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Upwaltham Church Circular

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Upwaltham Church Circular
Author: mike evans, Published: 02 Jan 2018 Walk Rating:star1 Upwaltham Church Circular Walking Guide star1 Upwaltham Church Circular Walking Guide star1 Upwaltham Church Circular Walking Guide star1 Upwaltham Church Circular Walking Guide star1 Upwaltham Church Circular Walking Guide
West Sussex, South Downs
Walk Type: Footpaths and byways
Upwaltham Church Circular
Length: 5 miles,  Difficulty: boot Upwaltham Church Circular Walking Guide boot Upwaltham Church Circular Walking Guide boot Upwaltham Church Circular Walking Guide
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0002_sunny_intervals Upwaltham Church Circular Walking Guide Today's weather
11 °C, Partly cloudy, Wind: 6 mph NE
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0018_cloudy_with_heavy_rain Upwaltham Church Circular Walking Guide 0001_sunny Upwaltham Church Circular Walking Guide 0002_sunny_intervals Upwaltham Church Circular Walking Guide 0001_sunny Upwaltham Church Circular Walking Guide 0001_sunny Upwaltham Church Circular Walking Guide

A circular walk of just over 5 miles (8km) starting and ending at the church at Upwaltham in West Sussex, with a total ascent of 285 metres. The walk has some stunning views and a useful seat part way round to enjoy a drink. On the walk you will spend some time on the South Downs Way and pass two memorials to airmen lost in the Second World War. There are two significant uphill sections on the walk, but nothing that caused this 71 year old grandfather any problem (just saying!). One section in the second half of the walk can be muddy in wet weather. You will need to negotiate several gates (including a kissing gate), but there are no stiles on route. We encountered no sheep or cattle. There is no road walking, but you will need to cross the A285 twice, so take care at these points. Allow 2.5 hours.

The walk starts at Upwaltham church, close to the A285 between Halnaker and Duncton. Upwaltham is a small hamlet some four miles north of Halnaker on the A285. Heading north in the direction of Duncton on the A285, as the road curves round to the right look out for a small flint building and a post box on the left and a flint house on the right. The road (more a track) is on the left and just to the left of the small flint building, it is quite small and easy to miss. The parking is somewhat limited but head up the track towards the church, the track terminates at a five bar gate with some space on the right just before the gate where you can park. There is a bus service to the start of the walk that is provided by the number 99 bus from Chichester to Petworth. The north going stop is adjacent to the track that goes from the A285 to the church. The Latitude and Longitude of the parking is 50.916140, -0.660446. The nearest postcode is GU28 0LX.

Walk Sections

Start to Memorial 1
Start to Memorial 1

Start point: 50.916 lat, -0.6603 long
End point: 50.916 lat, -0.6602 long

The walk starts from the church, so first a little about it. The church, dedicated to St. Mary the Virgin, is just over 900 years old and the three foot (90 cm) thick walls are of stone and downland flint. When we visited it was open, which is an unusual surprise but I believe this is normally the case. It has to be one of the cutest churches around and inside is a plaque dedicated to the crew of two lost aircraft which are memorialised during the walk.

Start by taking the track back to the A285. Turn to the right and walk on the grass verge along the A285 for 60 metres. On the other side of the road you will see a footpath fingerpost. Carefully cross the road and follow the fingerpost to pass through a kissing gate in a large hedge. This leads into a gravel parking area. Cross this to pass between a large black painted barn and some buildings on the left. Bear left past the buildings. Fifty metres brings you to a two-way bridleway waymarker. Turn right here to start the journey up hill. There is an electricity transformer on two poles immediately on your left.

It is one kilometre from here to the first waypoint and the first memorial on the route, I'm afraid it is uphill!

In February 1945, a US Air Force Dakota on its way from France crashed here. In thick fog with visibility 25 yards at ground level, it is believed that the pilot, First Lieut Richard Pogue, from Woodlake, California, thought that he was still over the Channel and was trying to find the cloud base. In this incident, seven men died, all American.

Memorial 1 to Seat
Memorial 1 to Seat

Start point: 50.916 lat, -0.6602 long
End point: 50.9084 lat, -0.6501 long

From the memorial continue ahead (now with a wood on your left and open fields on the right) and then, after 130 metres with a waymarker on your left, enter the wood proper. Walk for 240 metres through the wood and a few metres after you meet a track coming in from your left (and at a three-way fingerpost), you meet a wide track at a T-junction. Turn left here and walk for 190 metres to the edge of the wood. Continue ahead ignoring the three-way fingerpost after a further 190 metres at the start of a wood on the left. Do NOT turn left here but continue with the wood on your left. Walk for 500 metres passing a seat on the left (this one is not your target) to the end of the wood where the path reaches a Y-junction. Take the left-hand option and walk with the same wood on your left and open fields on your right. After 250 metres you will reach a seat on your left which is the destination of this section of the walk.

