Octagon Parish Walk – Part 2

Following on from last month, this trek is a 18km (11 miles) walk around the remaining four churches of the Octagon Parish 

The trek starts at Stansted House, which started out as a hunting lodge in the 11th century. The original house was burnt down in 1900, and was rebuilt in 1903. The House and Estate are now owned by Stansted Park Foundation. The history of Stansted Park since the 12th century is told in Lord Bessborough’s book ‘The Enchanted Forest’ and is open to the public from Easter to September. 

Follow the southern edge of Stansted Deer Park onto Park Lane towards Racton and the ruined folly that is Racton Monument. Built between 1766 and 1775 it is situated on the hill with views over Chichester Harbour and to the Isle of Wight, it was commissioned by the 2nd Earl of Halifax as a summerhouse to the nearby Stansted House, though it was more likely to be built so he could watch his merchants ships dock at the port at Emsworth. The triangular four storey tower has been abandoned for over a century and fallen into a state of ruin with many haunted stories to tell.

Just along the lane at Racton is the small 12th century aisle less downland church of St Peter. It contains significant monuments to the Gounter family who owned Racton Manor opposite (now demolished) and music is played on a fantastic example of a French Alexandre Harmonium.

Head away from the Church Northeastwards on B2147 and pick up the footpath which passes Lordington House, built around 1500 this house has seen much history with owners such as Sir Geoffrey Pole, Sir Geoffrey Hornby and in more recent times politician Sir Micheal Hamilton whose family now run it as a guest house.

If the season allows a short detour is a must to Lordington Lavender when on open days you can sit amongst the rows of Mailette lavender and immerse yourself in the calming aromas, a French Provencal lavender is farmed for its high quality oil and is harvested once a year.

Continue on the path by the River Ems, a seasonal chalk stream that used to power mills and feed watercress beds. At Walderton pick up the Monarchs Way and follow to St Mary’s at Stoughton, the largest church of the Octagon Parish which has not changed much since the 11th century when it was built. St Mary’s has a fine ring of six bells.

Back track a little from Stoughton and cross open downland to Watergate Hangar, where a Roman Villa had been excavated, pottery found at the site indicates that it was occupied between the 2nd and the 4th centuries. On the northern perimeter of Stansted Forest can be found Christchurch at Forestside, which was built in 1852 by Charles Dixon, a wealthy Victorian philanthropist and the owner of nearby Stansted House, to serve his estate workers and the village of Forestside. The East window contains an unusual dragon in the bottom right hand corner and the heads on the chancel arch are a young Queen Victoria and a Bishop of Chichester. A school once adjoined the church but has but is now a private house.

From here there are many routes through Stansted Forest back to the start and this final stretch culminates with fantastic views of Stansted House itself.

The last church in the parish is the Chapel of St Paul which was built between 1812-16 by Rev. Lewis Way to reunite the Jewish and christian faiths, this is depicted in the unique East window and is believed to be the only window in a christian church with Jewish symbolism. The chapel was also an inspiration to the poet John Keats when he was writing The Eve of St. Agnes and the Eve of St Mark. The windows were all refurbished after being blown out when a german aircraft crashed nearby in the battle of Britain. This chapel is only open once a month for prayer and on special services. 

A visit to the garden centre, farm shop, tea rooms and miniature railway is also a must whilst in the area.

Further information and walks can be found at http://theoctagonparish.org.uk

Blakes Mead Art Trail

Blakes Mead Art Trail (Felpham)

This months trek follows on from the success of the Bersted Park Art Trail and continues the theme by exploring the wooden sculptures situated within the new Blakes Mead housing estate in Felpham. These works of art have been commissioned by ADC and funded by the developers of the estate to bring some magnificent features. 

This local trail is accessible to all, starting at the Felpham Community Centre it takes in eight sculptures that have been created by local chainsaw carver Simon Groves and are designed to reflect Felpham’s connection with the sea, agriculture, nature and William Blake.

