Section 23 Out
Handcross to Faygate
|OS Explorer 134 Crawley & Horsham
|6 miles/ 3 hours
|The Red Lion in Handcross
|This is a challenging section. There are no public footpaths going west from Handcross and equally none from the east into Faygate or Colgate. However there are two large estates adjoining Handcross and Faygate which allow general access to local walkers and this walk makes use of them. This makes for demanding mapreading and careful navigation. Finally the busy A264 dual carriageway has to be crossed on the flat. This is a daunting operation and only to be attempted by those with some agility. Take time and be patient, there is no margin for error. There are some excellent woodland paths, great views and some rewarding walking.
With the Red Lion on the right, walk out of the village bearing right at all road junctions. Soon cross a bridge over the A23 and keep on along the pavement. Pass the last house on the right and keep on with a hedge on the right. The pavement comes to an end at a driveway on the right by the entrance to a house called Truckers Hatch. Turn right up the drive to a gate. (The next mile is in Hoadlands Wood which is private land but with permissive paths.).
Go through a pedestrian entrance by the side of the gate and continue down the asphalt drive for ½ mile. Eventually cross a bridge by a lake on the right. Immediately over the bridge turn sharp left down a broad grassy track. Continue along with a stream on the left.
Cross two footbridges and reach a second lake. Follow the edge of the lake to a fork in the path. Either way will do but bear right to go on close to the edge of the lake on the right. Follow this around. Where a stream feeds in from the left cross a long footbridge and bear right to continue to follow the edge of the lake. Eventually reach a wooden gate and emerge between concrete pillars onto a concrete farm road.
Turn right on this uphill. Continue over the top and down the other side. Pass a house set back on the left then look for a footpath going off on the right, over a stile by a metal fieldgate, into a field. Keep along the top edge of the field with a wire fence on the right.
At a corner where the fence swings right, go straight on across the centre of the field, dropping down to the fence at the opposite side. Turn right along the bottom field edge with the fence on the left. Reach a stile but ignore it and keep along the field edge. Just before a corner ahead go through a wooden swing gate on the left into the top of a wooded valley. This is Hyde Gill. It has been landscaped with several paths and picturesque footbridges which is rather confusing.
Through the gate turn right and walk along with the wire fence on the right. Where this stops, bear left down to an old two plank footbridge. Go up the slope at the other side to the top edge of the wood and bear right along as close as possible to the wood edge and a field beyond on the left. Keep on along in this way ignoring any paths dropping down the slope to eventually reach a stile in the fence on the left into a field. Turn right along the edge of the field with the fence and wood on the right.
Keep along the field edge for some way looking for a stile in the fence on the right. Cross this into the wood and bear left through bracken across a corner of woodland to another stile into a field. Bear left, uphill, towards a pylon. Pass the pylon on the right and continue across the centre of the next field to the far opposite corner and a distant farm. On reaching the corner, join a chalky farm track up to a metal fieldgate.
Go through and continue straight up to a second fieldgate. Go through and turn right on the farm road. Pass through the buildings and keep on on a bridleway through several metal equestrian gates. Leave the farm behind and continue along the top edge of a steep valley.
On entering the last field before the end of the valley with a wood at the far side, turn diagonally left downhill to a wooden swing gate in the hedge at the bottom. Go through and cross a footbridge then keep on up a clear path to eventually reach a road junction.
Unfortunately there is no path between here and Colgate. Go straight across to the road opposite, Blackhouse Road, and continue up it, with care, for a mile to a T-junction in Colgate village.
Here turn right. Pass the parish church on the left and immediately turn left off the road on a permissive footpath between fences into Holmbush Forest. The route to Faygate is not on public rights of way.
At the end of a fence on the left, go straight on, up a bank, into trees and soon reach a broad green track. Turn left on this. At a Y-fork bear left on the main track and soon continue in the same direction as before.
At a clearing, ignore side tracks and continue forward and downhill with a netting fence on the right. Eventually approach the gates to the impressive Holmbush House. Just before the gates turn sharp right back down a path which soon reaches a broad grassy track at the bottom. Turn left along, below and parallel to a wall up on the left.
Look across and through the trees on the right to a field beyond. Walk through the trees and into the field. Turn left along the field edge and pass the side of Holmbush House. Keep straight on down the field in front of the house to reach a gravel farm track.
Turn left on this. At a junction turn right and continue down the drive to finally leave the grounds onto the side of the A264 dual carriageway road. Turn left taking special care to reach a designated pedestrian crossing. Wait until no vehicles can be seen until crossing to the centre reservation. Once again wait patiently for a lull in the traffic before crossing. Do not take risks and don’t trip over a walking pole !
Walk down the road at the far side into Faygate. Keep on to a roundabout. Here turn right and follow the road to the Holmbush Inn and the end of the section.