I went out into the high Weald again for this lovely walk of 5.2 miles (8.5kms) through the hills and vales a mile SW of Haslemere.
Take the minor road west off the A286 at Kingsley Green for Marley Common, where after half a mile you will find a National Trust car park on left of the road: Grid ref. SU889309. Yellow arrow runs southwards, almost straight out of the car park, downhill into the woods. Look for bilberry plants which in late summer have edible black fruit. This is damp to soggy land so the moss forms emerald green cushions. Keep left at junctions. You will come to a spring where ferns and rushes grow.
The footpath climbs up under Douglas firs to Moses Hill Farm, where turn right and right again. Listen out for firecrests and goldcrests in the evergreens. Follow the road around High Marley to a splendid view of Blackdown Hill to left and Henley Hill to right with the South Downs between. Look for a steep path down to the right near a low brick wall. There is a stile at the bottom where now turn right, west, into the chestnut coppice of Greenhill Wood for about a mile.
At first track junction keep right, at second keep left, at third, keep right. This will bring you to the road at Shulbrede Priory and on turning right to Linchmere (Wlenka’s lake). Shulbrede is from Old English ‘scylf’ meaning a rocky shelf, and ‘braedu’ meaning breadth, or strip of land. To avoid walking all the way to Linchmere by road, a footpath cuts out the loop as shown on my map.
In either case you will be near enough to St. Peters church, much of which has been reorganised by the Victorians, while there is a pleasant view down into Golden Valley and on to Stanley Common nature reserve. This is a time-warp and friendly village. At the far end, look for the Sussex Border Path which runs for over a mile eastward back to your car. There is plenty of holly here which should produce holly blue butterflies, the first brood of the year emerging in late April.
The old beech hedge has in places grown into trees exhibiting peculiar animal-like shapes. There were two great spotted woodpeckers that I heard drumming, while the titmouse family are all around, squeaking and chirping, with marsh tits making tic-tic-tic songs like old spring wrist watches pinging in your ears. And if you don’t hear a cuckoo in these woods I’ll eat my hat. Turn right at the road the back to the car park.
On second thoughts I shall need my hat now that the warmer weather allows the hood to be lowered on my tatty old Alvis.