Foodie Trek – November 2017

Churches, Canals and Coffee

A linear walk of 12.5km (7.8 miles)

17th November 2017

Today’s walk will be going through historical smuggling coastal towns to a lost route to London with coffee on the way, i am joined by my son Matthew, my mate Paul and two dogs Cookie & Kiah.

From Barnham Station we followed Yapton Road under the railway bridge until the Murrell Arms; Originally a Georgian farmhouse and converted into a pub in 1866 by George Murrell who had inherited the property from his mother, he named the pub after their surname but unfortunately died in 1867, the pub was then sold on to the Anchor Brewery of Littlehampton. We decided that we best not stop here so early on in the trek as a pint would really have slowed us down and we wanted to get to Arundel before dark. We then headed south down Church Lane and probably about half way down passed an old property call Curacao, it is believed locally that this was an ale house at a much earlier time than the Murrell Arms. We continued to the end of this road where Barnham Court  a grand residence stands, built between 1630 and 1650 of hard red Sussex brick. Next to this and on our right at the end of the road is St Mary’s Church. This place of worship has been here since before the 1086 doomsday survey.  If you go into the church look out for the rare 15th century graffiti in the wall on the way to the vestry, written in latin it translates as “Pray for the soul of my father who died at Agincourt” it’s incredible that this inscription has been here for over 600 years and is considered rare because few people could read or write at that time. The immediate area around the church is where the original village of Barnham was situated, a tidal inlet came right into this village in the middle ages making it predominantly a fishing village, with smuggling also taking place here, apparently there is a secret underground passage leading to the church, however with the advent of the railway and the station meant that the modern village was developed further north.

From St Mary’s Church we took the cycle track opposite that links Barnham with Felpham and followed for a short way until coming across the remains of an old bridge that once crossed the Arundel to Portsmouth canal. This is part of ‘London’s Lost Route to the Sea’, a route that took barges inland from Portsmouth to London City thus avoiding the dangerous sea going route during the napoleonic war, unfortunately the demise of the canal was also to be blamed on the introduction of the railway (further details of this route can be seen in my ‘London’s Lost Route to the Sea’ walk and blog). At this point the remains can be seen of one of the many swing bridges that crossed the canal allowing farmers to cross to their fields

The old canal here is quite distinct, albeit empty and we walked eastwards on the raised bank which i assume is the old tow path. On this section to the north of the canal can be seen John Baker’s Windmill, named after the miller in 1882. There has been a mill on this site since c.1760s and the current tower mill replaced its predessor that was destroyed in a storm in 1827. This mill has been in operation grinding corn from 1829 to 1863 and has had several millers working there.

Trekking past the mill the canal is easily followed and at Drove Lane we continued over the road and along the edge of a field, the canal at this point has disappeared. We took the  twitten and dropped down by the edge of an old bridge that once crossed the canal, be extremely careful here as when i was walking down, my foot lost its grip and i started to slip, i thought that i would be able to steady myself, but no, i slipped all the way down the steps, falling on Cookie as i went, who gave out a yelp. I picked myself up at the bottom, brushed myself of and thankfully everything was still intact, however everyone else was more concerned with Cookie than me, i know my place! We were now in The Pines (a residential street that is built on the line of the canal) and we followed until Canal Road, we turned left then immediatly right into the Main Road. This was to be the tricky bit as i had left the map in the car and was going to have to put my memory to use in remembering the route that we took the previous year. Opposite the shops we crossed diagonally through car park and into Downview Way. At the end of Downview Way we crossed over the road and took the twitten between houses. At the end of this path was more remnants of an old canal bridge, after passing under we headed across the field and walked alongside trees that you can see are growing in the recess of the old canal. At the end of this small visible section we headed north and followed the path around the edges of the tree lined fields until reaching Ford Lane.

23659178_10155897787426952_1784005322239442927_n

The footpath emerged into Ford Lane and directly opposite we stopped at Edgcumbes Roastery, a coffee supplier since 1981 that buys beans in from all over the world and roasts them on site in a roaster called ‘Big Bertha’ which can be seen through the window of the cafe. The cafe barista was Nancy and i have never met a barista so enthusiastic and passionate about coffee, that also really knows her stuff. We did some ‘cupping’ on three single origin coffees. Nancy was so helpful talking us through the cupping process and how to taste the coffee properly even down to slurping each spoonful properly to get all the flavours. We tried Ethiopian, Kenyan and Columbian coffee and was well guided by Nancy on the flavours of each one, she also ran through the various brewing techniques and grind size too. Nancy also mentioned that she aspires to becoming a coffee roaster too in the future. Before we left we had a cup of the Sussex barn blend cappuccino style and bought some Kenyan Coffee for the recipes below.

After taking a break and perking ourselves up with coffee we left the roastery, turned Left into Ford Lane and followed for a short while (be careful on this road as it can be busy at rush hour), we left the road at Flintstones and took the concrete farm track opposite, then took the path going diagonally across the field to Station Road, this path again follows the route of the canal, but unfortunately no evidence of it here remains here until you get to the River Arun. The other side of the road we could see the track leading to St Andrews Church-by-the-Ford. This saxon church has been here since c.1040 and was rebuilt by the Normans in the 12th century. The white bell tower was painted in brilliant white to help the ships on the river with navigation. The church is also noted for it’s fine paintings inside, ‘The Doom’ as it is called is a large painting in the chancel arch of the nave that was discovered in 1899 and is said to be dated c.1512.

We Passed by the church on the footpath to the left and headed for the River Arun. At this point the canal would have met the river and the only evidence left is the concrete from two lock gates that were in place to allow barges to pass through at high tide and keep water in the canal at low tide.

From here we headed northwards along the River Arun, under the railway bridge towards Arundel. On our approach to the town the light was fading but we could still make out  ‘South Marsh Mill’ on the other side of the river. This tower mill similar to John Baker mill was built in 1830 and was used to grind corn up until 1922, the windshaft broke in 1915 in a storm so was operated by engine for the last few years. although the mill is protected by grade 2 listing there is no evidence left of the wharf that it had on the river from when it was operational.

