Clayton Windmills

Photograph of field between Hassocks and Clayton by Paul Watson

Photograph of field between Hassocks and Clayton, by the author

I’m going to be returning to talking about art and all the related stuff I usually talk about in the next few weeks, but until then I wanted to post a few pictures from another walk. In some ways these walks are related to my art practice, serving as one of many sources of inspiration - my friend David Southwell has always insisted that my artwork is rooted in landscape and place, despite not depicting these things directly.

I work from home (3 days a week in an unrelated day-job to earn actual money, the rest of the week on my artwork) so these walks in the countryside are also very necessary for avoiding cabin fever, and they are not only good physical exercise, but also good for my mental health (numerous studies have linked being out in the countryside as being beneficial).

We took the train (unfortunately a rail replacement bus service yesterday, doubling the journey time to a whole 20 minutes) from Brighton to Hassocks and started our walk from the public footpath that leads south from Hassocks station, following the trainline back in the direction of Brighton. It’s a bit of a closed-in footpath, with wire fences either side. There are two small areas of woodland — Butcher’s Wood and Lag Wood — to the left of this footpath with footpaths leading into them, but the ground was wet and heavily churned so we left them for another, drier, day.

Click any of the photos below for larger versions.

Birch Trees Tree


Frost on the field

At the end of the footpath we emerged onto the road, passing the curiously-designed entrance to Clayton Tunnel. According to Wikipedia:

Clayton Tunnel, the longest tunnel (1¼ miles) on the London to Brighton railway line, begins in Clayton and runs up to 270 feet (82 m) below ground … The farmer who owned the land would not grant access to the tunnel unless an edifice was built at its entrance, so the railway company built a castellated entrance around the tunnel.

Clayton Tunnel

We took a left onto Underhill Lane into the small village of Clayton, past St John the Baptist, a small 11th-century Anglo-Saxon church. We didn’t go inside as our boots were thickly covered in wet mud by this point, but apparently there are some 12th-century murals on the interior walls.

St John the Baptist church, Clayton

Lychgate Catkins

Following the chalk-and-mud bridleway that heads off from the right of Underhill Lane we walked up the hill to the Clayton (Jack and Jill) windmills, which served as the aim of the walk.

Along the bridlepath Chalk bridlepath

View from the Bridleway

View from the top of the hill

The Clayton Windmills

We retraced our steps down the hill and a few steps down the main road to the Jack and Jill Inn to sit by the open fire and have a pint of beer and lunch (all very good) before heading back along the footpath that follows the trainline to the station.

Open fire at the Jack and Jill Inn

Blogposts about artwork coming in the next few days.