The first sculpture situated by the community centre is a ‘Trail Guide*’ that gives details where the other seven sculptures can be found. This route differs from the Bersted Park trail as it is more developed, however this article details the best way to navigate around the trail taking in as many green spaces as possible.

From the community centre follow the public footpath towards Felpham. The first sculpture sited at the end of a grassed area and centred between a triangle of three newly planted Oak trees is a ‘Giant Acorn*’ that represents the wood used for the sculptures and will change in perspective as the oak trees surrounding it grow taller.

Site of Giant Acorn

Continue on the footpath and over a small bridge that is crossing one of the many flood relief tributaries to another small open grassed area where a giant ‘Sycamore Seed’ has been carved out as a bench and shaped as a giant replica of the seed.

Sycamore Seed

Join the cycle track that leads away from Felpham and which borders the western end of the estate to the main A259. At this point a public amenity space is being created and great views can be had of the south downs. Take a right and follow the grassed areas behind the raised tree laden bank which provides a sound barrier from the road. Walking round the flood relief ponds that are extremely dry at the moment to the far end of the recreation field and take a rest on the ‘Animal Tracks Bench’, which is very simple in design but cleverly features the wild tracks of the rabbit, heron and deer all of which can be spotted nearby, particularly so, if extending your walk to the fields beyond.

Continue to follow the northern border, past more relief ponds and on a small grassed circle where paths converge is the ‘The Seaside Totem Pole’ that links Felpham with the sea, it has been carved very cleverly incorporating many creatures and features of the sea, How many can you see?, every time i look at it i find something different.

Still keeping to the edge, cross the entry road and remain on the grass, just before a further play park is the amazing ‘Tyger Tyger Bench’ which is a link to William Blake depicting his famous poem, this sculpture showcases a life size tiger on a bench, that is so realistic it’s unreal. 

From here pass amongst the trees that have been kept in place and once made up the original footpath from the end of Normans Drive to estate edge and follow to the pond that was put in with fountains as a decorative feature to the estate outside the first show homes that were built. Aptly situated by this pond is the ‘Kingfisher statue’, towering above the ducks below. Look carefully as fish can be seen in the pond and herons are often seen here stalking them. The fountains have long gone but the pond remains as a lovely feature.

Kingfisher Statue

A short cut can be taken to the last carving but i prefer to continue around the edge, passing through the trees to the last flood relief pond and back through to the far end of the trail where there is the ‘Way Marker’ indicating local sites in Blakes Mead and beyond, the base it sits on features Felpham’s links to agriculture and farming. Head in the direction of ‘Felpham Rec’ sign and work your way back to the community centre to complete this trail.

* Sculptures not in place at time of writing but are due to be installed soon

A Walk in the Park

More of a stroll this month than a trek, taking in some more magnificent wooden sculptures created by Simon Groves along with exploring the hidden areas and history of Hotham Park. The 9 hectare (22 acres) of park can be explored by any route following the many paths but the suggested route below takes in the main features and some lesser known areas.

Starting off at the car park by the Lodge, once the Bognor Museum and now the HQ for the Hotham Park Heritage Trust head on the tarmac drive towards the bandstand, where a variety of music can be enjoyed on certain days throughout the summer. The main Hotham House stands proud at the end of the drive and was built in the late 1780’s by Sir Richard Hotham who developed a lot of Bognor that we know today. When the house was first built it was known as ‘Chapel House’ and the clock tower is all that remains of the chapel, built next to the house it chimes 156 times every day. The house has also had some notable owners that have all made their mark over the years. John Fletcher bought the house in 1857 and renamed it ‘Bersted Lodge’. William Fletcher inherited the estate in the late 1800’s, he changed the name to ‘Aldwick Manor’ and developed the grounds, planting many of the trees. One notable tree in the park is the cork oak, which allegedly was planted in the 1870s when Mrs Fletcher picked up the acorn at Goodwood. It was to be their own special commemoration of the year that they got married 

Next to the house can be seen the new sundial made by Harriet James, this replaced the 17th century one that was made by Henry Wynne and had suffered much damage and vandalism over the years. The new dial is based on the original design albeit a little simpler, it shows time, compass directions and date curves for the summer/winter solstices and also beholds the crest of Sir Richard Hotham.

