Walking must be the most underrated form of exercise. As well as having so many physical and mental health benefits, it’s the form of exercise that we start our lives with, and the one that many resort to – perhaps having loved other forms of exercise. For me, it was squash (for it’s strategic planning challenge) and long distance running (for the test of mental as well as physical stamina).
Walking is also the form of exercise that gives us the opportunity to step away from daily stresses and immerse ourselves in the moment: the rhythm and senses of our breathing, our steps, and nature.
How lucky those of are who can walk – both physically, and because there are places to walk locally.
Whichever village you start at, this walk begins and ends at a pub. I’d recommend adjusting the route to start at point 7, Rowhook, as this is the nearer village. It is less than a 10 minute’s drive away; also the home of The Chequers – a gastro pub which is justifiably well loved amongst locals.
Other than the Chequers pub, Rowhook lacks any particular focal point – bordering with Warnham, Slinfold and Rudgwick. Rudgwick itself is a rural parish to the North West of Horsham, originally named as ‘Regwick’ (1210), after the ridge of high ground on which the local church sits, overlooking the parish homes, dispersed farms, and many fields. Next to its 13th Century church, Rudgwick’s 18th Century King’s Head is quite different to The Chequers. The King’s Head is a traditional, old style watering hole. Simple food & a warm welcome.
The gentle slopes of the land on this walk, broad fields, lazy sheep and wide skies can result in very special, stunning horizons.
The route passes by several picturesque fishing lakes and magical ancient woodland. Long boots are essential after heavy rain. There can be quite a bit of mud; some of it sinking… Also lots of styles – with very low dog access, so one to avoid if you have a tall four legged friend!
Furnace lakes is a vast fishery, made up of six beautifully landscaped, huge, well maintained lakes which date back more than 350 years. The fishery was taken on by new owners in 2014, and there has been significant investment since to ensure that they provide a beautiful environment, for pleasure fishing. Renowned as one of the top carp and catfish fishing venues in the UK, the lakes are well stocked, reportedly to maximum capacity. Comfort is provided by three lodges, offering facilities for refreshments and toilets and a large bait and tackle shop. In 2007, Furnace Lakes was awarded the record for home of the biggest catfish, when a new rod catch landed a 91lb fish, now estimated to weigh around 114lb +.
The Furnace lakes estates and ancient woodland on this walk are both naturally quiet environments, making for a peaceful walk. And a wonderful place for fishing. As a child, I remember fishing with my father. It was very special time – though that was sea fishing, so altogether different!
See link here for this inspiring (and very muddy if undertaken in Autumn / winter!) ramble.
Jimmy Carter:“Many of the most highly publicized events of my presidency are not nearly as memorable or significant in my life as fishing with my daddy.”