23755612_10155897787646952_8671371250993204428_n

As the sun had set and darkness was upon us we entered Arundel via Tarrant Street, so named after the previously being called the river Tarrant before it was named the Arun. We turned right into Arun Road then left onto River Road, along here we passed the old Eagle Brewery just before reaching the river in the town centre, unfortunately the Arundel Brewery shop was closed when we got there but perhaps i can return to pick up some Chilgrove Vodka for the ‘Espresso Martini’ and probably some ales too.  At the main bridge across the river in Arundel we headed out of town on Queens Street to the station and after a short wait we caught the train back to Barnham.

Peanut Butter Tiramisu

Ingediants:

  • 250g Tub of Marscapone Cheese
  • 568ml pot Double Cream
  • 75ml Amaretto
  • 5 tbsp golden caster Sugar
  • 2 tbsp Smooth Peanut Butter
  • 200g Pack Sponge Fingers
  • Dark Chocolate
  • 500ml Strong Kenyan coffee
  • 1 Tbsp Brandy

Method:

  1. Put the cream, mascarpone, sugar and peanut butter in a large bowl and whisk until thick, stir in the amaretto.
  2. Dip sponge fingers in coffee/brandy mix and arrange in serving dish, then spread over the cream mix, grate some chocolate over and repeat with another layer of sponge and cream mixture until all used up, finishing with a cream mix on top. Dust with cocoa powder.
  3. Cover and chill for a couple of hours then serve.

Espresso Martini

Serves 2

For the sugar syrup

  • 100g golden caster sugar

For the cocktail

  • ice
  • 100ml Chilgrove Vodka
  • 50ml freshly brewed espresso coffee
  • 50ml coffee liqueur (i used Kahlua)
  • 4 coffee beans (optional)
  1. Start by making the sugar syrup. Put the caster sugar in a small pan over a medium heat and pour in 50ml water. Stir, and bring to the boil. Turn off the heat and allow the mixture to cool. Put 2 martini glasses in the fridge to chill.
  2. Once the sugar syrup is cold, pour 1 tbsp into a cocktail shaker along with a handful of ice, the vodka, espresso and coffee liqueur. Shake until the outside of the cocktail shaker feels icy cold then strain into the chilled glasses. Garnish each one with coffee beans if you like.

Highdown Hill Hike


A circular trek of 5km (3.1 Miles) rising up 81m (266 ft) to the top of Highdown Hill which on a clear day will give some amazing views across Worthing to Beachy Head in the East and the Isle of Wight in the West. The walk starts in the car park at the base of the hill however a shorter route can be taken by parking at the higher car park approximately half way to the top.

Over the road from the car park and behind the hedge is the footpath that ascends Highdown, it follows the edge of an arable field and leads firstly to the upper car park at 43m high. With the entrance on the left a visit could be made to ‘Highdown Gardens’, these were once the grounds of the nearby hotel. The gardens started their creation in 1909 in one of the many disused chalk pits by Sir Frederick Stern and his wife, owner then of the Highdown Hotel, He developed the site until his death in 1967. In 1970 the gardens were passed to Worthing Borough Council who since the mid 1970s have restored them to Sterns’ original design.

From the gardens head on upwards until reaching an unmissable burial chamber known as the ‘Millers Tomb’. So called after the miller ‘John Olliver’, who In the 18th century had this tomb built 27 yrs before he actually died in 1793. Many claim that he was the leader of local smugglers and used the tomb to store contraband. He would arrange the sails of his windmill at varying angles to indicate the absence of customs men to his fellow smugglers out at sea. The mill is said to have been damaged in a storm and since demolished, however the brick base of the mill can be seen as a mound at the south west corner of the hill fort.

Take the downward path a short way, then follow westwards along the lower part of the hill, the path passes many disused chalk pits and gives some great views across Worthing. The Highdown vineyard can be seen nestled on the lower south slopes, with great soil and plenty of sun, this working vineyard produces both still and sparkling English Wines. Further along can be seen the Roundstone Farm that got its name from an incident with a runaway millstone rolling down the hill following an accident.

Just past the large chalky escarpment, the path continues west and is then shielded from the hill behind a hedge, giving refuge to many birds. Before long Ecclesden Mill comes into view and is situated just above Ecclesden Manor. This brick tower mill is said to have been built shortly after the demise of John Olliver’s mill in 1826, Milling ceased at Ecclesden Mill in 1872 and the sails were blown off in a storm in 1880. It has since been renovated and is now a private residence.

Walk northwards past the mill and then head up the hill on the well worn track to the top at 81m. The Bronze age saw the first settlers and a hill fort was constructed in the early iron age. Later on, this site also became an Anglo-Saxon cemetery and a number of unusual glass objects can now be seen in Worthing Museum. In more modern times the ancient archaeology of the site has been considerable damaged by a radar station that was built During World War II and many uprooted trees following the Great Storm of 1987.

On heading back down the hill, take a break in the Highdown Hotel built in 1820 as the family home of the Lyons family. In 1909 the house and surrounding grounds were bought by Major Stern and his wife, who’s surname was used as the name of a night club in the 80’s. A short descent from here leads back to the car park at the start.

Windmills, Romans and the Folly

A 9km (5.6 miles) circular walk starting in Eartham. 

When i walked this route it was mainly in the darkness, such that i could get a different perspective of the sights & sounds of this area along with great night time views from Nore Hill.  However i recommend that the walk is carried out in daylight which will show case the beauty of this area much more.

Park up in the village of Eartham and take the road south towards the church. The gates to Eartham House are on the left which was constructed by Thomas Hayley in 1743, albeit much smaller than it is today. Following Thomas’ death the house became home to his son and poet William Hayley who lived in the house from 1774 to 1800. The grade 2 listed house has been extensively enlarged and rebuilt over the years and is now occupied by Great Ballard School.

