Tag Archives: Cooksbridge

Sheffield Park and Tea Room

2 Feb

The walk

A very cold bright day and my daughter and I were glad of the heated seats in the drive in to Plumpton College this morning.

She was in a good mood and I had no trouble getting her out of the car and off for an exciting morning of looking at graffiti in Brighton. I have decided to revisit Sheffield Park today, after discovering it on a family day out over Christmas. That time we had paid to look around the National Trust gardens and enjoyed lunch in the tea room. I felt it had been quite an expensive day out, even with one of us getting in free as my daughter’s carer. I suppose it depends how long you intend to spend looking round or whether you have a young person with you that essentially you are just going to chase around the gardens for an hour. I did notice, on this previous visit, that as well as a lovely tea room, there was parkland you could explore for free. This is what I decided to do today.

Sheffield Park

I was surprised by the number of cars in the car park at 9.30 on a cold, February Monday morning, but it is a popular place and over the Christmas holidays there was quite a queue for the tearoom. I already had my map, flask of coffee, and warm walking gear (though I was down to one pair of gloves as Dear Daughter (who had decided upon leaving the house that she didn’t need gloves), snaffled a pair of mine on arrival at college.

I opted for the ‘long walk’ – about 1.5 miles – so this is ideal for families or slower/less able walkers – there is also a ‘short walk’ of about a mile, and the East Park circular walk which certainly doesn’t look longer than 2 mikes. I was straight into a field of livestock- heifers – urgh – not my favourite – so I skirted around them, following the signs and map as best I could. The Bluebell Railway is a short walk away and it was nice to hear the train whistle and see the plume of steam from the train. You could do a nice combined day out, parking at Sheffield Park, walking over the parkland to the Bluebell Railway and walking back via the natural play trail for a fun day out with kids.

I was relieved to leave the heifer field and enter St George’s which was full of sheep, both the signage and map (from the National Trust visitor centre) are very good and easy to follow. I took a little diversion from the long walk to have a look at Ringwood Toll, natural play trail, lots of fun to be had here, including building dens out of sticks, tightrope walking, and storytelling in the hut.

Ringwood Toll

Ringwood Toll Natural Play Trail

Ringwood Toll

Wigwam fun!

Ringwood Toll

Tightrope walking at Ringwood Toll

Ringwood Toll

Storytelling Hut

The landscape wasn’t so spectacular, it is parkland, after all, and mainly fields of livestock, with small wooded copse, no great views either, but pleasant. There were signs to the Wildlife Haven and river which may have been more interesting, but I will save those for another day. There are plenty of birds, if you are interested in them, robins, magpies and crows and I think I heard a woodpecker.

Sheffield Park

Lower Woman’s Way Pond

I looped back round to the car, after a quick look at Lower Woman’s Way Pond, and I was glad to get back for a warm-up and flask of coffee in the car, as although there were lots of benches on the way round (good, again for less able walkers) I was not tempted to stop and get a frozen bottom!

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After a break I decided to explore the shops I had seen signs for on the way in. I had seen at least four signs, and had thought there were at least two shops (apart from the National Trust visitor centre, selling the usual gift items) but I think there is only one other, called ‘All Wine and Roses’ a nursery and wine shop. I followed the signs up to it, however, it didn’t seem very open. Looked like a quirky place, to buy plants, architectural salvage and wine imported from France.

All Wine and Roses

Nursery at Sheffield Park

Sheffield Park

Not sure what this is about?

All wine and roses

The lunch

Nothing for it now but to hit the tea room, which is currently undergoing refurbishment. We sat in the large Oak Hall, usually reserved for functions, nice and grand, if a little dark.

Tea Room at Sheffield Park

Oak Hall Tea Room

I had leek and potato soup with a hunk of brown bread – if I’m honest, the soup was a little tasteless, but the bread certainly was a hunk, and quite good value for £4.50. As it is now after midday the tearoom is filling up with mums and toddlers and retired folks. I will come again!

Sheffield Park Tea Room

Cooksbridge and Holmansbridge Farm Shop

19 Nov

The run

Another inauspicious start to the day.

I had decided to do a recovery walk today after running the Brook’s 10k yesterday, gaining a personal best of 48:06 (last year 51:46). I suppose it helps to be a stone lighter and not hungover!
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I began my research with finding a farm shop that is open on Mondays and then found a walk nearby. I decided to go back to Holmansbridge Farm shop which I haven’t visited in about a year.

The walk I found began and ended in Cooksbridge a small village on the A275 which I have driven through many times. It has its own railway station and is mainly made up of modern houses – a commuter village, however according to SussexVillage.net it derived its name from the cooks who fed the soldiers of Simon de Montfort on their way to the battle of Lewes in 1264.
Having read through the walk instructions I felt confident that it would be an easy one but I also had the route plotted on Outdoors Great Britain as back-up. Not a day for getting lost, as although the rain was not heavy it was continuous.

Cooksbridge
The walk began by crossing the railway line and heading off between the houses down to a stream and then up onto some water logged fields.

