Saturday saw the first proper outdoor activity in this lockdown and therefore this year. It was a reasonably nice day and without Charlie being around anymore, Helen was determined to take something out for a walk. So, I charged up the camera, dug out the parka (which, according to the train ticket in the pocket had probably last seen use on 25/01/2019!), and we were off.
The intended destination was Ifield Mill Pond, somewhere I still hadn’t visited on any of my previous wanders over nearly fifteen years of living in Crawley. We headed out through Southgate towards Cheal’s roundabout, feeling strange that we were walking through this area without a silly little black and white doggy. The first detour of the day was into Cheal’s (well Squires now), so I could take pictures of the old Grade II listed Little Buckswood Farm that is surrounded by the more modern garden centre buildings, and its blue plaque.
From there we weaved our way up Buckswood Drive, criss crossing the road like drunken sailors as I took pictures of road signs for future use, making out way to Gossops Green parade, itself a locally listed building, passing the Windmill pub and around the back of the shops to the little wooden shack that is the Crawley Spiritualist Church.
The original plan was to go to the Mill Pond through the back of Gossops Green, but instead we ended up heading down to Ifield Station, via another photo opportunity at St. Theodore of Canterbury’s Church. We crossed over the railway and headed around through Ifield to Rusper Road. It was another road we weaved across like the drunken sailor’s day out. The section of Rusper Road we walked along has a number of Statutory and Locally Listed buildings of different ages and sizes.
We soon came to the entrance to Ifield Mill and the mill cottage. The day before the mill wheel had been running as a tribute, as the funeral of one of the main people instrumental in restoring the mill to working order had taken place.
The mill pond itself is cut in two by the railway line, with a thin channel under the tracks connecting the two. We wandered around the Ifield side all the way until we got to the bridge over the railway and through to Bewbush, and down to the larger part of the mill pond. There is a long wooden walkway across the mill pond, that had signs at the entrance saying it was one way. Fortunately, we were going the right way after our unintended detour around the side. (Of course, there were two idiots with a dog going the wrong way round.)
There were all kinds of birds on and around the pond. None of which could I tell you what they were with any degree of certainty. There were definitely ducks and seagulls, after that I’m struggling. With the low sun at this time of year, and with it approaching late afternoon, there were some good reflections off the surface of the pond, and in some places, there was still a thin layer of ice on the surface that the low sun hadn’t melted away during the day.
Once across the pond we exited back into Gossops Green, at the point where we had originally intended to come in, but it would appear we had accidentally found the better route seeing as there is a one-way system around the pond now.
We walked back up to the parade (with me getting more photos of road signs as we did), and past St Alban’s Church, with its fire station-esque brick campanile, another locally listed building, turning at the corner it’s on and headed down the hill until we got to the country path through Woldhurstlea park, the site of a former manor house, until we popped out of the other end back to being near Cheal’s again.
Avoiding retracing any of our steps we picked a different route back through Southgate. As we were passing the Half Moon pub, I saw a Tudor style looking building behind the pub. It isn’t actually Tudor, though some parts of the building are obviously older than the more modern mock Tudor frontage, and the surrounding buildings. Barrington Lodge is its name, and it is now a bed and breakfast. Despite having walked within fifty yards of it countless times, this was the first time I had noticed it.
Lockdowns seemed to have focused my mind to be on the lookout for buildings of interest in Crawley a lot more than I had before. On what turned out to be an eight mile wander I had seen a lot of interesting buildings that hadn’t really been noticed before. We had been out for three hours, perhaps slightly more than the recommended limit, but it was good to get out, even if my legs feel as if they are made out of stone now. I’m out of practise.
The icing on the cake though, was walking back into the house to the slow cooker emanating the mouth-watering smell of curry.