RICHARD WILLIAMSON Country Walk...Charlton Park

Downs, woods, villages, views, birds, flowers, butterflies and courses for horses in this 5.2-mile (8.5kms) ramble through the best of British countryside.

Park at Counters Gate, east end of Goodwood Racecourse SU897114.

Cross road into sunkway, west, with bluebells, violets, arum lilies, dog’s mercury. At metal gate ahead on blue arrow onto hard track.

Primroses, brimstone butterflies, common blues in summer.

The scrubby woods right of hazel and ash home to chiffchaffs, blackcap warblers.

View left past the race track to Iron Age fort on Trundle now with its bronze horse sculpture placed upon the ancient original Neolithic circle.

Downhill brings another view right to East Dean. Early violets here are hybridized sweetxhairy. celandines on the track banks too and the tall beech trees support nuthatches and greater spotted woodpeckers, long-tailed tits and great tits.

Wend your way left then right through Charlton to the main road and cross that north-east up North Lane with Woodstock Hotel to right.

Many of Charlton’s houses were originally Charlton Hunt barracks, the famous ten-hour chase of ‘an old bitch fox’ to the banks of the Arun in 1738 settling a debate among the nobility of England as to which was the premier hunt. The other bit of useless information about this village is the amusing tale of how diarist John Evelyn’s coachmen were, during a visit from London in 1669 made incapably drunk by Charlton’s hunt servants and fell off their coach boxes and were left ‘on the heath’ while gentleman John continued to the city in another coach.

Splendid sculptured hazel hedges along the lane, but at left turn take the right yellow arrow up steep bank onto downland and march north-east across North Down.

Through kissing-gate in the fence left, then follow the sheep path across this lovely silent down. Note ancient settlements on Court Hill to right. Cross stile into Scratlee wood, then right on yellow, south-east. Note Bronze Age field boundaries that you cross.

Also felled 1987 hurricane beeches.

At arable field follow left edge, then continue straight line aiming just left of distant horizon pylon.

You should then join blue arrow right along the rue bridleway towards East Dean. Tarry a while on AE West’s seat overlooking village, visit 12th-century All Saints with its 100 species of wild flowers in surrounds and the poem by Christopher Fry inside.

Through village with a pint at the Star and Garter, left past the pond with its reed mace and mallard, and left up the road to Goodwood. Under the rookery and the power cables turn right into meadows on yellow arrow, follow the barbed wire fence west. Down and up, left under a field maple to climb the hill south-west into Park Hill wood.

The footpath, travelled by Charles II in 1651, is part of Monarch’s Way, taking us back southward to the ancient car built in 1948 out of which I am glad to say I have never fallen incapable nor hunted a fox though I did race it round the car track once.