Walking

Walking trail

Woolbeding Countryside - River Rother and Midhurst

Walking trail

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.

This walk was laid out and signposted in conjunction with the South Downs National Park.

A footpath along the edge of the gently flowing Rother, fringed with ancient trees and low lying plants

Map

Map route for Woolbeding Countryside River Rother and Midhurst walk

Start:

Wheatsheaf Inn, GU29 9BX or Half Moon Inn, GU29 9LL

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 & a tennis club, then down past a large black barn to your right, until you reach the main road and Half Moon pub. 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.

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Beside the Wheatsheaf pub in Midhurst, looking down busy East Street

2

As June Lane reaches the busy A272, you will have the Half Moon pub to your left. Looking west along this side of the A272 you will just see a bus-stop, as you follow the way marker 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.

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Almost hidden turning to Woolbeding Parkland

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.

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Rich, flower-filled pasture in Woolbeding Parkland

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

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 which live and breed along flowing water. The males have characteristic dark blue wings.

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Two styles of signage, as you start along the boardwalk

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.

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Poplars, rustling in any breeze beside the Rother

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, & goes over at least one weir; then, as it nears Midhurst High Street, it loops beside gravel banks and discharges into a swirling pool. This vigorous and aerated stretch is a fine habitat for xx & xx, and the species that thrive on them, such as xx & xx

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A grey wagtail on the Rother

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 pub. Turn left at June Lane and continue up the hill if you are finishing at the Half Moon. You deserve another drink...

End:

Wheatsheaf Inn, GU29 9BX or Half Moon Inn, GU29 9LL

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Woolbeding Countryside - River Rother and Midhurst

Terrain

No steep gradients, surface is pavement, tarmac lane and sometimes muddy riverside unsurfaced path - in one place raised above boggy ground by a non-slip boardwalk. Buggies will need to be lifted over one stile. Dogs welcome under close control as livestock graze in surrounding fields. No dog bins, so please take dog litter home.

Woolbeding Countryside - River Rother and Midhurst

Contact us

Woolbeding Countryside - River Rother and Midhurst

How to get here

Address
Woolbeding Estate Office
By train

The nearest  stations are at Haslemere and Petersfield - each about eight miles away; see the National Rail journey planner.

By road

Midhurst is on the A272, between Petworth and Petersfield, and the A286 between Haslemere and Chichester. The most suitable car-park (two hours free) adjacent to The Wheatsheaf is off Grange Lane, 50 metres East of the crossing of the A272 & A286. There is also a car park at The Half Moon, off the A272 towards Petersfield.

By bus

Midhurst Bus Station has excellent and regular bus services.

By bicycle

Chichester is on Sustrans National Route 22  From Chichester take Centurion Way to West Dean - a delightful bicycle way following a disused railway up the West Dean; Midhurst is a further 6 miles or so Northward on the A286.

Woolbeding Countryside - River Rother and Midhurst

Facilities and access

  • Midhurst has a number of cafes and tea shops just a mile from the parkland in the southern part of the estate (Not NT)
  • Public toilets by the tourist information office in Midhurst (Not NT)
  • Car park: Older Hill