Cooksbridge

Once again I was glad to have decided on wellington boots. Crossed the railway line once again (freaked me out a bit – an unmanned crossing with signs for the Samaratins either side!

Cooksbridge

And minutes after I crossed a train came charging through!

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The instructions were easy to follow for the most part, with slight confusion at the gap in the hedge and diagonally crossing the field to Hawsey Manor. A bit of walking on the road here, but so quiet! On mornings like this you can truly imagine yourself in the Zombie Apocalypse. Small birds (chaffinch?) flitted ahead of me down the lane, marking my progress. I also saw a rabbit in the field and ducks on the River Ouse.

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I continued down this lane until Ivor’s Lane and a finger post to the River Ouse. Walking along the muddy embankment, this section was quite familiar to me, as I have run or walked it several times on different routes (from Lewes and Southease ). Very desolate this morning.

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Finally turning off under the railway bridge and heading up the Old Coach Road towards The Blacksmiths Arms.

You can imagine rattling along in an old stage coach on the Old Coach Road

You can imagine rattling along in an old stage coach on the Old Coach Road

From here it was a short walk along the main road back to Cooksbridge, however, the rain was coming down hard, and I passed an old stone bus shelter with a nice bench inside and so decided to stop and have my coffee and snack – a pumpkin energy ball and hope for the rain to ease.

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Inside the bus shelter was printed the interesting story of how it came about. Apparently a committee decided in 1935 that a bus shelter should be erected near the church timed to coincide with the Jubilee celebrations of King George V and Queen Mary. Work was started on the foundations shortly afterwards and Lady Shiffner agreed to pay for the wooden bench (on which I am sitting) to go inside. The shelter was not completed in time for the Jubilee celebrations and so the bench was put in place and a ribbon cut by Lady Shiffner. The bench was then removed to the carpenter’s shop where it remained for the next year. There were various hold-ups in the building of the shelter and a year later the committee complained it had reached a standstill and that this was a very poor state of affairs. One reason for the delay was that the road had been re-levelled and was considerably higher than before. The shelter was finally completed in time for the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, two years later in 1937.

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The farm

Afterwards I drove to Holmansbridge farm shop which I haven’t visited for a year. Once again they have their large wooden turkey out, advertising their Christmas turkeys. It was with a pang of guilt that I watched the turkey flock from the yard.
The farm shop itself is quite small, mainly consisting of a large meat counter, a large refrigerated area containing cheese, cured meats, smoked salmon and some fruit and vegetables. The rest of the shop has sauces, condiments, tea, coffee, home-made cakes and unrefrigerated fruits and vegetables.
I took my time looking around even though the butcher eagerly approached the counter as I entered. I bought some fruit and vegetables,

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a brand of tea I had not previously seen (I have just had a cup of this and it is really delicious)

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and some smoked salmon. I was interested to see the addition of venison on the meat counter, but having had venison mince delivered in my meat and veg box this week I bought some chicken instead.

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I still had plenty of time before picking dear daughter up, so I decided to go over to Spring Barn Farm to do some Christmas shopping.
Their Christmas shop is now open and the staff were happy to show me their outhouse containing Christmas lights and the area in which their fresh Christmas trees would go.  They have lots of food gifts and hampers and a large selection of Christmas decorations. I looked around for some gifts but couldn’t quite decide on anything. I also enquired about Christmas cakes and they showed me some beautifully decorated ones made by a lady in Worthing, however these were quite small and rather expensive but they did say they would find out a price for an 8″ one. In the end I bought some more ready meals: my son had the black turtle bean chilli for dinner, he said it had a nice spiciness but could have been a little more flavourful. I also bought some smoked Haddock from Springs (it was a toss up between this and the rabbit – so I reckon my husband got off lightly!)

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The lunch

Lunch was eaten in the car: today a tofu salad. My son had bought the tofu as an experiment, but I’m not sure. It was ok but I don’t think I’ll be buying it again. This was with leftover roast sweet potato and an orange dressing.

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Berwick and Chilley Farm Shop

14 May

The run

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Have done a few runs around this area now, starting at Firle usually, but this one started at Berwick and headed off up the Downs in a ‘knee cracker’ of a run as my husband would put it! Up to the top of the Downs and then a gentle run back down before Alfriston.

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Beautiful scenery all around and only met a few people on the route; a plane passed overhead, a mountain biker whizzed past and I stopped to ask directions from a lady with a dog. Beautiful run through fields with the spire of Berwick church on the horizon.

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A few thoughts of serial killers flitted through as I passed through the jungle area at the foot if the Downs, but were soon replaced with elation as I took in the breathtaking views.

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Machetes at the ready!

Berwick church was a treat. A painting group were milling around the churchyard and inside, which emboldened me to go in and see the wonderful murals of Duncan Grant, Quentin Bell and Vanessa Bell.

The farm

From there I drove onward to Polegate. It’s funny as I grew up in Scotland near places called Polegate and Berwick. I headed up a windy track to Chilley Farm Shop for refreshments. There I found a wonderful little farm shop, cafe and dog grooming parlour and I immediately ordered my second breakfast! I was starving after the run and hadn’t had a snack and flask of coffee as usual.