Head down the footpath opposite the church that passes the the graveyard, continue down the hill and across the fields, shortly the path will start to ascend Long Down, which is the site of some Bronze Age Flint Mines, now a scheduled monument the only trace that can be seen is the knolls of uneven ground when looking south of the path, apparently there are at least fifty infilled shafts and many of the shafts are now under the cultivated fields having been levelled by the ploughing. 

Continuing upwards, Halnaker Windmill soon comes into view and can be seen straight ahead, at dusk it prominently stands as a dark silhouette against the setting sun behind it. A windmill has been on this site since 1540 and the current mill dates from the 1740s. The tower mill was built for the Duke of Richmond to service the Goodwood Estate and was working up until 1905 when it was struck by lightning. The mill has been subject of a Hillaire Beloc poem called Ha’nacker Mill.

The path soon meets the A285 which is part of ‘Stane Street’ turn right and head towards Londinium, this long straight path was once an important roman road linking London Bridge to the harbour at Chichester. Following the long straight path known as ‘Stane Street’ should be easy as it heads through Eartham Woods.  Look out for deer as they are often spotted leaping amongst the beech trees of these woods. 

Continue on path until the Six-Ways signpost is reached and where many paths converge. This sign is known locally as ‘Shippams Poste’, named after a local family who donated it. From here take the 1st path on the right that is signed towards Slindon (be careful not to take the firebreak). This long straight path passes through woodland known as North Wood. North Wood was once a large area of ancient woodland, but during both the 1st & 2nd world wars a huge demand on timber meant that many beech trees were felled to support the war effort. The fields were then ploughed and farmed to support British food production. By taking the opportunity of a short detour here through the gate and into National Trust reserve you’ll be able to see where 75 hectares of the arable farmland are being turned back into woodland. A massive project by the trust to recreate the special landscape and encourage much wildlife to return.

Head west, through Nore Wood and up to the 18th century Folly which was used by the Countess of Newburgh for many picnic parties. Take a moment here to catch your breath and admire the fine views across Sussex and on to Hampshire.

Leave the Folly heading towards Puck Lane Coppice, then take the westerly path back to Eartham.  On this path can be seen the brick and flint octagonal pump house that once supplied the nearby great house. This path leads into Eartham and a short walk along the road back to the start. Before leaving however, Why not take the opportunity to refuel at the local pub.

Chichester Roman Walls Walk

A 5.5 km (3.4 mile) circular walk along the Roman Walls that surround Chichester. Starting at the canal basin the walk heads to South Street where the official walls walk can be picked up, brass plagues inlaid into the pavement will indicate the way and many information boards on the walk explain more about the history.

City gates would once have stood at the four entrances of North, South, East and West Streets, but unfortunately no trace of these gates remain. Continue on South Street to the Old Theatre (now Zizzi’s) which was built in 1791 for the population of Chichester, turn into Theatre Lane and walk to the car park opposite where the first glimpse of the Roman Walls can be seen. Now a scheduled monument, more than 80% of the original structure has withstood the test of time and the majority of the walls are accessible to the public.

The South East Quadrant walls are found in a small park behind iron fencing and has a great example of one of only four remaining bastions. Standing at half its original height it was used as defences for the city, these bastions would have housed large crossbows capable of firing bolts up to 500m.

Exit park and continue through the car park into St John’s Street where St Johns Church chapel can be found, a rare example of a Georgian Proprietary Chapel, built in 1813 the chapel would have provided additional capacity for the existing parish churches meeting the spiritual needs of the growing urban population. 

Cross East Street and look for the silver wishbone hanging below the clock above the old entrance to the Shippam’s paste factory. Shippam’s have been in the city since 1750 when Sergeant Shipston Shippam opened a small warehouse in West Street selling butter, cheese and meat from the west country. Shippam’s also provided provisions for the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic wars. The meat paste factory in Eastgate opened in 1892 and prided itself on sourcing ingredients from all over the world to make into its famous pastes, production continued until 2002 when the factory was taken over by Princes and moved to Terminus Road. The smell of chicken stock was often smelt across the city and the silver wishbone above the door symbolises the great pile of wishbones left from the many carcasses that came in every day, they would have been given to visitors of the factory to take away as good luck tokens.

From the factory head north and stroll along the wide promenade created on the wall to Priory Park. Enter the Park and continue round the elevated walkway on the walls, that give a grand view over the park. Priory park has two additional scheduled monuments; the Guildhall that opened in 1292 as a Franciscan Friary and used by the Greyfriars that were resident in the park for over two centuries. The second monument is the Norman Motte where once stood Chichester Castle, built by local Lord Roger de Montgomerie. Also look out for the remains of the hospitum walls of the friary and the aviary that houses many budgerigars. 

The North East Quadrant of the walls finish as they lead into Priory Lane and the North West quadrant starts after crossing North Street. Another elevated section that continues around the city outskirts overlooking the houses of Orchard Street and giving some great views in places towards the cathedral.

After crossing West Street, the South West Quadrant is the last section of wall and this part has no promenade on the wall so is followed by a path alongside, take time to visit a hidden gem that is Bishops Palace Gardens, the peaceful gardens are situated just through a gap in the wall and next to the cathedral. Return to the walk which leaves the wall just past the gardens and follows the course of the River Lavant back to South Street, a short back track down Southgate will lead back to the start at the canal basin.  

