17 November 2022
One of Southwater’s greatest assets is the abundance of local countryside and amazing views.
The Downs Link runs through the heart of the village and extends a total of 59 kilometres from the North Downs near Guildford down to Shoreham - by - Sea. Whilst the whole route is a relaxing, enjoyable stroll through the Sussex countryside, you might be quite tired by the end of it if you walked the whole thing in one go!
From Southwater, if you head from Lintot Square towards Christ’s Hospital along the Downs Link you will enjoy a scenic route alongside the repurposed old railway line that is now surrounded by woods, rivers, streams and ponds. As the walk follows the old train tracks, the route is mostly flat, although it can prove a bit unstable under foot after a rain shower.
Leaving Lintot Square, look for the old railway bridge that used to carry Worthing Road over the train tracks before the development of Lintot Square and subsequent new road. The bridge is adorned by cute drawings of butterflies by local school children.
As you walk along the path, you will first walk through the new Berkeley development, Broadacres. As part of Berkeley’s commitment to developing sustainable places, the walk through the new development is still a pleasant stroll through a well-maintained green area. Soon after, you will pass Southwater Sports Club, with a cricket pitch and clubhouse on one side and football pitches on the other.
After the pitches, you will be surrounded by tranquil woodland, farmers’ fields and streams.
Along the way, you will pass the Grade II* Great House Farm, one of Southwater’s most historic and prominent buildings. The farmhouse dates back to the 16th century, whilst continuous occupancy of the farm can be traced back to the 13th century.
Halfway into the walk, after roughly 20 minutes, you will pass the Bax Castle, a lovely scenic place to stop for a drink or a bite to eat. As well as a cosy and homely pub, in the summer months you can enjoy the large beer garden and well-equipped play area.
As you continue on your journey, you will come across Christ’s Hospital, one of the country’s most remarkable schools. The school was established in 1552 in London but moved to the current site in 1902. As detailed in Sussex Exclusive, “The school has always had a very specific mission, which started as providing education to the poor and has evolved into providing a transformative educational experience and opportunities to children who otherwise might not be able to access them.” Today, the school is home to 900 pupils (an equal mix of boys and girls) and continues to enjoy state of the art facilities and provide children from all backgrounds with an outstanding education that would otherwise be beyond their means.
Turning our attention back to the walk, closely located to Christ’s Hospital is Sharpenhurst Hill, one of the best places to look out over West Sussex. After you have crossed the railway and journeyed through the small yet pleasant wood, you can climb atop the Hill. On a clear day, you can see Leith Hill Tower towards the North, and follow the South Downs towards the coast. At the top of the hill is a mysterious, fenced-off mound, with very little signage indicating what lies within. Within the concrete structure and below your feet remains a magnificent underground reservoir that was built to supply the local school with water.
If you are ready to turn back and head for home, you can either follow the same path you ventured out on, or follow one of the numerous other little alleyways and paths that find themselves back in Southwater.
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