Vernal Hues, Maternal Ewes and Supernal Views
22 people attending
8 places left
A portion of the South Downs National Park where the abundant woodland adds colour, texture, variety and biodiversity to the endless rolling prairies that dominate the rest. A time of year when the lime green of the young oak leaves and the Chartreuse green of the young beech meet the emerald green of the grasslands and wheat fields. A walk of moderate exertion that starts unpromisingly at busy Barnham Station but soon reaches woods of bluebells (Slindon Estate), pretty villages of brick and flint (Slindon and Madehurst) and routes of age and antiquity (Roman Stane Street, the Monarch's Way). A feeling of delight at the arrival of spring and the esprit de corps of OutdoorLads.
Slindon: A charming brick and flint village on the southern slopes of the Downs, 100m up and giving prodigious views to the coast. A quadrilateral of lanes with small cottages to handsome Georgian houses unconsciously deployed to create beautiful corners and contrasts. St Mary's Church, seemingly Victorian on the outside (restoration of 1866) but 11th to 13th centuries inside. Fine wooden effigy of a knight, early 16th century, the portraiture individual.
Slindon Woods: Knocked sideways by the 'hurricane' of 16th October 1987, but now a testament to the regenerative power of nature. Shattered old hulks of beech and oak giving way to thick new growth; clearings teeming with wildflowers and butterflies, and where the beech remain, carpets of bluebells.
Stane Street: A Roman road, built probably within 10 years of the conquest (43-52AD), linking Chichester with London. Remarkably intact with a steep embankment (agger). 'Stane' is from the Norse 'stone'.
Fairmile Bottom: A nature reserve and one-kilometre stretch of herb-rich chalk grassland fringed with beech and yew woods.
Madehurst and Dale Park: Reputedly one the most remote villages in West Sussex, pretty flint houses straggling along the lanes. The extensive churchyard around the squat Saxon church of St Mary (always locked) suggests rural depopulation. Dale Park House, built 1784, demolished 1959, but the parkland remains.
Walberton: A cheerful long street of flint and brick in the fertile flat lands of the Chichester Plain with new houses among the old. The best parts are near the pond and by St Mary's Church (with a 1000-year old yew), and Walberton Park: a simple, elegant house of 1803 by Sydney Smirke, architect of the circular Reading Room at the British Museum.
Before lunch: A broad mixed-use cycle/footpath will take us north out of Barnham to Walberton. It's a little dull, but it gets the job done. At Potwell Lane we'll head further north to our crossing with the A27. It's an official crossing, of course, but still a bit nerve-racking. After crossing the A27 we'll be in the national park and venturing further north will take us to Slindon village where a short walk around it will take us out to Butt Lane. Following this to Little Down and Great Down will take us to Gumber Farm and then Stane Street to our lunch point on Glatting Beacon/Bignor Hill 219m up.
After lunch: Footpaths and lanes going south will take us through Little Bottom Wood to Madehurst. After reaching the church we'll head southeast, cross the A29, ascend Fairmile Bottom and follow footpaths through Rewell Wood and Danes Wood for our second scary crossing of the A27. Footpaths and lanes will take us to Walberton and then footpaths heading south across fields and past glasshouses back to Barnham.
(Picture credits: Descending Littleton Down: Chris Heaton; The South Downs Way up Bignor Hill: Chris Heaton; Path across Slindon Estate: Marathon; Slindon Estate: Janine Forbes; St Mary's Church, Slindon: Kevin Gordon; South Downs Way below Glatting Beacon: Chris Heaton; Southwest View to Lamb Hill and Glatting Beacon: Dave Spicer; View across field to Lamb Hill: Dave Spicer; Downland Lane at Madehurst: Colin Smith; Dual Carriageway on Sutton Downs Way: Chris Heaton; Dalesdown Wood: Sally; Pond at Walberton: Dave Spicer (all pictures from geograph.org.uk and are designated 'Free to share and use' and the Creative Commons License).)
What to bring
Footwear: Walking boots are essential, along with thick socks to prevent blisters, as the terrain is quite hilly.
Clothing: Wear cold and wet weather gear if these conditions are forecast and consider gaiters to reduce the spread of mud up the legs (the terrain will be muddy in parts although much of the walk will be on tarmac and gravel). Waterproof trousers are useful in the wettest weather but avoid jeans as when they are wet they become cold, heavy and chafing.