Woodlands in the High Weald walk and a Sussex Bonfire extravaganza (38366)
This is a full day event, with a day walk of just over 12 miles followed by the spectacular display of torched procession, fireworks and grand bonfire of the last major Sussex bonfire event of the 2017 season. Those who just wish to do the walk can certainly do this as the walk is circular.
Each October and November, Sussex celebrates the bonfire season and for enthusiasts, there is a parade, grand bonfire and firework display most weekends during this time culminating in what has traditionally become the last of all, Robertsbridge, which means that many societies from all over East and West Sussex come to join the extremely impressive procession.
The idea for today was to allow Outdoor Lads to enjoy the above festivities but to give everyone a good day out as well.
At this time of the year, the countryside is also very appealing as the remnants of the leaves finally fall and Winter looms. The walk today takes us through five woodlands and alongside four more, plus numerous stands of copses and hedges. Two of the woods, Barnes and Footlands are open access land and great dog walking territory, while Brede High woods belongs to the Woodland Trust and includes fenced areas grazed and maintained by ponies.
Staplecross, the geographically highest point of the walk commands good views as we traverse the countryside around it and it also houses the funny little shelter in which we had lunch on a previous Outdoor Lads walk.
The walk starts in the village, which will look very different between the beginning and end of the walk. Please take particular note of the parking suggestions in the meeting section. Our first wood, Park Wood is our entry to the now stripped hop garden (hop plantations are called gardens, not fields) and then open countryside to a quiet country lane which is the lead to Barnes and Footland Woods.
After that we pass a vineyard and mill and eventually enter the Brede High Wood and Streetfield Wood where we will hopefully see the ponies grazing.
Beyond that is a gradual ascent to Staplecross where we may stop for a quick drink at the local pub if it is open. The fireplace is worth a look; it is so big they can drag small tree trunks into it.
After that we follow a bridle path around the edge of the very large Lordship Wood which brings us eventually, past the ruins of Robertsbridge Abbey, to Salehurst where we will kill a bit of time in the award winning and Camra recommended pub, the Salehurst Halt.
From here it will be a short walk down a country lane, hopefully in semi darkness so a torch might be a good idea, back into Robertsbridge.
Depending on what time this happens, the roads may well have been closed preparatory to the procession and people will be walking along them. We will return to the station so that people who wish to leave then can do so.
I will have my vehicle parked close to the station and outside of the road closure area in case anybody wants to leave rucksack etc. for the duration of the displays. There are two pubs in Robertsbridge and a working mens club and all will be rammed for much of the time. The shop visible in one photo will probably be open and selling tinnies etc. The agenda is that a big torchlit procession leaves the station at around 7pm, the enormous bonfire will be lit about an hour later followed by the grand firework display culminating in the blowing up of the effigy- the exact nature of which is a secret until the day. An example from maybe two years ago is shown. The whole event is free but there will be bucket rattlers wandering around!
What to bring
Please be aware that in Autumn it will be muddy so good boots are a necessity, along with waterproofs, just in case. As one of the photos show, the bonfire celebrations normally go ahead regardless of the weather. If you have a small torch that might be a good idea but most places are well lit in and near the village.
For your comfort and safety please be prepared for the anticipated weather and the terrain of the walk - keep in mind the following:
Boots: Hiking boots that are both waterproof and breathable, and provide good ankle support, are important as soon as you encounter any mud. Cross trainers may suffice in good weather and flat routes.
Socks: Proper walking socks keep your feet dry, and help prevent blisters.
Walking Trousers: (ideally water resistant) will be more comfortable than Jeans which are heavy and cold when wet. From April to October shorts are usually a better bet.
Waterproof Over-Trousers: essential in any significant rainfall. Breathable ones are best.
Layered clothing: allows you to quickly adapt to changes in the weather as well as body temperature. E.g. a base layer or a cotton T-Shirt; a mid layer like a micro fleece, or a rugby type thick shirt, and in cooler weather an outer layer consisting of a windproof jacket or a thick fleece.