Ancient Trees and Deers

A 6.5 km (4 miles)
A circular walk through the beautiful Petworth Park. A great time to visit is in the autumn when the leaves are changing colours and England’s largest collection of fallow deer can be heard rutting.
DSC_0106
The trek starts in the car park (furthest north from the house) and sets out in a westerly direction on the path leading out of the woods and into the rolling terrain of the park. Much of the park’s landscape has been laid out by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, in particular the ponds and the strategically planting of many of the trees.
Cross over the spring that supplies water to the upper and lower ponds via several miles of underground drains and tunnels and continue past Shepherds Lodge, heading up the hill to Upperton Tower. The tower, also known as ‘The Monument’ was built in 1816 at a point where the main house could just be seen. Although referred to as ‘The Monument’ it does not commemorate anything and there is very little history on this building. It sits at 125m, the highest point in the park and has some terrific views to the Sussex countryside beyond.
Admiring the views retrace your steps and follow the contours around a natural bowl in the landscape to a steep decent down to the stony track. Many of the fallow deer can be seen much closer here as it tends to be a quieter part of the park. Follow the path south which gradually rises and on reaching the top Tillington Church Tower can be seen in the distance and the Upper Pond will also come into view. Head towards the pond taking the grassy path down to the waters edge.
DSC_0120
The Upper Pond was redesigned between 1752 – 1756 and to create the pond Capability Brown built a dam across the valley. The upper pond was captured by Turner in one of his pictures called ‘Dewy Morning’. As you descend it is clearly seen that the pond is designed to simulate a river flowing through the landscape.
Follow the iron fence around the pond to the unusual boathouse (also built by Brown in 1756), on top of the boathouse is a platform where views across the pond, it’s wildfowl and sussex countryside can be seen, look over the edge to see a ‘Neptune head’ sculpture embedded into the wall above the arches that was taken from the house.
Head away from the Upper Pond on the Lawns toward the house with it’s air of grandeur and prominence on the landscape. The wrought Iron gates lead to the ‘Pleasure Grounds’, designed to inspire a range of emotions, take some time here to discover the Doric temple, Ionic Rotunda and war memorial.
DSC_0136
Petworth House was built in 1682 and for an additional fee the house can be entered to see the many state rooms including paintings by well known artists.
Once back in the park, follow the wall that borders the pleasure grounds and here can be seen the oldest oak in the park at 940 years old. Some recent archaeology has revealed what is thought to be the remains of Henry VIII banqueting or hunting lodge in the area just before the descent to Lower Pond.
Just past the pond was once the site of an army camp for American and Canadian airman. Post war it was used as a resettlement camp for displaced Polish families up until 1959. There is no evidence left of the camp and the entrances in the wall have long been filled in.
On the last stretch back to the car park look out for the ‘Beelzebub Oak’ which dates back to 1779 and marks the parish boundary, the name derives from a superstition that ‘beyond the parish boundary the land was spiritually suspect’.

Highway Men & Medieval Heights

October 2018

This months trek is a circular walk of 14km (9 miles) from Arundel Bridge to the top of Barpham Hill and back taking in some fine views along the route. This trek is inspired by a DofE expedition that I recently assessed.Starting at Arundel Bridge head east along the river passing the Lido, which has been popular with locals since 1960. The 16th Duke of Norfolk donated the land in celebration of his daughter, Lady Anne’s 21st Birthday. After a period of closure and refurbishment the Lido is back open and now run as a charity. Continue along the raised river bank further out of the town and into the open farmland, following the river that was once ‘London’s Lost Route To The Sea’.At Warningcamp the railway meets the river and at this point there would once have been a wharf supplying local trade to the villages. Carefully cross the railway and follow the Monarchs Way through the sleepy hamlet, along the road and then into the woods that leads through a valley of Warningcamp Hill.

The path will start to rise and after a short steep incline will bring you up to Gibbets Piece, named after the gibbeting of Jack Upperton. A post has been placed as a memorial to the Wepham resident who was executed in Horsham in 1771. Jack was a poor labourer and in his 60s when he and an accomplice robbed the local postman, who was carrying mail to Arundel along the old Lewes to Chichester highway. Although only a pound was netted in the robbery, Jack was caught by locals that noticed his increased spending. Following his execution Jacks tarred body was placed in the gibbet as an example to others and to also ward off similar crimes. This old highway has long been downgraded to a bridleway and forms part of the Monarchs Way. It leads into and is surrounded by the woods of Angmering Park when in the spring blooms into mists of blue with many bluebells on the forest floor.


Follow this old highway through the mixed woods of Angmering Park, at the clearing head north leaving the Monarchs Way and ascend to the triangulation point at the top of Barpham Hill some 142m above sea level. On a good day terrific views can be had here reaching far along the coast and the Rampion wind farm is clearly seen standing prominently out to sea. Barpham itself now only consists of two farms but in 12c there was a church and village near Upper Barpham Farm, however in 1348 the black death swept through the village and many locals were buried in the vicinity. The church no longer exists and only small traces of it can be found today. Many sheep dominate the hills now.


Descend from the top of Barpham Hill and pick up the steep path down the side of Perry Hill to Coombe Lane and into Burpham. This path is part of an old medieval route known as the ‘Lepers Way’ that linked an old leper colony at Lee Farm with the church of St Mary in Burpham. There is a window that still exists today known as the lepers window through which the poor victims of this disease could view the service and be blessed by the priest inside the church.

DSC_0026

Opposite the church is The George pub built in 1738 and a great opportunity for some refreshment. From the pub head across the village green and down ‘Jacobs Ladder’ once part of a saxon fort that defended the village from the vikings and later was used by smugglers when coming from the river to the pub with their brandy and silks.
The base of the steps meet up with the River Arun which leads to an easy route back through Warningcamp to Arundel Bridge to complete the trek.

Foodie Trek – July 2018

Piers, Trains and Lost Villages

A 12.5km (8 mile) linear walk along the coast from Bognor Pier to Littlehampton’s West Pier.

A great walk to be had on a lovely sunny day arriving in time to see the sun set over the shimmering sands of West Beach.

Bognor pier opened in 1865 and has been a significant icon for the town, in it’s heyday it would have entertained locals & tourists alike and during the war it served as a Royal Navy observation station nicknamed HMS Barbara, it was manned with anti aircraft guns that shot down a German bomber in February 1943. A memorial to this can be seen in front of the pier. Unfortunately in 1964 storms damaged the end of the pier causing the pavilion to collapse beyond repair.