Seat to A285
Seat to A285

Start point: 50.9084 lat, -0.6501 long
End point: 50.9074 lat, -0.632 long

Turn left at the seat to leave the seat on your right and follow the South Downs Way. If you are in any doubt, there is a four-way fingerpost opposite the seat which will give you the correct path to follow.

It is a straight 2.75km on this track (the South Downs Way) back to the A285. It's all downhill and the lower half has recently been resurfaced with scalpings, so the going is generally easy. There is a track coming in from the right two thirds of the way down, but simply follow the bridleway fingerpost on the left at this point to continue ahead. A second fingerpost on the left, in about 70 metres or so, again points ahead in the same direction where another track joins from the right. When I say straight, in fact towards the end, there is a 90 degree turn to the left followed by a 90 degree turn to the right.

The track terminates at the A285, exiting through a large five bar gate.

A285 to Memorial 2
A285 to Memorial 2

Start point: 50.9074 lat, -0.632 long
End point: 50.9216 lat, -0.649 long

At the A285 turn right and walk a few metres on the verge to a fingerpost pointing to the left and the continuation of the South Downs Way. Cross the road carefully and walk up the drive ahead for a short distance. Where the drive splits, your route continues to the right of the drive to the building. Follow it as it goes uphill for a short distance to a small five bar gate to the right of a larger five bar gate. Pass through the smaller. Shortly ahead as the ground rises, you will see a (most likely open) five bar gate with a smaller five bar gate to the right of it and a three-way fingerpost to the right of that. Continue through the opening or the smaller five bar gate to continue uphill on the South Downs Way. Walk across an arable field for 340 metres and then pass through another five bar gate (with a smaller five bar gate to the right of it) and into a further arable field. (There is a bridleway waymarker on the left-hand post of the smaller gate). Continue uphill for another 500 metres and, shortly after passing a two-way bridleway fingerpost embedded in a bucket of concrete (never seen that before!), you will reach a wood.

Pass into the wood through a small five bar gate, or more likely through the gap to the left of it. Walk through the wood for 270 metres to exit into a field. There are two (!) four-way fingerposts on your left. Turn left here to leave the South Downs Way. Walk ahead, shortly passing through two stout wooden posts. A few metres ahead, there is a three-way fingerpost on the right. When we walked, the finger pointing to the left and our direction of travel had been snapped off (presumably by a forestry vehicle). A stump survived the experience which was enough to show us the way. So turn left here and walk for 360 metres passing an ancient two-way fingerpost en route. When we passed along this section it was somewhat muddy. When you reach an observation platform atop a steel ladder the main track bears to the right. Do NOT follow it, but go straight ahead passing the tree with the observation platform on your left. Continue ahead and exit the wood after a further 190 metres. Turn right and walk with the wood on your right and a field on your left. After a short distance you will reach the second memorial on your right at the edge of the wood.

This memorial is dedicated to the crew of a Lancaster which crashed here on the 13th February 1944. The Lancaster, from the famous dambusting 617 Squadron, was returning from an assault on the Antheor railway viaduct in southern France. After a stop at Ford airfield for refueling, it took off in poor visibility. With a low cloud base and with not enough height, it crashed at this spot. Eight men died in all, three Canadians an Australian and four Englishmen. The captain, William Suggitt, was in fact rescued alive after a heroic effort by locals from the burning wreckage. All of the rescuers suffered burns. Unfortunately the captain died in St Richards hospital in Chichester the next day. One member of the crew, John Pulford, had been part of the Dam Busters raid.

Memorial 2 to End
Memorial 2 to End

Start point: 50.9216 lat, -0.649 long
End point: 50.9261 lat, -0.6622 long

From the memorial continue along the edge of the field for about 160 metres and, as a track drops down to the right by a three-way bridleway fingerpost on the right, turn left to continue along the side of the field, now in a southerly direction. Initially for 100 metres or so, there is a wood on your right and then the track continues downhill for a further 400 metres between arable land, passing a two-way bridleway sign on the left shortly after leaving the trees behind. At a tree/hedge line after passing a bridleway waymarker on the left, continue through an opening for a further 320 metres to reach a T-junction with a track coming from the left. Follow the two-way bridleway fingerpost on the right to continue straight ahead for 200 metres to a three-way fingerpost. The A285 can be seen a short distance on the track ahead. Turn right here. Follow this track for about 120 metres passing the church on your left to reach a track on your left. Turn left and in a short distance go through a small five bar gate to reach your starting point.

The church is normally open. On 22 August 2009, top brass representing the RAF, the United States of America Air Force, the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force joined relatives of four of the crew who lost their lives in 1944 and 1945, one relative travelling from California and two from Australia. A service was held and a memorial plaque unveiled in the church. There was a flypast by a Lancaster bomber of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2018 by iFootpath and the author seekin 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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