Abingworth HF holiday August 2023

Created; 04/09/2023, Changed; 11/09/2023 - 12/09/2023

Staying in West Sussex, part of The South Downs National Park.  

7 Night South Downs Guided Walking Holiday - 25th August to 1st September, plus two extra days till 3rd September.  Abingworth Hall, Thakeham, pictures above taken using a Doro smartphone, which has a good camera or other pictures taken with my Canon IXUS60 is a very good camera with not such a wide angle zoom but has flash.  This house was purchased in 1994 and another house in Scotland that had a branch train line to the house was sold soon after, HF bought and sold houses periodically some are leased from the National Trust.

Holiday Fellowship Holidays (HF) and Cooperative Holiday Association (CHA) both provided Christian based lead walking holidays with a vegetarian meal option and the houses also provided prayers at meal times with one room set aside as a Chapel for Sunday service.  Most of these things had gone or nearly gone, 35 years ago and the houses since then have single and double rooms with on-suite, but none of the houses have dormitory accommodation any more.  Three day and four day breaks were introduced in additional to the traditional seven day breaks and more recently menus are now centrally set, and food preferences and allergies are accommodated generally animal or vegan but there are some adaptions offered provide gluten free and sometimes give a second vegan, if you look at the icon next to the menu item as well. 


https://www.hfholidays.co.uk/about-us/about-hf-holidays/timeline  Although HF say that they set up the pathways fund in 1998 they and CHA had been supporting charity work repairing paths and helping poor people have holidays for a much longer time.  There are many HF-CHA walking groups around the country. 


CHA and the Ramblers Holidays were purchased by one of the bus companies in the 1990s, but HF and CHA had considered merging.  CHA had only changed one and was working on its other houses, Whitby right near the abbey and built from stone from the abbey had become excellent and CHA were changing there Peak District house at this time from army cook food, trestle tables and employed leaders who could be quite poor.  As far as I know as an outsider who had only visited those two houses.

As a vegan, I do not fit in so well, though people are polite and reasonable, and I had a lovely holiday with staff and walk leaders making a point of ensuring the holiday was special for me, and all guests.  This holiday company and its members provides expensive holidays which are excellent value, as well as free holidays for people who are poor and could not afford a holiday otherwise

Abingworth was owned by the Mosley family, though infamous fascist leader Sir Oswald never lived there.  The house is not a museum, though it retains some features, including enameled iron baths and some light fittings and wood paneling. 

 I have copied some of the details from www.hfholidays.co.uk information guide.

Saturday 26th - circular walk from the house I chose option 1 of 3 the easiest walk. 

Cootham & Storrington, 11km, Ascent: (120m) 

We walk along the ridge to the west of the house and then south to Storrington. There will be time to explore Storrington and possibly visit a teashop before we return through fields to the house.

This panoramic picture was composed by google photos and offered to me.  Whereas my own framed picture on the right captures more of the lovely sky's that day and looks smoother.

Sunday 27th - coach ride to the walk I chose option 1 of 3 the easiest.

River Valleys To Petworth - Burton Park And Petworth House, 8.5km, ascent: 120m, the gently rolling countryside of the Rother Valley on our walk through Burton Park there is not adequate time to make a worthwhile visit Petworth House but walking around the surrounding parkland is nice.  The Star public house was nice.

Monday 28th - Departure and arrival day for 3 day and 4 day break holidays and Free day for 7 day holidaymakers.

I walked to the very nearby Abingworth housing estate being built, with Thakeham village hall and a café and shop.  The pictures were taken on my day of arrival.  I used trains, a bus and a 1.1-mile walk to the house. 

HF Holidays used to start on a Sundays, but this was difficult when using public transport, so the change is good.

Tuesday 29th - Devil's Dyke And Ditchling Beacon, I selected option 1 of 3. Clayton Windmills (Jack and Jill).

10km, ascent: 240m.  The Clayton Windmills. 'Jill' is a wooden post mill from 1822, whilst 'Jack' is a brick tower mill from 1864.

This church has a warden and is well supported with renovation.  Pictures on the wall one of a woman martyr upside down.  Ruth who was handed the keys by her farther is the warden of the church spoke to us about the church and farming. One of the pictures is of a mass dial (a sun dial) that tells you when the service will be when a stick is put in the hole and the suns shadow falls in the right place on the dial.

Wednesday 30th - Parham Park, I selected option 1 of 3.  Thakeham, Warminghurst & Ashington 10.5km, ascent: 120m.  We all walked from the house.

We were given a very interesting talk by a warden of one of the churches, which had some of the early  paintings surviving.  Also, how the restoration funds work and on some of the farming issues.  I used my shoes rather than my boots because my feet were sore.

Thursday 31st - The Seven Sisters - this was a wet day, so I opted out, though this will have been a lovely walk with a long coach ride to it.  The walks were up to 16km ascent: 460m, option 3 - Eastbourne & Seven Sisters. And Beachy Head, are particular features of the South Downs.

These photos were taken in about 1988 probably using a Nikon EM with a Sigma 28 to 70 mm lens using Kodak print film?  The Seven Sisters and Leonardslee gardens, both in East Sussex.

I visited the camera obscurer in a water tower up a hill near Brighton which was very interesting 40 years, it may be surrounded by houses now.  https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/libraries-leisure-and-arts/museums-and-attractions/foredown-tower-learning-and-visitor-centre

Friday 1st September - Change over day, new holidaymakers and leaders arrive.  There was a train strike this day, which I did now know about when I booked, so I booked two more days.  Each day except Monday, the free day, I opted out of a packed lunch this day and went out with my cousins, who live nearby, instead. 

Pictures are inside Abingworth Hall, HF holiday.

The feature of Amberley was cars, walkers and cyclist.  But unlike many pictures villages which do not sustain poor people to do the work, this one seems to.  It also has a rail station and a bus stop.

Google photos have created this panoramic photo from my photos.  It looks a bit wrong but seems to be okay.

This sundial includes tables and a graph for correcting the time for the month. 

A stop for morning coffee in Amberley.  A lot of the thatched roofs were decorated with animals.

Saturday 2nd September - This was different to a walk from the house a week earlier first walk on, this walk included a coach ride which we passed through Parham Park that I had not seen the previous week and returned to the house.  We spent a lot of time in the village of Amberley.

Very large low power internal combustion engine that used low quality waste gas.

Vintage toilet roll shiny one side and smooth the other was rough, tough and does not take shit from anyone.-------

Melted phones from a fire and a lightening strike.

First public phone box, before this phone boxes were privately owned.


I may have an AA member Yale key for one of these boxes.  The AA motorbike engines did 100,000 miles because the drivers used to change the oil more frequently than specified, dad was told.

Victorian pile drilling tools.

Sunday 3nd September - I went with the walkers to Pulborough Rail Station train to Amberley where I visited Amberley Museum which is mostly of making and was interesting.

There was some sort of failure and myself and other rail passengers were given taxi rides between Redhill and Tonbridge, resulting in a longer journey home.   I have not claimed for delay because it was efficiently handled, and I am satisfied with the journey.