Head east from the pier along the promenade and you’ll see a handful of traditional fishing boats and lobster pots ready for the next catch. Continue along the promenade to just past Butlins, where Longbrook can be explored, with exercise machines for toning up and the Aldingbourne Rife for the opportunity to spot some wild fowl. The eastern side of Longbrook has a memorial to a Hampden bomber that crashed here in 1942, it took off from Rutland to bomb Dortmund in Germany but for unknown reasons crashed on the way. Just behind the sea wall of Longbrook can be seen the railway bungalows, these carriages would have originally come from old rolling stock of the ‘London Brighton and South Coast Railway’ in 1918. The majority of carriages have been built around, however original features are still evident on some. Apparently the residents kept a dinghy under their carriages as the area frequently flooded.

Continue along the promenade to the end and take the short muddy track to the greensward at the end of Sea Lane. The breakwater known as Hannah’s Groyne marks the border between Felpham & Middleton and in 1795 was the site of a signal station built by order of the Admiralty to maintain a watch against potential french invasion, an ideal location that had great sight lines out to sea and along the coast, it was run by Royal Navy Lieutenants with staff of up to three men. The station along with Middleton church that was nearby have long been lost to the sea.

If the tide is out you can continue the walk along the sands otherwise a slight detour inland will be required before rejoining the beach near Elmer.

Walk along the path on top of the sea defence that is protecting the land behind, once known as Elmer Pool this area regularly flooded and was a fishery for eels.

Just past the large rock breakwater you’ll need to take extra care as the the concrete sea defences have fallen away along with a large chunk of the farmers field due to coastal erosion, at low tide you can make out the flint wall and foundations of a building that stood in the field. Cudlow a small port in the Middle Ages and the hamlet of Islham situated near here succumbed to the waves and were washed away in the 17th Century. A few cottages of Atherington remain and this hamlet would have been twice the size before it was also besieged by the sea.

The last part of the walk takes in the 30m high sand dunes of West Beach, one of only a few undeveloped coastal areas of sussex that has been designated as an area of special scientific interest as it has much wildlife including some rare sand lizards. West Pier is at the end of West Beach and marks the entrance to the River Arun.

Foodie Trek – June 2018

Eggs and Ham, Sunny Side Up

Easy level walk of 10.5 km (6.5 Miles)

Not a trek that you would immediately think of but one that takes in some interesting ‘off the beaten track’ places. Starting at Flansham we walked along the newly constructed cycle track towards Littlehampton. This seems to have taken so long and such a relief that it is now finished as it certainly caused some traffic delays in it’s construction.

P1080115

We passed the 150 acres of Rookery Egg Farm that has been providing organic free range eggs locally for over 20 years and you’ll see some of the many chickens scratching about in the field, a little parched at the moment from the hot summer but the birds look happy enough.

We continued on the noisy cycle path with quite a few lorrys thundering by and then crossed the road to enter Worms Wood, a 33 acre woodland area with oak, ash, maple and birch trees that were planted in early 2000 as part of the ‘Woodlands Trust Woods on Your Doorstep’ project. It is now well established with the broad leaved trees flourishing to provide a true woodland feel. We headed through the centre of the wood, but many a time i have been through these woods and taken one of the many tracks to further explore amongst the trees. The wooden bench commemorating the millennium is situated in the central glade and here we saw some rather large rabbits running around. The wood also has an abundance of flora and fauna and last year we took a guided walk and discovered so much more.

We left the wood via the gate onto Larksfield, our first house looked over this field and looking back many memories were made here, the trees on the field have really matured too reaching quite a height, mind you we did move out 22 years ago. We headed towards Yapton Road and couldn’t believe that the small farm where we used to get some eggs and occasionally vegetables too was overgrown, derelict and all boarded up, such a shame.

P1080126

We crossed the road and followed Ancton Lane eastwards passing many cattle fields and the old Ancton House Hotel which was built in the 17th century as a farm but is now a private residence. Just round the corner from here we turned into Sunnymead Close and walked to the end where there is a small Twitten into Elmer woods, a long elongated established wood that is nestled between farmland and residential estates, we took the path through the centre of the woods being careful not to fall over the mounds that local children have built for jumps on their bikes. At the far end we crossed over Grevatts Bridge which spans the deep Ryebank rife, an artificial channel which once flowed west and east linking two streams and forming the border between Middleton and Yapton.  On leaving the wood we followed the edge of the wheat field, through waist high grass to the A259 (thank goodness i took a hay fever tablet), evidence of the old road can clearly be seen at this point, we then crossed over and headed through the lettuce fields towards Bilsham, the ground was exceptionally dry and the farmers had gigantic reels gradually pulling a water sprayer back across the fields, we tried to work out how long each would take to get across the field and decided that it would be several hours, i hasten to add we didn’t hang around to see if we were right. The land here is designated by DEFRA as grade one agricultural, so is of great importance for the growing of food such as potatoes, salad crops, and wheat.

Just after the allotments we got to Yapton Road, we followed for a very short way before  crossing over and entering the hamlet of Bilsham by the old chapel, now a private residence but once the chapel at Bilsham consisted of a single undivided space that was originally built of flint with sandstone in the 14th century, and served as a chapel until 1551 after which it was used as cottages and storage.

From Bilsham pass through more prime agricultural land to Whetstone Bridge which also crosses the Ryebank Rife, but here the river is much bigger and has a lot more water in, swans and ducks can often be seen here paddling their way through the green weed but no such luck for us as only the remains of a trail could be seen in the weed. At this point the Bilsham Solar Farm is in full view with the bright sun reflecting off the panels. If you follow the edge of the field to the north you’ll come across an information board that explains that the Farm was built in 2014 on land that is situated between the Lidsey and Ryebank Rife. The developer worked with environmental specialists to ensure that the wildlife unique to the area can thrive here and on the site was also found some Bronze Age artefacts which suggested that there may have been a settlement here too. In 2016 the farm produced 16221 MWh of power which is the same amount to power 4000 homes.

We headed back to Flansham through the meadows and brook lands and these would suggest that the second part of the hamlet of Flansham’s name means ‘meadow’ (hamm) rather than ‘settlement’ (ham).

