A WALK IN THE PARK
Woolbeding Parkland and Cowdray Park Walk for Dogs
MIDHURST, a small historic market town in West Sussex, England, with fewer than 5000 inhabitants, is now the HQ of the South Downs National Park, an accolade which speaks for itself and which follows on from another made in 2004 by Country Life Magazine naming the town as the most desirable place to live in Southern England. Picture above: start of the River Raft Race at Cowdray Castle on August Bank Holiday Sunday 2009.
If you were to ask anyone what connection, if any, it had with the dog-world they might just come up with ‘the home of Canine Partners’, the charity based in Heyshott, a village just outside town. But, apart from that they’d probably draw a blank
(Prince Harry visits Canine Partners 13th July 2010 - click here)
Most people associate Midhurst with horses as the Home of British Polo is at Cowdray Park ; and it is true there is a burgeoning horse fraternity.
But it is now becoming a major dog walking destination or ‘doggy day out’. And it’s not too difficult to realise why if you’ve been to Midhurst, or live there and witnessed the changes in the past decade.
Thirty years ago Midhurst was a self supporting community with a flourishing retail, pub and restaurant sector. Very few people did their weekly shop elsewhere. Now, with Chichester and other big towns throwing up new developments all the time the competition for trade and for visitors has grown acute. Without any real conscious thought Midhurst has fought back by making the town a honey-trap for day-visitors and tourists especially young families with buggies and dogs.
Midhurst is a very friendly town – yes! there are grumps too – people still have the time and inclination to ‘stand and stare’ and chat to each other, especially if they share dog ownership and love of canine friends.
Everyday scores – maybe hundreds – of dogs get taken down The Castle Causeway, a broad strip of golden Fittleworth sand which leads to Cowdray Castle and The River Rother. Now that The Cowdray Estate have built a prestigeous Food Emporium and Café - officially called The Cowdray Farm Shop – three quarters of a mile away over the polo fields in Easebourne adjoining the A272, dog walkers – and buggy pushchairs – head there for coffee, lunch, & tea. Also for a spot of Fortnums-like food shopping. It hasn’t taken long for word to get around. The site has a 100 space free car park, dog park, children’s play area and bike hire with Posh Pedalers. And, opposite, right across the estate road Cowdray are building a Model Farm.
But the real game-changer has been a voluntary get-together between the Cowdray Estate – it has 16,500 acres – The Academy and Woolbeding Natíonal Trust to form a permissive path over their properties along the south bank of the River Rother, joining up for the first time wonderful parklands on both sides of Midhurst.
Woolbeding Gardens , judged to be world-class, is a gem in the crown of Britain ’s gardens but doesn’t play host to dogs. It’s laborious to get in because you’ve got to pre-book and there is no onsite parking. But for dog walkers the whole of Woolbeding National Trust Parkland – open access land – is a real treat with rolling hills, woods, lake and riverine meadows. And, there is a small NT car park at the junction of the A272 and Woolbeding Lane . The Cowdray Farm Shop and Woolbeding Gardens are like two bookends between which there is a ’shelf’ of parkland second to none in the world with options for circular walks back into town.
The latest circular walk to 'go live' is the Cowdray (Easebourne) - MIdhurst - Woolbeding Walk. Click here for the map, and then go to Cowdray Park Walks for path description.
For those who don’t know this part of West Sussex the area is split up into several huge estates – Cowdray, Petworth, Goodwood, Pitshill, Stansted – which has preserved the landscape and prevented building. You can stand on top of Older Hill near Woolbeding and view the horizon on three sides and not see a road, just lots and lots of rolling countryside. Yet, now the A3 tunnel at Hindhead is open (July 2011) it’ll take little more than an hour to get to Midhurst from West London .