Second breakfast

Second breakfast

Sitting in the beautiful sunshine at one of the outside picnic tables I was amused by a troupe of cheeky sparrows all egging each other on who could go on the table and beg a crumb or two.

After my delicious breakfast I wandered around the farm where they had a few goats, pigs and chickens on display and a small children’s playground.

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In the farm shop itself, all was industry – a butcher worked at the back while two women made pies behind the serving counter. A good meat counter, selection of vegetables and a freezer of pies, breads and scones as well as all the usual jams, chutneys and sauces. I decided to buy three small frozen pies for the freezer and a couple of fruit scones.

Back, and arriving a little early to the Offham farm shop (all roads lead to Offham!) for a cup of tea and a slice of (the biggest piece of) Millionaire shortbread (ever).

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Barcombe and Holmansbridge Farm Shop

13 Nov

The run

A beautiful, sunny, slightly frosty day after two days of heavy rain. I parked on the High Street at Barcombe which consisted of a couple of shops and a pub, with the intention of following a route I’d found on Walk Jog Run – of course that’s if you have an internet connection *sigh* why didn’t I print the map off (“the old ways are the true ways”). Decided to have a quick reccie of the village as I never seem to be able to follow other people’s routes anyway so seeing the route probably wouldn’t make much difference. Looked at a couple of noticeboards to see whether any walks or routes were advertised but it was only the usual notices about playgroups and filling shoeboxes to send to Romania. Had a wander round the village taking in the village hall and the yummy mummies arriving for playgroup. The school and recreation ground. Decided to take a lap of the recreation ground which led me on to a few allotments and the Barcombe wild project.

Wild about Barcombe

Wild about Barcombe

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It looked like an imaginative project to keep the local youth engaged featuring dens, tyre obstacles, walkways and balancing boards. Ran round a couple of times trying out all the various obstacles before heading down the field crossing a bridge and heading along a very muddy track following the telegraph poles.

Barcombe

Met a few dog walkers and everyone was very chatty and friendly – no scary thoughts today. Followed the track onwards through some very boggy bits – that feeling when water flows into your trainers and suddenly you’re running, your feet squelching in wet socks. (Note to self: bring spare socks!)

Wet socks

White socks were not a good idea

The path didn’t run out before I wanted to turn back so I decided to investigate every path, stile and bridge on the return journey. The first I saw was a very muddy path leading down into some woods, I followed it and immediately met a man of the huntin’ shootin’ fishin’ brigade walking his dog. I asked him if I could get back to the village via the woods and he gave me good directions. Lovely run through the woods, following a field round and hopping over a few stiles back to the village. 

The farm

Holmansbridge Farm Shop

A large turkey made out of a hay bail greeted me at the entrance to Holmansbridge Farm Shop and I was met by a friendly black and white spaniel as I got out of the car. On entering the farm shop I was immediately attended to though I just wanted to look around. The shop consisted of mainly a large meat counter, which looked like very good quality produce, especially the cuts of beef, venison and unusual sausages such as Thai flavoured. Apart from the meat they make pies, scotch eggs and sausage rolls. A few homemade cakes, bottled soft drinks and Bay Tree sauces and chutneys. Not much to browse and with the husband’s words ringing in my ears ‘Buy cheese!’ as he thrust a £20 note in my hand, I selected a green gammon, several varieties of cheese and a seeded loaf. My overall impression was the shop seemed quite high-end, mainly a butchers with a good, professional service. Orders were being taken for Christmas turkeys. 

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The lunch

On to the Rainbow Inn at the junction leading to Barcombe. I have passed this pub a few times on my travels around this area and it never looked up to much from the outside. The menu outside looked quite posh and quite expensive (£11-18 for a main). Not masses of choice on the menu which I always think is a good sign. I chose roast fillet of sea bass nicoise style with fine beans and a poached egg (£17).

Sea Bass at the Rainbow Inn

Very attentive service and a crackling fire awaited me inside. The dining room was properly set up with all the tables laid although it was early and very quiet. In fact aside from myself and the staff, the only people in were a group of tweed jacketed chaps having a meeting and I got the impression they may have just taken the place over. The food was very nice and well presented though the green olives were perhaps a bit overwhelming. I felt slightly intimidated when I realised I had used the wrong knife and fork and managed to squirt my top with exploding roast cherry tomato! Overheard one of the waiting staff saying they had new owners, so I was right. The staff need a bit more training so they don’t serve the same table twice (first one, then the other, asked me about dessert and I heard it happen at another table too – better than being ignored though!) finished the meal with a pot of lemon verbena tea. (It reminded me of pregnancy yoga classes.) Oh dear, while I was drinking my tea, the couple at the adjacent table had to send back their fish and chips for being uncooked in the middle – they said the batter was nice though! I think for the price I would go for the Half Moon at Plumpton, though this would be worth trying again in a few months once the new owners have settled in.

Lemon verbena tea

Tasted like the tea we used to get at pregnancy yoga