Wednesday, September 25, 2013


Shermanbury Walk. Sussex.

The walk went wrong; it was meant to be a short stroll of a mile or so.
We allowed ourselves a detour and then later got lost.
We have one of the new large scale maps - but somehow footpaths on the map don't always tally with footpaths on the ground.
We walked much further than planned. Sometimes we were not on footpaths at all and generally we lost a sense of direction. The worst bit was when we fought our way through shoulder high stinging nettles and reeds towards a footbridge which linked with a footpath that we thought should be the one.
I was sure we must be heading towards The Bull, but we were walking further and further away.
I have tried to trace our route on the map, but I am still unsure.
I think we must have been heading towards Wineham or Twineham.
Fortunately a gentleman came out of his house, wondering just what we ere doing there and directed us back the way we had come and how we could find the path back to The Bull.
Relief......but it was a long way back.
My pictures seem to reflect our pleasures more than our anxiety and weary legs.

The River Adur.
The bridge over The Adur is just yards from The Bull.
The area and the bridge are known as Mockbridge.
This is believed to derive from an early word for donkey....."moke".

A short distance from the bridge we came to the bridleway and gates which led across Shermanbury Park and would reach the church.
It has been a tarred road, but these days is in less good repair.

We got a bit side tracked by dead or dying trees.

Shermanbury Place.
Half a mile or more away from the main road,

The church is next door to Shermanbury Place.

And next door on the other side we find an abandoned garage/stables.

There were just 2 houses lived in at this point......far from civilisation! Well, quite far from The Bull and much further from the thriving communities of Henfield or Partridge Green.

I am guessing this little beauty who almost dared me to disturb him, lived in one of the houses.

And so we crossed back over The River Adur.
It should have been so easy to find the footpath that we wanted. But we didn't.
"Surely it should go over there" we mused.
So we struggled across a field of tufted grasses and reeds, very uneven and I feared twisting my ankle and falling.
And once "over there", we knew we were wrong. I just didn't want to struggle back across that field; not when we could see a footbridge about 50 yards away, which surely would be on the right footpath!
And so it was that we hacked a path through a "jungle" - a jungle of tall reeds, stinging nettles and other tall plants.
It was hard going......but we felt it would be worth it.
And yes, we found a footpath.
Now we would soon be back............or not!
I had not bothered with my camera as we made a path through the "jungle" - my arms were held up, to avoid the stinging nettles.

The footpath was better - but very overgrown.

We saw prosperous farms, but no people.
We did deviate from designated footpaths - going towards one of the farms instead.
As we passed cottages - not agricultural labourers cottages these days - we were spotted.
A gentleman was a bit suspicious of us.....he could sense that were in the wrong place.
But he was helpful and told us how to get back to The retracing our steps for some distance.
That is so depressing - retracing steps when you are beginning to feel tired.

And here was the place where we turned on to the path we should have been on in the first place.

We knew it was right because we were greeted by a smiley face!

Cows in the water meadows by Mockbridge.

Just a weary climb over the stile and back to The Bull.

I have to admit that I still can't make Shermanbury out.
Along the main road are  three plots of bungalows, 1920s or 30s , I would guess.
There are some big house and flourishing farms - all tucked away from the main road.
What sort of community was it centuries ago? Indeed what sort of community is it now?

I have been to Shermanbury  before in my life - over 50 years ago.
I have been in Shermanbury Grange twice.
The religious knowledge teacher in my school created jazz services and such like, Great fun and attracted quite a lot of interest.
I can't remember exactly what we did at Shermanbury Grange - except that I presume we thought it was "good works".
At that time The Grange housed a school, a sort of reform school for wayward girls.
It must have touched me because I asked if I could befriend one of the girls. And so Helen and I wrote letters to each other. I must have been a pain to Helen - with talk of my weekends, my friends, my boyfriends and crushes. She would have nothing to write other than her routine.I gather from some research that life for the girls wasn't always good - probably a lot of bullying.
I hope Helen wasn't bullied because of her "posh" friend.
I went to visit her just once.
I spent the afternoon with her and some other girls. They were friendly I know.......but I guess they were aware that I was far removed from their world. It wasn't that I felt superior, I just was too naive to understand.
I hope Helen has done well. Hard to think that she would be about 70 now.