RICHARD WILLIAMSON: WALK: Stedham Marsh and Titty Hill

I wore sandals for this three-mile (4.8km) wander through the damp woods last week and just about got away with it.

Walking boots are better by now, as autumn careers towards Christmas.

Park in National Trust free car park next to Woolbeding Common, north of Midhurst, at SU864254.

I walked north down Linch road to Redford village.

This road isn’t too busy and the scenery is pleasant, but if traffic worries you there are various paths through the common land above as shown on my map.

One of these I include in this walk.

I came back to the road by a country garage in Redford that almost reminded me of a time-warp from Foyle’s War.

Continuing past Redford Farm with massive hazels up the bank, I turned left on fingerpost into the fields.

This is a farm conservation zone, hence the thick hedges and sunflowers planted for the birds.

A plantation of 50-year-old Douglas firs was being felled here, the sap smelling sweetly.

The wild grass on the field path is Agrostis: heath bent.

I turned right to Slathurst Farm, under an oak which had dropped masses of artichoke galls, which is not a very common sight.

The farm gets its name from Old English where slat is a low dell, hurst meant woodland.

That, indeed, is what I was heading for in my sandals, after turning left through the farm and again down Lambourne Lane.

Even bourne, meaning stream, should have warned me, never mind the marsh horsetails growing by the field path.

Sliding about in the wet clay, I was accompanied

by a grey wagtail, a bird of the river.

In medieval times a wide shaw, with ditches and raised pathway, was created through this wet jungle as a safe way.

Once I passed a badger sett, carved out of a pocket of yellow sand deposited here three million years ago when this was an estuary flooding into the North Sea.

With Pond Bay to my left, hidden deep in the spongy woods, passing Hammer stream spring, I climbed up out of the dell, and turned right on yellow arrow, up four little steps, through woodland whose ground flora was dominated in parts by lesser periwinkle.

This dark green creeping plant flowers in early spring.

The name comes from periwig, a woven headpiece of old.

I turned left along the road to Titty Hill hamlet, turned right on purple arrow, the restricted byway.

This took me downhill to another dell, where a blue arrow directed me left into another swamp.

An ancient stone wall helped to maintain the ditch on the right.

The footpath followed the edges of two rushy little meadows, each with a tiny pond in its corner.

Emperor dragonflies were cruising above these.

At the crossways I turned left on yellow arrow, kept ahead at the next crossways, and then found myself in a jungle, with the odd fallen tree across the footpath, and marching through a mat of bog plants.

Never despair, I say to you if you do this paddle, just keep going straight ahead, as I did, in the same direction, and you will eventually find your car at the top of the hill. I hope.