Follow the drive around to the boating lake that has provided recreation for many years. Although fenced off access is via a gate and a walk around the lake will reveal a Mediterranean Garden to the south that is adorned with many palm and olive trees. To the north of the lake behind the cafe is the Winter Garden where many plants flourish in the colder climes. 

The Hotham Park railway station can also be seen just by the boating lake. A miniature railway has been operating in the park since 1969, however in 2005 it was removed and then replaced in 2007 with a 12 1/4” track gauge that is still running today.

The rose garden can also be seen by the railway station that was created following the 1987 storm which destroyed many trees in the park. 

Looking out from the cafe and beyond the grass mound is the wildlife conservation area. A fenced off area and pond that has been left to develop naturally attracting many flora and fauna. Much nature can be seen in the park from squirrels scurrying around to woodpeckers tapping high in the trees.

Head to the area known as the William Fletcher’s arboretum which is central to the park, take a moment to enjoy the ornamental pond or a rest in the Mary Macfie pavilion. The arboretum not only contains a fine selection of trees planted by William but added more recently is a series of wooden sculptures featuring characters from Alice in Wonderland, the theme chosen by local schools. Look out for Alice, The White Rabbit, Queen of Hearts and even enjoy a picnic with the Mad Hatter at his table, There is also a memorial bench that has been carved to remember Danny Johnston a soldier who served in the Prince of Wales Royal Regiment (PWRR Tigers).

Whilst on the stroll look out for the hidden gem that is a carved wooden owl, not easily discovered but can be found in one of the areas mentioned above.

To discover more about the trees in the park and Sir Richards Hotham influence on the town then visit https://bognorregistrails.co.uk where more historical trails created by the bognor Regis Heritage Partnership can be found.

The Four Falls Trail

5th August 2019

9km (5.5 miles)

This months local trek was meant to be a follow up on the Bersted Park Trail, but unfortunately not all the new sculptures are in place yet, which means that I need to postpone this publication until the trail is all complete.

So instead, I thought I would share a fantastic walk from a recent holiday that encompasses four incredible waterfalls all in one trail. The walk is much further afield and situated in the beautiful Brecon Beacons near to Aberdare in Wales, so if you happen to be up that way then this is a must. It is a strenuous walk of 9km (5.5 miles) over some exceptionally narrow, steep and rocky trails which will take 4 to 5 hours to do.

Park in the pay and display car park at Gwaun Hepste, that charges £4 for the day, so make sure you have change as there is no card payment here. (Cwm Porth is an alternative car park).

The circular route is a red waymarked trail and is made up of a wide gravel track into the forest, which is steady underfoot at the beginning then starts to descend towards the river Afon Mellte, where it provides a safe route on the rocks. Each waterfall is then accessed by a much more difficult link path waymarked in green that are very narrow, particularly rocky and steep with many steps, these tracks are tough but will lead to the best views of the falls. 

After about a 35 minute walk from the car park the rushing sound of the first waterfall can be heard and a short link path leads to Sgwd Clun-Gwyn fall, meaning the ‘fall of the white meadow’. The river pours over a third of this broad rock with a relatively big drop into a small pool where thrill seekers can sometimes be seen canyoning. Sgwd Clun-Gwyn is also the first of two sets of falls that are a few hundred metres apart on the river. Head back up to the red trail as this is the safer route to Sgwd Isaf Clun-Gwyn, it seems a long way round with the long steep rocky link path that descends 150m back to the river with over 90 steps, however following the river edge is very dangerous with some steep drops and should be avoided. The lower twin of the previous fall is a picturesque river that cascades over tiers of rock like a giant staircase into a steep gorge.

