RICHARD WILLIAMSON Country Walk...Woodland stroll will take you to twayblade orchid

Share this article

This walk of 2.5 miles (4kms) through downland woods is so that you will be able to see the woodland orchid called twayblade, now out in shady places.

Also a chance to hear the blackcap warblers, chiffchaffs and great spotted woodpeckers.

Park at the Duncton hill roadside car park SU955161.

Viewpoint plaques show Telegraph hill over eight miles away, Blackdown 919 feet, 8.75 miles, Loxhill, 645 feet, 14.5 miles.

Walk southwest on yellow arrow through the bushes, finding footpath steep downhill to right. The twayblades (two leaves) grow up out of the dog’s mercury carpet, each with a 12-inch (30cms) spire stem on which hang the small green flowers. Each of these flowers look like a tiny green man with arms and legs and wearing a green hat.

Note how the dog’s mercury leaves have been eaten by the dog’s mercury beetle. These beetles are tiny, dark blue, and jump like fleas.

At the bottom of the hill the path kinks to the right and near a horse chestnut tree there grows some wood mellick grass which is a most unusual and graceful, pale green grass with an umbel of fine seeds. Here you cross the spring that feeds Burton millpond. I often see here a grey wagtail. Turn left into Beechwood lane. Clipped yew hedge and box hedge.

Keep ahead on purple arrow at school gate, noting winter heliotrope to left.

On bank to right among trees you will see an RAF memorial to six male members of the Wallace family who were killed on active service in the 1940s.

Continue uphill, bearing right around a wall, noting the number of wild box bushes.

Then left on fingerpost to circle the gulley above the disused quarry.

Our bridleway crosses a footpath and emerges from the wood almost next to a Bronze Age cross dykes.

Follow the line of this bank joining the South Downs Way and turn left along it for 120m, before left on to the footpath.

We soon plunge back into the woodlands of Woolavington Down.

Here are many deer, and you will see the fraying stocks of roebucks, where they scrape trail-side bushes and paw the ground, scattering leaves and grass.

Follow this footpath to left of the chalk pits then continue on to the road above the car park.

On Duncton Hill, Sir Henry Royce used to test his new cars, to see whether they went down and then came back up again in the way he expected.

I do the same with the Alvis, and did so with the Morris, both of which coped with the gradient sufficiently well.

I hope you will cope with the slope on the walk on your pins as did I.