Henfield to Steyning
Saturday 20th July 2019
I decided today to walk part of the route of Hilaire Belloc's The Four Men, from Henfield to Steyning.
London July 2019
A book referencing a book referencing a book - this is a page from the Joy of Pubs, in the section on literary pub crawls, where the version of the pubs visited in The Four Men as listed (and slightly embellished) by Bob Copper in Across Sussex with Belloc.
On arrival at Henfield I went to inspect the wine shop there. Good selection of English wine.
Hobbs of Henfield.
Too early for a pint, so instead I popped into the George Inn for a coffee. Although the Inn where the Three Men stopped in Henfield was not explicitly named, Bob Copper thought this a likely candidate.
Interesting diagonal beam here - apparently no structural reason for this, purely aesthetic.
Outside The George Hotel.
A house in Henfield with some impressive topiary.
Although I generally try to avoid roads and stick to footpaths, every now and again I find a quiet country lane which can actually be quite delightful.
Nearing the River Adur, around Grays Farm. Not really sure why I took a picture of these signs!
At the River Adur now, approaching what I thought was the site of the wooden bridge where the Four Men crossed the river, although I later discovered Bob Copper (who had probably thought about it far more than I had) decided it was probably a bit further downstream.
Still, in my mind this was the bridge.
I paused here for a while to read the relevant passage from the book: "This we did, and as we passed the wooden bridge we saw below us my little river, the river Adur, slipping at low tide towards the sea."
As Belloc mentioned on the next page, in the distance you can see Chanctonbury Ring here.
Zoomed in a bit on Chanctonbury Ring (I think) after crossing the bridge. "So we went on over the water-meadows. It was very cold, and the moon rode over Chanctonbury in a clear heaven."
I thought I should probably capture my mood, as I was experiencing a rare moment of inner peace.
A crossroads in the footpath here.
After crossing the bridge, there is another passage concerning walking along by a hedge, and I fancied this might have been said hedge (although again Bob Copper placed this at a different location).
"We did not speak. We plodded on all four, in single file, myself leading, along the narrow path by the bare hedge-side. The frost had touched the grass, and the twigs of quickset were sharp in the moonlight like things engraved upon metal."
A few minutes later I arrived at The Fountain at Ashurst. The Four Men did not come here in their entirety, but sent the Sailor here to buy food and drink.
"The Fountain of Ashurst runs, by God's Grace, with better stuff than water."
Indeed it does! Not just beautiful Harveys beer, but also local English wine by the glass.
However Harveys seemed like the most appropriate drink in this setting. I sat in this lovely bar room which I had largely to myself for my visit, and it was easy to imagine it was practically unchanged since Belloc's day.
Nice collection of wine labels.
After leaving the Fountain.
I passed through a "glamping" site between Ashurst and Steyning.
A crab apple (?) growing beside the track.
Back to the River Adur once again.
Following the River Adur once again.
The bridge where the Downs Link (a former railway line) crosses the River Adur.
I then followed the Downs Link towards Steyning.
Through fields of maize.
...and fields of wheat.
...and finally to Steyning.
There were some quite pretty houses in Steyning.
Inside the Chequers Inn in Steyning, again not sure this is mentioned explicitly in the book, but Bob Copper seemed to think it a likely candidate for where they would have gone when passing through the town.
Nice little nook here.
The clock tower in Steyning.
I got the bus from Steyning to Pulborough, then had this half bottle of Nyetimber on the train on the way home.