A chapel of ease also once stood in Hoe Lane and by 1547 it had fallen into ruins the foundations discovered indicate a building similar to Bilsham chapel, i believe that tis is likely to be in the rear of someones garden. A further short walk from here brought us back to where we started in Flansham.

The fact that the egg farm is based here suggested that i should do a recipe with eggs and what better way to celebrate the humble brown oval than with a Spanish Omelette that i have been meaning to make for ages.

Spanish Tortilla

Ingredients

  • 300g potatoes
  • 1 red onion
  • Mixed roasted pepper
  • olive oil
  • 5 large free-range eggs
  • Salt & Pepper

Method

  1. Peel the potatoes and cut into thin slices. Parboil the potatoes until just soft, drain and leave the steam to dry them
  2. Finely slice the onion, then drizzle some oil into a small frying pan and over a medium heat fry the onion until soft, then add the potato.
  3. Crack the eggs into a mixing bowl, season with a tiny pinch of salt and black pepper, then whisk together with a fork.
  4. Remove onions and potatoes from the pan and carefully tip them into the eggs. Transfer the mixture back into the frying pan and place over a low heat for around 20 minutes, or until there’s almost no runny egg on top.
  5. Slightly lift and loosen the sides of the tortilla and carefully flip over in the pan and cook for another 5 minutes, or until golden and cooked through.
  6. Turn out the tortilla onto a serving board and cut into 6 wedges.
  7. Serve hot or cold with a simple green salad.

Foodie Trek – May 2018

Steam, Tranquil Rivers & Watercress

4th May 2018

A 10km (6 mile) circular walk from Arlesford, the watercress capital of England and around the beautiful Hampshire countryside.

We started the trek by having a look around Arlesford Station on the preserved heritage railway known as ‘The Watercress Line’. The station was open but unfortunately no trains were running today, apart from a couple of diesels that they were restocking with beer ready for the ale train that would be running later in the week.  The Mid Hants railway started in 1865 and was intended to link Alton with the main route from London to Southampton, the line was in full service for 108 years, playing an important role in both wars before it was closed in 1973. It has since been restored and is now a successful visitor attraction.

 

We left the station and headed to Broad Street in the centre of this beautiful Georgian town, that for many years was a prosperous wool town and is now the UK’s capital for watercress. Before we turned off of Broad Street and headed to the watercress beds we caught sight of the tiny old fire station that was built in 1882 to originally house a horse drawn fire engine.

 


At the northern end of town we took the Wayfarers Way trail to the tranquil River Arle, with it’s crystal clear waters and gently wavering riverbed plants that can have you memorised for ages. We continued for a short way along the river and came to ‘Fulling Mill’ that dates from the 13th century, it was built to make the fulling of cloth easier and for many centuries the hammering of the fulling stocks would have been heard as they tightened and shrunk cloth into a closely woven product. The mill was disused in the early 19th century when larger mills took over this process. We crossed the river at the mill and headed towards Old Arlesford passing the first watercress beds of the trek, some empty and presumably resting whilst others were a sea of vibrant green as the watercress is coming into full bloom.

 

Just on the outskirts of Old Arlesford we headed east on quite a defined bridlepath through the bright yellow fields of rape. With a slight incline we followed this path all the way to Abbotstone, the site of an old medieval village. The distinct ridges in the ground indicate where the village once stood and the few trees standing eerily amongst the mounds could probably tell a story or two.

We joined a minor road here which led us through this tiny hamlet with its many river tributaries and we then headed up to ‘Itchen Stoke Down’. After climbing for some time we were due for a well earned break and at the cross paths near the top we decided to stop and to take in the varied wildlife such as the yellow tipped butterfly, cowslip growing in the path edges and kites hovering above, looking for their next meal. I also tucked into a pink kitkat that i bought earlier, which was made from the new rose chocolate. We took in and admired the great views across the Hampshire countryside to the edges of Winchester where the white domes of the science museum could be picked out too. The raised mounds of the tumuli in the surrounding fields that are known as Itchen Stoke Down Barrows were also clearly visible too.

 

 

 

Continuing on the Wayfarers Way we then headed back down towards Arlesford passing further watercress beds before reaching the River Arle again, where wildfowl such as ducks with their ducklings and little egrets were going about their business. We also met up with a swan that albeit behind a fence was very grand in it’s demeanour.

 

We strolled along the banks back towards the town, passing the ‘Eel House’ that straddles the river. Built in the 1820’s its purpose was on dark moonless nights between August and November to trap mature eels at the start of their amazing migratory journey to the sargasso sea. For more than 160 years the river keepers would catch the eels in nets and sell them live to merchants from billingsgate market. It was only a short walk back from here through the town and past the church to the station that completed this months trek.

This months recipe is inspired from the fresh watercress that was seen growing in the fields.

Linguine with Watercress and Almond Pesto

Ingredients:

  • 200g linguine or spaghetti
  • 85g bag watercress
  • 1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
  • 25g parmesan (or vegetarian alternative), half grated, half shaved
  • 50g toasted flaked almond
  • 4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp sugar

Method:

  1. Cook the pasta following pack instructions. Meanwhile, put the watercress and garlic in the bowl of a food processor and blend for a few secs until finely chopped. Add the grated cheese, half the almonds, the olive oil, lemon juice and sugar. Season well, then blend until you have a smooth purée consistency.
  2. When the linguine is cooked, drain, reserving a cup of the cooking water. Return the pasta to the pan and pour over the pesto, using a little pasta water to loosen the sauce if necessary. Stir everything together and divide between 2 bowls. To serve, top with the shaved cheese and remaining almonds.

Foodie Trek – April 2018

Trout, Wild Garlic  and Fairmile Bottom

29th April 2018

A circular walk of 9km (5.6 miles) in a lesser known part of the Duke of Norfolk’s Estate just outside of Arundel.

