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.

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