RICHARD WILLIAMSON: Walk, Kirdford’s woods and fields

THIS walk of 4.4 miles (7kms) is not for the faint-hearted, what with 12 stiles, bulls in fields, floods in woods and curious cats. But I enjoyed it last week.

I parked my old Alvis in small layby on the A272 at Strood Green TQ026247 then walked north towards Kirdford from the sharp corner; an old rue with rosehips and sloes, blackberries and hazelnuts.

Left at Linfold barn, and a stile into meadows with horses, and dogs to be on leads. There follows a quick succession of another four stiles, followed by a long oak hedge with seedling trees in the long grass before you come to the road again.

Turn left under the power cables and down to Linfold bridge over the River Kird. .

Then a fingerpost points left up the bank and footpath follows the road for a bit before turning you left over another stile. A manicured lake on your left has been visited by Canada geese by the look of feathers in the grass. A small footbridge with a clump of soft rush and then you bear a little left of west across the meadow to Churchland copse. Cross the track and just before the cattlegrid, bear right into the copse over another stile.

There is a 60ft-high crab apple tree to pass before coming to copse end, where turn left into a farmyard and turn right on fingerpost. Turn left then right over two more stiles, past a turkey tree-hut and find yourself coming into the graveyard of John the Baptist.

I sat on the seat by the wall for lunch next to the four white gravestones of one sad little family of girls and their mother, while three roe does grazed behind me only 80 yards away in the meadow.

The church is splendid, with almost unadulterated 1,000-year-old stones and pillars, buttresses and a 1620 font. Opposite church is the lovely Half Moon Inn sign. Turn left down the street using the left, high walkway. Right at Field Cottages, and a sign saying beware of cats trying to follow you.

A eucalyptus hedge, goats, guineafowls and horses and finally Beware of the Bull sign. Over another stile by cottage, turn right down the track which bends left and down to a stream. Next left and south to Gandersgate lane which runs east, so turn left. This is a very pleasant wooded rue and also another shaw, an ancient drained way through sodden countryside.

Turn right on reaching the road and stay on it for 750 yards when coming to a very rare Edward VII letterbox at road junction, turn left for Billingshurst and Wisborough Green.

Road descends past a bank rich in wild flowers, then bridleway left into Crouchmans Copse. Finally you will reach the A272 where turn left, keeping clear of its racing traffic for the 300 yards back to the old car, or young car perhaps.