Waterproof Jacket: essential when hiking in all but the calmest of weather. You get what you pay for with these. Breathable fabrics are advisable.
Hat: essential both in mid winter to preserve heat and in summer to prevent sunburn and heatstroke.
Gloves: essential in frosty weather.
Small Rucksack: One that is comfortable to wear is essential so that you can use your arms freely. Place valuables in water proof bags inside.
Sunglassses: April- Sept: comfortable sunglasses enhance your pleasure and keep insects out of the eye
Water: even in winter one can loose a litre or more of fluid by perspiration. If you fail to make this up you'll get dehydrated which can lead to headaches and other problems. A hydration bladder is easier to use than bottled water, but higher maintenance.
Food: a packed lunch will be required unless otherwise stated. In addition carry energy bars or similar to counter 'sugar lows'.
Medicines: If you have allergies, are diabetic, or have minor ailments don't forget these!
Food & Drink
Please bring a packed lunch and enough water to sustain you for the day. We will pass Robertsbridge village shops and there is a shop in Staplecross as well.
Meeting & Times
Is this your first ever event?
The idea of meeting up with a group of complete strangers to be taken for a long walk on an unknown route through unfamiliar countryside can be daunting for some, but hopefully the following helpful guideline will set your mind at rest:
To take a place: Log in and click the 'Book Now' button.
Travel and lifts: If you can offer a lift or need one, use the event forum below! NB The anticipated end time cannot be guaranteed so if buying pre-timed tickets for return travel allow plenty of margin.
Event limits: These are set to satisfy our insurers, and by popular consent. If the event is full when you register, you will appear on the 'waiting list'. Places often become available at short notice and are filled on a first-registered, first-served basis. Your profile messaging settings can enable you to receive a prompt should this happen. Many day walk events do have space when the day comes along.
Changes of plan: Please make sure you are able to go. If circumstances have changed please be courteous and un-register quickly! This will free up a space for someone else.
What about the weather: OutdoorLads events usually go ahead whatever the weather. If you are properly kitted out then rain, cold, or wind won't bother you. If there’s a severe weather warning and we do postpone, the event page will alter to clearly show this and the leader will send you a private message. In case of doubt, always check the website before setting off.
If you can't make it: Ideally if you realise you cannot make a walk please unregister on the event page in the first instance. This gives somebody else the chance to take your place. If you decide or find out at the last minute, i.e. on the actual day of the event that you cannot come, please call or ideally text Owen Clutton on 07939 763223. This late withdrawal will almost certainly mean that the place is wasted as it is too late for someone on the waiting list to be notified.
If you are late: Latecomers keep everyone else standing about, and upset the event timing meaning people miss trains home etc., so the event will normally start on time. Sometimes we can advise a place you can meet us further along the route but this is very difficult to do on a circular route in the countryside. So if you are delayed, to contact the leader call or text Owen Clutton on 07939 763223 so he knows - if he has a signal.
During the event: It may seem obvious, but please keep with the group. People who go on ahead or lag behind can upset others, and make it hard for the leader. The walk difficulty indicator gives an idea of how fit you need to be. If you feel ill or have a problem do tell the leader straight away; if you need to drop out there may be a place you can wait for a lift, or catch a bus back. If you need to stop briefly please tell someone, so you are not left behind.
Route plans: please note these are only a guide. The leader may modify the route on the day due to various factors. Please do not try to rendezvous with us, as we cannot guarantee we will be anywhere at a particular place or time.
If it's your first event: Don't worry! OutdoorLads members come from all walks of life and are as varied as our events. You will meet some nice mates and have a great time. The Event Leader will ensure you are made welcome and introduced to others. Do feel free to message the leader and ask to meet beforehand if you wish. Please see the first event message above.
Keeping in touch afterwards: You can message people you made friends with, using the links on the 'who's going' tab and ask to become friends with them if you wish so that you can find them again on the web site.
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