Taking dogs around Midhurst is not a problem. North Street , the main thoroughfare, has broad pavements with cafés with both inside and outside seating areas. Clean, well behaved dogs are welcome inside many cafés or in terrace gardens. Owners with wet dogs after a Rother swim should allow for sitting outside. Garton’s in the old town has a large cobbled area for its roomy outside café. Most pubs have outside seating. The Duke of Cumberland at Henley just outside Midhurst with a huge garden and ponds has views to the Surrey Hills and Blackdown, and plays host to families with dogs. There are several circular 3-4 mile walks to choose from at Henley . They join up with others over the Cowdray Estate.
With so many dog walkers and hikers in town – and horse riders – the retail sector is responding too. Stockley Trading has just taken over a redundant small Tesco’s in North Street and sells a mammoth-range of outdoor clothing and equestrian supplies.
Yes! Midhurst is a doggy town now!
COWDRAY PARK WALKS including Easebourne - Midhurst - Woolbeding Circular Walk.
More on The Midhurst River Walk may be read on www.violetdesigns.co.uk/midhurst_river_walk.htm
Doggy Days out in Cowdray Park .
Midhurst Pages – Town & Community
MIDHURST RIVER WALK - A New Permissive Path links Cowdray Park to Woolbeding National Trust.
If you're planning on staying in Midhurst the whole day your best option is to park free in the Cowdray Estate car park, adjoining the Farm Shop and Café, in Easebourne. There are circa 100 spaces. This gives you the opportunity of visiting Cowdray Castle, Midhurst Town and Woolbeding Parkland. Click here for a map.
As Woolbeding Gardens don't allow dogs you may wish to visit this wonderful, world-class, garden on a different day, You'll need to pre-book on 01730 825415 with admin at Uppark first and work out how you intend to get there (a) park at the NT car park off the A272 and walk (b) walk from Midhurst via The Midhurst River Walk and Woolbeding Parkland or use the Park-and-Rde from Uppark
For a short stay - a few hours only - it's probably best to park either in North St Car Park or The Grange Car Park, both Pay and Display. The charges are low.
This gives you the chance to walk a circular route via The Causeway, River Rother to St Ann's Hill. Thence to the 'Old Town', West Street, Knockhundred Row and North St. Should time permit you can extend your walk to The Cowdray Farm Shop and even go round Cowdray Castle. See map of the Old Town and St Ann's Hill.
Click here for a map of the National Trust at Woolbeding
and The Midhurst River Walk.
VINTAGE MIDHURST - MAY NEED A RETURN VISIT WITHOUT THE DOGGIES.
An exciting new Vintage Tearooms and Exclusive Cake Shop on Rumbolds Hill open 7/7 10.0 - 5.30 pm except Sundays 10.30 - 5.30 pm. Fancy a bag of glorious cup cakes to take home? Tel: 01730 814687
See also Vintage Chic at Revamps,in North St. Marmadukes Vintage Clothes & Collectables on Rumbold Hill and Arnage, The Home of Vintage in West Street. New shop opening early April in North St: Something Different.
Not to be missed! Tie up doggies outside please or leave with one member of your family whilst the others explore. Pavements in Rumbolds Hill are narrow and traffic busy.
[Midhurst Pages] Violet Designs] [South Pond History] [South Pond Spring Clean 1] [South Pond Spring Clean 2] [South Downs National Park] [Cowdray Castle] [Doggy Day Out] [Dog Walks] [Queen Elizabeth Oak Walk] [H.G.Wells Walk] [Midhurst Way] [Midhurst Way Directions]
[Midhurst Way Maps] [Friends of Midhurst Network] [Buggy Pushchair Walks] [Haslemere-Midhurst Walk] [St Ann's Hill Picnic Spot] [South Pond Picnic Spot] [Woolbeding Picnic Spot] Cowdray Castle Picnic Spot] [Cowdray Park Picnic Spot] [Midhurst Empty Shops] [West Street] [Midhurst River Walks & Woolbeding Parkland] [Midhurst River Parkland for Dogs] [Bike Hire in Parkland] [Woolbeding Gardens FAQ's] [Vintage Clothing] [Cowdray Park Walks]