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A footpath along the edge of the gently flowing Rother, fringed with ancient trees and low lying plants
Enjoy a walk along the gently flowing Rother, fringed with ancient trees | © Fiona Scully

Woolbeding, River Rother and Midhurst walk

Woolbeding Estate is a hidden countryside gem, situated in the South Downs National Park near historic Midhurst. The walk starts in the heart of Midhurst and takes in the beauty of Woolbeding Parkland. Follow the River Rother, edged with ancient trees. Pass a plantation of whispering poplars and hear the sounds of the weir before returning to Midhurst's main street and your choice of two pubs to finish off the walk.

Total steps: 8

Total steps: 8

Start point

Wheatsheaf inn, Wood Lane, Midhurst GU29 9BX, or Half Moon inn, Petersfield Lane, Midhurst, GU29 9LL

Step 1

From the Wheatsheaf head down Midhurst High Street and take the immediate left turn up June Lane. Follow the lane uphill for about 1 mile, past a bowls club and tennis club, then down past a large black barn to your right, until you reach the main road and the Half Moon inn. Take care as there is no footpath. Unusual for this region is an exposure of rock which you can see on the right-hand side just before the peak of the rise, where tree roots grow over and between the strata.

Beside the Wheatsheaf pub in Midhurst, looking down busy East Street
Beside the Wheatsheaf | © Stephen Hoar

Step 2

As June Lane reaches the busy A272, you will have the Half Moon inn to your left. Looking west along this side of the A272 you will just see a bus stop, as you follow the waymarker into a narrow footpath through a bracken and bramble thicket, which bears right and leads you to a stile. Cross over the stile and head down the path, keeping the tall trees to your right. At the National Trust access gate you will see a signpost for the Rother walk – turn left here into the parkland.

Almost hidden turning to Woolbeding Parkland
Track to Woolbeding Parkland | © Stephen Hoar

Step 3

You are now in the heart of Woolbeding Parkland with the meandering Rother down below to your left. These fields are grazed by Sussex cows and Herdwick sheep. Turn right and follow the path into Whiphill Wood. Embrace the finest views of the Rother valley with the picturesque Woolbeding Church, and a lake ringed by rushes, shrubs and reeds. You may see some geese and swans and possibly the quick flash of a kingfisher. The lake is nestled within old pasture punctuated by mighty oaks.

Rich, flower-filled pasture in Woolbeding Parkland
Flower-filled pasture at Woolbediing | © Stephen Hoar

Step 4

Leave Whiphill Wood and the quirky folly in its shadows, and continue diagonally down across the field to its far left corner. Follow the Rother walk signposts. You will have a strip of streamside woodland on your left and interconnected arable fields on your right. About three-quarters of the way along the edge of the second field, turn left at the waymarker post that leads you into the woods and nearer the river. This opens into a lovely wetland full of reedmace, willow and rushes.

Quirky folly, looking back into the shadows of Whiphill Wood
Folly in the shadows of Whiphill Wood | © Stephen Hoar

Step 5

Enjoy the elevated views from the boardwalk as it crosses the insect-rich vegetated margin, then continue along the riverside. Watch out for dancing banded demoiselles in summer. These are a type of damselfly that live and breed along flowing water. The males have characteristic dark blue wings.

Two styles of signage, as you start along the boardwalk
The boardwalk | © Stephen Hoar

Step 6

Tall spare poplars, silvery and bare in winter, otherwise alive with crisp, olive and grey leaves, that move and rustle together in the slightest wind.The river is lined with alder trees, which thrive in wet ground. The trembling leaves of poplars whisper to one another with a sound like rain.

Poplars, rustling in any breeze beside the Rother
Poplars flanking the river | © Stephen Hoar

Step 7

Leaving the dry sussuration of the poplars and alders, you follow a narrow riverside path, in cool shade and hearing ever more clearly the river. The music of the flow changes as it narrows, bends, and goes over at least one weir; then, as it nears Midhurst High Street, it loops beside gravel banks and discharges into a swirling pool.

Step 8

Turn right at the road. Having trod the riverside way, you can now enjoy the rich experience of Midhurst market town. You will see Cowdray Ruins opposite and the Rother Academy with the plaque commemorating HG Wells. The building with yellow windows shows it belongs to the Cowdray estate. There are plenty of cafés and small shops to savour and enjoy. Public toilets are near the bus stop and car park. Continue along the high street until you return to the Wheatsheaf inn. Turn left at June Lane and continue up the hill if you are finishing at the Half Moon.

End point

Wheatsheaf inn, Wood Lane, Midhurst GU29 9BX, or Half Moon inn, Petersfield Lane, Midhurst, GU29 9LL

Trail map

Map route for Woolbeding Countryside River Rother and Midhurst walk
Map route for Woolbeding Countryside River Rother and Midhurst walk | © Crown copyright and database rights 2013 Ordnance Survey

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Get in touch

South Downs West Estate Yard, Linch Road, Woolbeding, West Sussex, GU29 0QB

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We’ve partnered with Cotswold Outdoor to help everyone make the most of their time outdoors in the places we care for.

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