The last three months have been fairly busy as we have just moved house, so most of my time has been consumed with this, either planning, organizing, fitting, fixing or decorating. Although there is still a bit to complete, I thought it was about time that I set aside a day for a bit of exercise, exploring and photography.
I decided to take in a walk around the town of Uckfield in East Sussex, the walk would be in both the town and surrounding countryside.
It started from the Eastbourne Road near the Highlands Inn pub, which incidentally always seems busy especially at the weekend. Heading south-east along the Eastbourne road to pick up a footpath that now runs through two housing developments, one fairly recent while the other built back in the mid 90’s.
The development on Mallard Drive has a duck pond known as Harlands Pond, that coincidentally had quite a few Mallard ducks floating around on it. When they saw me stopping to have a look they started headed in my direction hoping for a little snack, they were out of luck.
The footpath snakes its way through the housing estate past the playing field onto Selby Close. From here its a short walk onto the Framfield Road, turning right and walking up Bird in Eye hill, where the footpath ends and it a walk along a busy road. After about half a mile I thankfully left the busy road onto Sandy lane a smaller country lane and a lot safer.
From here I picked up a footpath (Hempstead Lane) that headed north towards the town, to the right of the path was a small woodland (Hempstead Woods) with several signs marked “Private Keep Out” and Please keep to the Footpath – Private Property”. That obviously doesn’t mean dog walkers as one came strolling out of this area with a dog running loose behind her, you see this all the time now people have no respect for private property.
The path eventually crosses the railway line that runs from Uckfield to London Bridge Station, not the fastest route but better than it was in the slam-door train days. Passing the Sussex Horse Rescue Trust I stopped to look at Hempstead Mill a grade II listed building, not sure if it is still working.
Leaving the path I cut through a housing estate and picked up another path that eventually became a road and I emerged onto the main high street in Uckfield next to the Cinque Ports club. Crossing at the traffic lights into Church Street and down the hill turning left into Rocks Park Road. I could have carried on into Rocks Road as that was the way I was heading, but the road is a little narrow and winding, and I believe there is no footpath all the way along it. I then turned right onto Lashbrooks Road where I knew I could cut across West Park nature reserve and eventually across Rocks Road towards Lake Wood.
Lake Wood is managed by the Woodland Trust, see here for more information. It was originally part of the Rocks Estate owned by the Streatfield Family until just before the Second World War when it was sold and became a school. It is a beautiful almost magical place with a path that follows the edge of the lake, even having an archway to follow the path and stairs to a boat mooring cut into the rock. There was also a tunnel that ran under Rocks Road, now bricked up that was big enough for a horse-drawn carriage, oh how wealthy people of that era lived.
Leaving Lake Wood by the gate nearest the bridge over the A22 (London to Eastbourne road) I again crossed Rocks road into West Park nature reserve and followed a path that ran parallel with the A22, until I reached the roundabout near the Industrial Park. From here I crossed the A22 and headed off across a field towards the never completed line of the Ouse Valley Railway. There are still remnants of what would appear to be a brick platform or maybe a bridge near Beeches Farm, now covered with undergrowth as nature takes over.
From here I got a little lost, not sure if I missed the direction arrow or the footpath sign had been removed. Whatever it was I spent a few minutes walking around a field looking for an exit, before returning to the gate and finally picking up the correct path. The path crosses the river Uck, a name that has the local council modifying the shape of the signs, so it doesn’t get letters added to it if you get my drift.
The path now follows a farm track until you reach the old railway line that used to run from Uckfield to Lewes. This was closed in 1969 not as part of the government plans to save money, but damage to a bridge and embankment due to flooding, that was never repaired, and a new relief road built in its place.
Leaving the dismantled railway behind the path crosses a field and ends up following a tarmac farm lane, eventually turning left across a field and heading back towards the A22.
Crossing the main road is not for the faint-hearted as this is quite a busy road especially at peak times, although I managed to find a gap in the traffic enabling me to cross. The footpath then crosses a very muddy (at the time) field towards Ridgewood farm and onward into Boothland Wood. In the woodland I came across two workers from the local council they were cutting back some trees with a chainsaw, at least I think that was what they were attempting. A short walk through another modern housing estate brings me back to the start of the walk on the roundabout by the Highlands Inn.
- Sony RX100 MkII
- Hoya Polariser 49mm
- Lensmate Filter Adapter 49mm
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This is a map of the walk, the total route was just over 8 Miles.