chalk underfoot with bright white round rocks and a grey surface which gets very sticky and slippery when wet!

Towards the top the track levels off and you’ll pass farm buildings on the right. In the summer months you can buy ice-cream here. You will emerge to a T-junction with a tarmac lane, part of the South Downs Way. Directly opposite there is one of the public taps which are placed at intervals along the South Downs Way – a good opportunity to fill up your water bottle before the next part of your climb!

South Downs Way to Harepath Wood
South Downs Way to Harepath Wood

Start point: 50.9425 lat, -0.7507 long
End point: 50.946 lat, -0.7832 long

Turn right along the tarmac lane. You’ll notice the South Downs Way is waymarked with an acorn, the symbol used to mark all National Trails. The South Downs Way, one of 15 National Trails, runs for 100 miles from Winchester to Eastbourne. People have been using the South Downs Way for around 8,000 years as a safer and drier alternative to the wetter lowlands.

Shortly you will come to a crossroads with the main A286 road. Cross over with extreme care and take the track opposite. (Note: the alternative South Downs car park is on the left here). From here you’ll be able to see the route of the track climbing up the next section of hills – but don’t think about that now, just one step at a time!

Follow the South Downs Way heading west and continuing its steady climb. You’ll pass between the farm buildings of Hill Top Farm, Cocking Hill Dairy. The yellow paintwork on the windows and doors signifies this as one of the working farms of the Cowdray Estate. The working estate covers more than 16,500 acres and includes a number of farms and managed woodlands. Lamb, beef and venison raised on the estate are sold at the Cowdray Farm Shop just north of Midhurst.

Take time to enjoy the views each side, which on clear days stretch to the coast to the south and to Guildford in the north. Some way up the track, you’ll come to a fork. Take the right-hand branch a stony track straight ahead still signed as the South Downs Way. At the next junction, a signed staggered crossroads, keep straight ahead on the main stony track still meandering uphill. Continue to the next signed crossroads (which marks the far end of Harepath Wood which is down to the right.)

Harepath Wood to Crypt Farm
Harepath Wood to Crypt Farm

Start point: 50.946 lat, -0.7832 long
End point: 50.9459 lat, -0.7604 long

Turn right here, leaving the South Downs Way to join the restricted byway. This track soon leads you into the edge of the woodland. To the right you’ll notice several ancient yew trees. Yews are evergreen poisonous trees which are often planted in church yards and generally live to 400 or 600 years.

The track swings right and begins its steep descent. Take extra care as the chalk surface can be very slippery when wet. As the trees on the left give way to open fields you’ll have stunning views ahead of the rolling hills to the east. As you reach more trees on the left, you’ll come to a junction of paths. Go straight ahead here (ignoring the byway off to the left).

The track soon emerges from the woodland and continues its descent between hedgerows. This long farm track can be quite muddy and slippery in winter/wet weather so take care. Eventually you will reach a T-junction, turn right here. As you reach private grounds ahead, follow the path as it swings right and then left around the grounds to reach a T-junction with the track for Crypt Farm.

Crypt Farm to End
Crypt Farm to End

Start point: 50.9459 lat, -0.7604 long
End point: 50.9502 lat, -0.7517 long

Turn left and after a few paces keep left again passing the impressive indoor swimming pool of Crypt Farm on the left. At the next junction keep left again on the restricted byway signed to Cocking (0.5 miles). On the left you’ll pass a beautiful white house adorned with wisteria, and down to the right you’ll see a pretty sunken pond which is home to a number of species of ducks.

Follow the lane under the impressive brick arch, which supports a disused railway overhead. Continue on the lane with the river running to the right and this will lead you between cottages and out to the main road in Cocking. Keep left for a few paces and you’ll come to Moonlight Cottage on the right 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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Uploaded: 13 Jun 2016


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