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.

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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.

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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.

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