For drone-hunters, a walk westward from Gatwick airport to Ockley station

Dedicated to those at Gatwick considering tracking down and killing the source of their stasis. Features two good drinking establishments, the villages of Charlwood and Capel and the River Mole.

Mill at Charlwood.

Mill at Charlwood. Image: imagesofgb4u.

Walk data

Walking distance17 km / 10.56 miles
Walking time3.4 hr

Other walks, & more on the way: I've been walking to and from airports for longer than Will Self and the route base will gradually materialise here.

Background & itinerary

The geology is chalk and clay – very pretty, but a struggle when combined with heavy rain, which also has explosive effects on the River Mole. The route uses part of the poorly signposted Sussex Borders Path, so compass and map may come in handy. Trains from Ockley to London are currently usually hourly at around :30, trains south (Horsham, splendid views of Arundel castle and the river Arun, Chichester, Portsmouth etc.) are also hourly at around :40. My photos below are some ten years old, and the battery ran out, so I’ve added several CC images from Wikipedia. I don’t know where the drone pilots were operating from, but there are plenty of paths on this side and to the east with decent tree cover and few walkers. Bring back gamekeepers!

  1. If you’ve landed at South Terminal, either take the shuttle to North or walk round the perimeter. If you do the latter, it’s probably easiest to start from the train station. Walk out of it into the terminal, passing the passage to the shuttle on your right. Turn right past WH Smith and walk along the RH side, passing an FX vendor and skirting Costa Coffee or some such. Behind it you will find a door labelled “Local buses”. Take the stairs down and walk straight out of the door at the bottom. Don’t cross the main road on your right, but keep walking straight on, following the perimeter road northwards for about 1km, with, after a while, the shuttle tracks on your right. At the end, still following the perimeter road (don’t take the road that goes into a tunnel), you will pass under the shuttle …

    … and arrive at a large roundabout (with inter alia a Sofitel), which is where our real business starts.

  2. If you’re starting from North Terminal, follow departing traffic with the shuttle tracks over to your right for about 200m and you will arrive at a large roundabout (with inter alia a Sofitel), which is where our real business starts.
  3. Walk clockwise round the roundabout and take not this exit:

    … but the next one, signed Crawley/Redhill A23. Exercising extreme care, walk 400m NW along the bike path along the edge of the A23:

    … until the River Mole hoves into view on your left. Here you can leave the A23 on a small path which takes you over a footbridge:

    If you cross the river on the A23 you have gone too far.

  4. Having crossed the footbridge you will be confronted by a rusty, open gate leading to Travelodge or some such:

    Enter this ONLY if the river path is flooded, in which case exit to the road behind the motel, turn left, and walk 500m along Povey Cross Road to Povey Cross, at which point you will rejoin the main route.

  5. So, instead of entering the gate to Travelodge, double back to the left and walk along the river bank. The woods along the bank to your right are very pretty in spring, and I think the whole rerouting of the Mole post-1999 has worked pretty well.

  6. Shortly after some stepping stones across the river, follow the Sussex Border Path as it exits right through some copse onto the Horley Road.
  7. Still following the SBP, walk left along the road and then, just after two large red-brick semis, follow the SBP right onto a chalk track.

  8. Turn first left (after about 1km) onto another chalk track that takes you past the infant school and the Providence Chapel, Napoleonic military accommodation transplanted from Horsham, to the village of Charlwood’s main street.

    Image: The Voice of Hassocks.

  9. Turn right and walk WNW along the road with the cricket club on your left. The Pine Shop on your right after about 70m does good teas.
  10. 100m later, take the lane to the left labelled Half Moon. Time for beer! The pub is 50m up the lane:

    Image: Colin Smith.

  11. Turn left out of it and through the cemetery of St Nicholas’ church. Continue on this path, later with an old barn on the left, until you reach the road.
  12. Where the path joins the road you may want to go left along the road for a moment to check out the windmill pictured above.
  13. Otherwise, cross the road and carry straight on up Glover’s Road. At the end there is a farm, and there used to be the offices of Aerospace Logistics, where several decommissioned Sea Harriers and other interesting bits of kit could be examined. Alas no more.

    Image: Dan Gregory.

  14. Walk straight through and you will find the path continues at the end. This takes you through Glover’s Wood.
  15. At the very end, after about 1200 m, turn left along Partridge Lane
  16. Turn right (west) along a lane called Duke’s Road next to a house called East Lodge / Boothland Farm
  17. After a bridge, take the second left, continuing on Duke’s Rd due west.
  18. You should come out in 800m on Rusper Road next to a mock Tudor lodge. If you come out elsewhere, you’re too far north, so adjust accordingly
  19. Turn right on Rusper Road towards Taphouse Farm, but after a few metres turn left on a footpath through a double gate which in a mile, travelling due-ish west, takes you to Temple Lane, just south of Aldhurst Farm.
  20. Turn right up Temple Lane and at Aldhurst Farm visit the excellent Dorking Brewery, which Monday-Saturday, 9-5 will have something pleasant for you to take away, and for all I know may already have a taproom.
  21. Head down the a footpath opposite Aldhurst Farm and exit onto the Street in Capel. Here I recommend making a detour to the right to the village centre and in particular St. John the Baptist’s, pictured here before its Victorian reform:

    Image: Thomas Girtin.

  22. Turn left on the Street then right on Cole’s Lane which crosses the A24 to take you to Ockley station.

    Image: Andrew Longton.

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