The walk starts by passing by Waterwoods Cottages situated either side of ‘The Waterwoods’, which is on the roundabout between the A27 and A284 (Be really careful how you cross here as these roads are exceptionally busy at times). The tarmac drive heads away from Arundel through a picturesque valley with high wooded banks to the south, with big reveals that look like they may have been landslips in the past, opening up the chalky ground allowing some wild garlic to grow amongst the exposed roots of the trees. Further on the lakes of Chalk Springs trout fishery are visible to the right and a few anglers are seen on the banks, one trying to land his catch. We popped into the fishery so that Tim could pick up ‘The Informer’ and after flicking through the pages proudly showed us a picture of himself with a large trout as he often fishes here and brings back a few trout. The chalk springs trout fishery is fed from a spring that emerges through the chalky downs and originally had only two lakes. It was created in 1984 on what was the old watercress beds, the alkaline and mineral rich waters would have provided a great environment for growing watercress. Chalky spring water also has copious amounts of invertebrate for the trout to feed on and since the fishery opened a couple more lakes have been added whereby giving fly fishing anglers more variety to catch trout in the crystal clear spring waters. For the non anglers and with advance notice fresh trout can be netted and bought here.

Continuing along the drive it starts to steadily climb up hill and go further into the woods on a path that suddenly become very muddy following the recent rainful, time for a bit of dodging the puddles and balancing on the strategically placed branches. The woods were not that deep and we were soon emerging into open downland. We followed the edge of a field that seemed to have pens set out for breeding pheasant in ready for the new season. Following this path took us into sherwood rough, a forest that has been extensively cut back, but is evident that it is sustainable and managed as new trees had been planted. Walking through here you can also see across a small valley and it was so  reminiscent of a prehistoric britain, it just seemed so unspoilt and you could imagine a large velociraptor appearing from the trees (our imaginations running wild here i think!). Trekking further upwards and looking over our shoulders we had some great views back to the coast with rampion wind farm standing proud in the sea.

Both Sherwood Rough and Dalesdown Woods have had medieval settlements that have been discovered in these woods and although archaeological digs have taken place here,  little information could be found on them. The official footpath through this wood can easily be missed as there are many tracks and fire breaks here too, so the good old trusty map and compass were put to really good use.

As we were approaching Fairmile Bottom Nature Reserve more and more Yew trees were becoming apparent with their mangled branches all inter twining with each other and now giving a very different feel to britian, one of a more mystical nature. The Yew trees led us up to Yew Tree gate on the edge of Fairmile Bottom and if we had headed straight down the hill from here it would have led us to where an old cafe once stood. The wooden Fairmile cafe was first mentioned in 1939 by a local resident from Madehurst and it became a very well known landmark with those on their travels stopping here for a brew and cake. Unfortunately the cafe was closed and demolished in 2000, however it has since been re-assembled to its full glory at the Amberley Working Museum and is once again serving teas, coffees and cakes.

We found a path that was fairly straight at the top of Rewell Hill and tracked it through the woods that also contained many yew trees amongst the dense beech woodland, it was great to see the occasional marsh orchid amongst this wooded landscape too. After a short way we dropped down the hill to the open grazing land of the Fairmile Bottom, the yew trees here had been fenced off due to their toxicity to any cattle that grazed this land. Looking up at the woodland it was fascinating to see the many contrasting colours of green amongst the trees, from the fresh new leaves of spring to the hard dark spines of the yew trees, spring seems a great time to visit this reserve as many yellow cowslips were in full bloom.

After walking through the open grassland we headed back up the hill through what seems a tunnel of yew trees to the top of Rewell Hill, where we were met with a lovely array of blue bells with their misty blue haze on the forest floor and delightful aromas floating in the air.

DSC_0246

We passed through Rewell Wood, another area of managed forest that also has patches of open land where trees once stood and that have since been cut back, distant blue bells added a hue of blue on this desolate forest floor. After passing Rewell House we were soon back in open downland and being rewarded with some fine views to the coast overlooking Bognor, Littlehampton and beyond to Worthing. The spire of the Arundel Cathedral could also just be made out at the distant end of the path that we were following.

DSC_0249

We dropped back into the woods that are above chalk springs and followed the path back to Waterwoods Cottages where we started, passing a few more patches of wild garlic on the way.

The recipe for this months trek has been inspired from both the smell of wild garlic in there air and trout from Chalk Springs.

Trout Fishcakes with Wild Garlic Salsa Verde

For the Fishcakes:

  • 400g Cooked Chalk Springs Trout, flaked and bones removed
  • 300g Mashed Potato with milk
  • 3 Spring Onions, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp Parmesan Cheese, finely grated
  • 2 tbsp Dill
  • Zest of 1 Lemon with juice of half
  • Beaten Egg
  • Flour
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Salt
  • Pepper

For the Salsa Verde:

  • 1 clove garlic, crushed or chopped
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • 2 tbsp handful Kalamata Olives
  • 4 tbsp flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 2 tbsp wild garlic leaves, chopped (or Chives if out of season)
  • 1 – 2 tbsp red wine vinegar or lemon juice
  • 3 cornichons
  • 1 tsp French mustard
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Method:

  1. Make the salsa verde by roughly chopping the parsley, wild garlic (chives), garlic, olives, capers and cornichons then mix all together. Then put into a large bowl and add the mustard, extra virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  2. For the fishcakes; mash the potato with a dash of milk in a large bowl then add the trout, chopped spring onion, lemon zest & juice, dill and parmesan cheese and thoroughly mixc. Add salt & pepper to test the seasoning, then leave mixture to cool. ]
  3. Divide the chilled mixture into as many portions as required depending on the size of fishcake preferred.
  4. Coat each cake in the flour then dip them in the egg and coat in the breadcrumbs. Fry the fishcakes in hot oil until golden brown and crisp.
  5. Serve with a fresh asparagus salad and Nutbourne tomatoes.

 

Enjoy……

IMG_0341

Foodie Trek – March 2018

Trundle, Charlton, Levin Down & Cheese

A circular walk of 10km (6 Miles) celebrating Goodwood cheese and taking in two distinctive hills, ‘The Trundle’ with it’s fantastic views across Sussex and Levin Down, a nature reserve with some outstanding features in the landscape.

