south downs way 9

Balancing coffee on my knee after an early start I boarded the Chichester to Midhurst bus soon after 8.0 am. Sunshine and the occasional shower was forecast and a chilly wind greeting me at Cocking for the 12 mile leg to Queen Elizabeth Country Park.  Soon away from the farm buildings I climbed up onto Cocking Down, Linch Down on open farmland with views north over Midhurst and south to The Solent and Isle of Wight. The path sides were full and buzzing; fields however were another matter. I was struck by the contract between fields with single grain crops and those grain fields with a 3-4m edge of wild flowers planted specifically to encourage corridors for wildlife. The former silent and the latter buzzing with bird and insect life.  Linchball, Winden, Venus Woods, were south of the path. I plunged from light to dark woodland into Philliswood Down ‘peopled’ with several beautiful old Beech Trees and Hazel passing signs to The Devil’s Jumps; the best example of a Bronze Age barrow formation in Sussex.  A drink stop before taking the short-cut over Beacon Hill (242m) before dropping into Harting Down.  South Harting marks the original end of the SDW, it was just over half way for me. Much of the walk between South Harting and Buriton was on roads and tracks with few views north and south but the hedgerows were glorious.  My lunch stop was on a grassy bank near Sunwood Farm. I strolled into Queen Elizabeth Country Park forest at tea time under a darkening sky.  12.5 miles in 4.5 hrs.  Only two more walks to Winchester.

© sue orton

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