I really enjoyed this walk last week with its views of heather moors, tall pines, parkland oaks, and stupendous views of the Downland ridge.
Park in National Trust car park at Lavington Common SU949187 one mile west of the A285. Distance 3.5 miles (6kms). Look for notice ‘Circular Woodland Walk’ southeast out of car park and follow this as it soon turns left past a small woodland pond. Note tufts of unusual grass which is tufted hair grass.
Our path now goes ENE for a mile. First we cross the moor, or heath. Most of heather is Calluna vulgaris, also called ling. This has to be kept cleared of pines and birch trees, and rhododendron invades all the time. The narrow causeway on our walk has tall thin pines at the end which I always think look like Lowry figures. The trees almost seem human, like the knights in Monty Python who say ‘Ni, ni’.
Leave access land and onwards into holly thickets, and tall, cool, murmuring pines with bark red as a fox. Lots of puddles. Nuthatches and wood pigeons calling.
Keep on east at blue arrow next to four trunked alder trees. Cross stream with little pool of sandy water where you can imagine Tarka. Up slope eastward past metal gate where I found fly agaric toadstools. Either llamas or alpacas to left, then their likeness in a garden sculpture which is rather fun. Note the large heart-shaped leaves of ladies’ petticoats on the right.
At the road turn left, keeping to pavement. I noted an Aston Martin DB9 in West Sussex Specialist Cars. After 180m right on blue arrow and Serpent Trail into gloomy laurel and willow tunnel at end of which sharp right and then we cross a road into Burton Park Farm on blue arrow. Just past the geese and hens, leave the track, turn right and follow the long tall hedge on its east, left side as it runs SSW.
Three-hundred-year-old oaks loaded with acorns, some of the trees dead, some lying like Stone Age canoes. Ahead the wonderful downs with Chanctonbury ring to left on to Butser to right. Below to left the creamy pink confection of Burton Park house, 1831 Grecian inspired, reminding me of Gatsby’s mansion on Long Island.
Our path wanders right through poplar grove ending at little Roman Catholic church on edge of A285. Seat on west side to contemplate the tombs. Built 1866, C13 inspired. Walk left to road, crossing this with extreme care finding twitten past Downsview cottage with barking dog. Out into open meadows, bearing right towards Herringbroom cottages in the far distance. Heartsease among the grasses.
Cross the next field kinking left-right to footbridge over ditch. At the road, I walked left back to car park and was disappointed with having to walk on this busy road so I have taken you across the road into the wood and back across that lovely moor to that lovely Morris. (No you oaf, it has gone: you gave it away, don’t you remember?)