31st March 2018

Theres’s no tasting on today’s trek however the walk takes us to some beautiful parts of Sussex that Goodwood has named it’s cheeses after, namely Levin Down and Charlton.

Susan, Belinda, Tim & Kiah joined PK and i today for this months foodie trek and as a bit of a teaser we drove by Goodwood and down the hill that we were soon to be climbing back up, haha!

We parked on the street in Singleton, just outside the Partridge Inn and changed into my nice clean dubbed boots. Singleton is an anglo-saxon village nestled in the Lavant Valley amidst the hills of The South Downs National Park, it’s name comes from ‘sengal’ which means burn’t clearing, not sure why it is derived from that. We left the village passing through the churchyard of the Saxon church ‘Blessed Virgin of St Mary’ and then into Manor Farm for our first encounter with squidgy mud as we trudged through we each tried to pick the best route through with some sinking deeper than others in the mud. Clean boots no longer……doh!. Ahead of us now was the climb up to the ‘Trundle’, why do we put such a steep climb in straight away at the start of the trek.

DSC_0106

I had my nordic poles with me today and found that they actually helped in walking up the hill as i could push on them with my arms too. As we ascended the hill we could see the weald and downland museum through the leafless trees to our right and the new downland gridshell building that has been built there. The ‘ Weald and Downland’ Museum started with a single building in 1968 and now 50 years on has over 50 buildings from the South East of England, each carefully dismantled and rebuilt in the museum. The museum has various themed days throughout the year and courses on rural trades & crafts. I have visited the museum on a few occasions and the food fare and christmas market they put on are great as the whole place comes alive and it’s very clever how exhibitors are placed around the site in the many buildings, i particularly enjoy seeing and tasting the food cooked over the open fires that would have once been eaten in the time of the old houses. Onwards and upwards with views to Goodwood Racecourse to our left.

DSC_0105

The first steep part of the hill complete and after lots of puffing and panting it levels off a little and is now a gradual climb to the road and car park, the jokes about why didn’t we park here were so predictable, but funny all the same. From the car park it was another steep climb to to the top of the trundle, passing through the stiffest gate i have ever encountered, they must have hardcore sheep here, i made it into a good workout though. Onwards and upwards we were soon on the remnants of the fort walls on which we walked around the entire perimeter. The walk up was quite hot and now on top is quite cold in the breeze that’s blowing. The trundle also known as ‘St Roches Hill stands at 206m (676ft) and has a gentler climb from the south unlike the steeper climb we chose from the north. The Trundle is the site of an old iron age hill fort and the ditches/embankments can be clearly picked out and would have formed the fort walls, they are great to walk around. Apparently there was a chapel up here too, but there is no evidence of this here anymore. There was some fantastic views on the top over sussex and hampshire to the Isle of Wight, Portsmouth’s high buildings could be picked out of the slightly hazy distance and the Isle of Wight looms out from the sea.

From the Trundle we headed down to the road, and followed the outskirts of the world famous Goodwood racecourse that has held horse racing here since 1802, when the Third Duke of Richmond introduced horse racing to Goodwood for the benefit of the officers of the Sussex Militia. A detour into the woods of Goodwood Country Park would have been good here too.

At the far end of the racecourse we took the chalky track down through the managed forest of Charlton Park. We had loads to talk about and rather than set the map up i led the way down the wrong track, after heading down through the woods for a while, i suddenly realised that we should be by the side of the racecourse. PK took great delight in checking on his App to confirm that we were on the wrong path and then told all sorts of tales about how his app has saved the day……lol, (i still prefer the map and compass though). We now had to do a slight back track here as the talking was what made us go down the wrong path, something i was always telling the scouts about.

We set up the map at the paths junction and took the correct track this time that runs alongside part of the racecourse giving some great views down the track. This path eventually leads into Charlton, passing a memorial to the troops of the Sussex Yeomanry who served in WW1 and WW2. Albeit a small village Charlton has a number of surprising claims to fame, such as, the place where the first Women’s Institute in England held its inaugural meeting at ‘The Fox Goes Free Inn’ during the First World War and it also appeared as a fictional Scottish village called Tullock in the episode ‘Terror of the Zygons’ of Dr Who in 1975. We tried to eat lunch at the ‘Fox goes Free’ but found that they had no space for us as it was easter weekend and they were packed out. We decided to phone ahead top the partridge inn at singleton and continue on.

We left Charlton by road to the west and soon after head up ‘Levin Down’, a nature reserve that is managed by the West Sussex Wildlife Trust. Levin Down is covered in natural scrubby grassland, the landscape of this reserve is so different from the surrounding agricultural fields and is a site of special scientific interest. The name Levin Down is derived from ‘Leave Alone Hill’ which meant that the land was too steep to plough, whereby allowing an abundance of flora, fauna and wildlife to flourish here. It also has some great views looking out over Charlton, Singleton and Goodwood beyond. It was a muddy steep climb up to the reserve and due to the chill in the air we didn’t see much wildlife. We had been extremely lucky with the weather today and albeit a bit cold on the top of the trundle it was pleasantly mild otherwise. However on Levin Down looking out beyond the Lavant Valley we could see that Singleton was beginning to disappear into a haze of rain which was headed straight for us, the cloud must have been moving at some speed as shortly after it did indeed start to rain, however not too hard and also whilst we was on the descent to singleton.

We entered Singleton by the cemetery and school and just before us was the River Lavant in full flow, a great opportunity to wash some of the chalky mud from our boots. A short walk through the village and we were back at the car outside the Partridge Inn, so in we went for our meal that we had booked. The food here is really good and uses different ingredients, we all ate well and the ‘Red Bream, Fregola, Garlic Sauce & Nutbourne Tomatoes’ from the specials board was absolutely delicious.

Goodwood Cheese

This month i feel that a recipe is not required and that the three cheeses that Goodwood produces (Charlton, Levin Down and Molecomb Blue) which are all named after the locality, should be served quite simply on a cheese board with fresh fruit, crackers and a good homemade chutney. Enjoy!