A short rocky walk back along the river leads to the beautiful Sgwd y Pannwr falls whose Welsh name reveals that it was once used for washing wool. It is made up of four separate tumbling falls of water spilling over channels in the rock to a shallow pool below. 

A steep ascent from these falls back to the trail and a further descent of 150m and 170 steps brings us to the most magnificent of the falls Sgwd yr Eira meaning ‘waterfall of snow’. A large expanse of water tumbles over the high rocks creating a thundering curtain of water that has a fairly narrow ledge behind where farmers used to lead their sheep, presumably in single file to get to the other side of the river, this is a magnificent experience to be able to walk behind such a truly amazing phenomenon, on sunny days the colours of the rainbow can also be seen in the mist of the water below. 

Listening to a waterfall is a great way to wash away your daily worries and de-stress, the strenuous walk to these ‘hidden gems’ is certainly worth getting back to nature and away from all the hustle and bustle.

On heading back to the car park take time for a slight detour into the woods to see the eerie moss covered trees where very little sunlight gets through the thick leaf cover above.

Bersted Park Art Trail

3km (1.8 miles) Circular route

After reading Sarah Davey’s feature last month about staying at home and discovering local areas i thought it would be a great idea to feature a local walk that is accessible to all. So this month a 3km (1.8 mile) trek takes in all the wooden sculptures at Bersted Park that have been created by local chainsaw artist Simon Groves. Bersted Park is the new housing development in North Bersted and is bordered by the redirected A259, within the 26 hectare site are large areas that cannot be built on and now feature the art trail along with a trim trail, lake, sports pitches and a community centre. Arun District council are managing this area in an environmentally friendly way with fields of wild flowers. Over a two year project Berkeley Homes have funded a total of 10+ sculptures as part of their conditions for this new development. Local residents were consulted for ideas on what the sculptures should be and each piece has been expertly carved out of locally sourced sustainable oak. A trail map can be found on the Arun District Council’s website which can be printed off and shows three routes of varying lengths.

The walk starts at the Bersted Park Community Centre and to the right of the building at the edge of the car park can be found the first sculpture featuring a ‘Trail Guide’ showing the three routes. The route featured in this article is the full route marked in yellow. Follow the trail into the fields towards the second sculpture which is a tractor and bales of hay, great for children who can sit on this and imagine that they are farming the fields.

Keeping to the edge of the field continue to the lake, this small body of water has been strategically created as flood relief to this low lying area. It is connected to a number of streams and drainage ditches and ultimately links up with the Aldingbourne Rife. At the end of the lake is a carved wooden sofa where you can sit and take in the native wetland habitat, Yellow Flag Iris can be seen along the edge amongst many wild flowers and the rare water vole may even be seen. In the middle of the lake is an island that features an egrets sculpture, the white of the birds can just be seen above the bushes.

The route goes round the lake and along the southern edge of the park to the trim trail, made up of various outdoor exercise apparatus this is great for those who want to further workout and burn a few extra calories.  At this point a rest can be had on the dragonfly bench and whilst sitting here the orchid sculpture can be seen a little further on.

Double back and follow Barton’s lane to the entrance of the sports field where a great sculpture depicting a football boot and cricket stumps stands. From here the walk continues outside of the sports field, however an eleventh sculpture can be found on this field which is well worth taking a detour to, as the artwork is really amazing.

At this point in the trail swifts can be seen circling around, some great views of the South Downs can be had and a group of three grazing sheep can be seen strategically placed in the middle of the meadow.

Just past here is the WW2 Pill Box, one of thousands that were built along the south coast in 1940 which would have been manned by the home guard to hamper any enemy invasion.

At the far corner of Bersted Park can be seen the waymarker pointing to key areas like Eastfield conservation area and Bersted Brooks that are also worth further exploring if you want to extend the walk.

Follow the sign’s direction and head back to the community centre where the last sculpture called historic piece can be seen on the trail. A great walk for all the family to enjoy.

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.
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.
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.
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.


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.