LAST week the district council’s HeartSmart walking group decided to venture along the newly opened extension to the Centurion Way.
This footpath, for over a mile, goes from Binderton to West Dean. The morning was sunny, the walk was magical.
It follows the course of the old Chichester to Midhurst railway.
The path is firm and wide, ideal for chatting while walking. There are super views, never seen before, of sections of the gentle river Lavant.
As for the skew railway bridge just south of West Dean, this must be one of the finest feats of Victorian engineering in Sussex.
It is a real work of art, a tribute to the skill of our railway navvy forebears.
Go and walk through it; it’s amazing.
But sadly, there is a sting in the tail at the end of this extension.
Arriving at the southern portal of the blocked West Dean tunnel, there is no escape down to West Dean village, just one hundred yards to the east. The only recourse is to retrace your steps right back to Binderton.
This is a total nonsense. Walkers would love to have a coffee at nearby West Dean Stores, or a beer in ‘The Dean’, or take the number 60 bus back to Chichester.
All these activities would help the local economy, as well as provide a pleasant end to some strenuous exertion.
There used to be a path off from the railway track, just 40 yards down to the pavement on the main A286 road, south of West Dean Primary School playing field.
Why has the West Dean Estate now fenced this off with a huge, and hugely ugly, bolted metal fence?
I am saddened to write this letter. The path is, I repeat, wonderful and uplifting, ideal for our walking group which is mainly composed of the active retired, often 40 or 50 in number.
The volunteer leaders organise these walks of about three miles on almost a daily basis. Anyone is welcome.
As ramblers, we all love our county of West Sussex. What we don’t love is a route to nowhere.
To quote Led Zeppelin we want to ‘ramble on’, not ramble back!
Surely the relevant landowner can get together with the county council and sort this out, by providing an access down to the village?