RICHARD WILLIAMSON: Country Walk: Winding Bottom to Cow Bottom

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Here is a nice long walk of 6.6 miles (10.5 kms) over the Downs to the north of Lancing.

You can park in the layby at TQ162080 1.5 miles north of Sompting up Titch Hill. This minor road runs north off the A27 and continues on to Steyning.

This is the time of year for the walk as all the summer flowers and butterflies are out along your route.

Look especially for the bright purple clusters of hardhead (Centaurea nigra) which is in the thistle family but has no prickles. It attracts butterflies. I saw painted ladies, large skippers, marbled whites, gatekeepers and meadow browns nectaring

on them. Other flowers

include greater knapweed, bird’sfoot trefoil, agrimony and cranesbill.

Start eastward on blue bridleway sign from car park. You will pass wayfaring bushes, so named because they always lined pilgrim routes like live milestone markers over any limestone country in olden time.

Sharp left at junction which is under power cables. This track takes you north over downland fields. At the road you find Monarch’s Way going east along the ridge of Annington Hill for the next mile. This place gives you the wide open spaces like the prairies of the USA.

The path curves to the right, above Winding Bottom, then curves left and joins another bridleway. Leave Monarch’s Way here and head sharp right down to Coombes Road in the Adur valley.

After 500 yards on this road look for a bridleway to the right through the farm building and up through the small wood. At this point look for the footpath yellow arrow that continues south through farm fields.

If you turn right here, this bridleway will take you more quickly back to your car. You have a fine view of the sea, and also Lancing College perched above the airfield. The footpath crosses

a stile, plunges into a rue of

11 different shrubs showing it to be 1,000 years old.

Here you will see that wayside flower: black horehound, which is in the nettle family, and once was once called Stinking Roger.

Down into Cow Bottom I walked, hearing a corn bunting and seeing a wide, dry valley to the right, beyond the old stone hovel where sheep and cattle have in the past been corralled.

The climb out to Lancing Hill is rough grassland with wood tor grass and several ringlet and meadow brown butterflies flying languidly about, laying their eggs therein.

Over fields at the top, brings you to the crossways with a right turn northwest along the track leading up to the woods of Lancing Ring nature reserve. I stayed on this course and breasted Steep Down with its Neolithic cross dyke.

Here again was a corn bunting singing away, its song likened by some to the jangling of a bunch of church keys. Once again the view ahead seems almost to eternity, so remote the spot. Then it was downhill all the way, a turn left back to my old Alvis car, still going strong. But it didn’t have to walk the six miles along the dusty ways up hill and down dale. The A27 back home is almost level most of the way.