Seeking Space in Mid Sussex

‘Fifty walks from Haywards Heath’ is geared to help people expand from lockdown through well-described walks with commentaries on local landmarks.

Recently published by Haywards Heath resident John Twisleton, the walks are based around the town with Cuckfield and Lindfield extending radially to Balcombe, Ardingly, Horsted Keynes, Scaynes Hill, Wivelsfield, Ditching, Ansty and Borde Hill with longer excursions to East Grinstead, Lewes, Plumpton Racecourse and Brighton.

As volunteer member of Haywards Heath Town Team and local priest, Fr John is active in promoting a deeper grasp of town history which has served to illustrate this book. Most chapters draw out points of interest or amusement about the walk route.

‘Haywards Heath spread north and east of the ancient ‘Hayworth’ or animal enclosure south of Muster Green on the A272 which was the ancient ridgeway track. It grew out of London’s love affair with Brighton that brought about the building of the railway opened in 1841 and laid parallel to the old Roman Road heading north from Hassocks’ says John who lives in the town’s America Estate.

‘Though Haywards Heath expanded from Cuckfield there was a small expansion from Lindfield before the railway creating our America estate. Philanthropist William Allen (1770-1843) of Gravelye House built cottages nearby for the poor of Lindfield allotting them land for growing crops, along with cows and pigs. Instead of paying for them to cross the Atlantic, Allen paid for them to set up as a home colony which gave way eventually to the America estate we now know off New England Road’.

Fifty walks, well designed for family outings, are listed in order of length from one mile up to thirteen. All start from Orchards shopping precinct car park. Twenty three are circular. Twenty seven exploit public transport for the return journey. The detailed walk routes have schematic illustrations by designer Rebecca Padgham, girlfriend of John’s son James.

‘This book came out of our family experience of lockdown and we want it to be a blessing to others’ says Fr John. ‘My son Dave who worked with me on my previous bestseller ‘Forty Walks from Ally Pally’ suggested I write up some of our lockdown exercise walks. On our weekly family zoom last March Rebecca and James built with me on his enthusiasm and the book was born’.

In his Foreword Mayor of Haywards Heath, Alastair McPherson writes, ‘This collection of walks should be something we can all relate to, drinking in our surroundings and hopefully coming out of these next few weeks and months with a renewed vigour for slowing down, appreciating a gentler pace of life, and fully appreciating the beauty and interest that is on our doorsteps’.

Each walk has an inspirational saying, drawn from a variety of sources including Sussex poets, to serve finding ‘oxygen of the spirit’ on excursions geared to find outer and inner space as lockdown eases.

‘Fifty Walks from Haywards Heath’ by John Twisleton sells in paperback £9.99 plus £2 delivery with orders to Kindle version £7.99 on Amazon.