RICHARD WILLIAMSON Country Walk...Heyshott

Here is a circular stroll of three miles (4.8kms) across farmland and through woods, with the South Downs rising high into the sky nearby.

Heyshott village SU900177 has parking at the lovely local where you enjoy a drink and a bite. Bridleway at road junction takes you through Manor Farm southeast.

Please keep dogs on leads throughout this walk as there are shooting activities which are vital to the rural economy: pheasants, partridges and deer.

Leaving the farm and walking east soon take the footpath east, leaving the bridleway which goes south, while you continue down slope to where there was once a barn.

The path rises. To the right are the downland coombes of the very steep Gadd’s Bottom, Coombe Bottom, and then Little Graffham Bottom. Finally just on east is Golden Coombe Bottom.

All these coombes were scoured out during the last Ice Ages which ended 10,000 years ago, and are covered with fairly recent forests of ash and yew trees. They would have been sheep pastures over a century ago as they still are at Amberley and in East Sussex.

At Hayland Farm take the left at footpath crossways heading north for a while, soon turning northeast for Woodcote Farm along metalled track with view to the right of Graffham church with its little spire. Before coming to the house on the left, look for stile on left where footpath takes you into Baxter’s Copse.

A very tiny stream will sometimes be flowing, having sprung from near Woodcote Farm.

The mature beech and oak forest here is habitat for the silver-washed fritillary, white admiral, and purple emperor butterflies to be seen in July and August. The path rises and soon falls again to another winter stream.

Left on to made up forest track and left again to continue west, with Hoyle Copse to the right. Hoyle is Old English for hollow, then spelt holh.

This mature wood of firs, oaks and beeches gives way to a single strip of woodland of oaks and ashes which we follow westward. Again please ensure dogs are strictly on leads.

To the left runs Thorny Copse and our path meets up with Hoyle Lane leading left back to Heyshott which meant ‘heather-covered land’.

Fragments of that still to be found northeast of Heyshott and Ambersham Commons, of course.

Some old Morris Travellers used to be painted purple heather colour, I remember, but I haven’t seen one lately.