Another beautiful sunny morning awaited me on my next foray on the Sussex Border Path. Today I headed for a piece of
It was pretty early when I began my walk and for a change I decided to get the non Border Path section completed first. I wandered up the deserted main street (well, who else would be silly enough to get up as early as me?) and past the distinctive church with its green copper roof. The flower baskets were in full bloom all along the main street, which made the village look fantastic on this mid summer day. I was rather amused to see that outside of the church was a set of stocks, a mediaeval way of dealing with miscreants. I wonder if they are still used?
Just beyond the church and I was pleased that it was early morning for I had to walk along a busy stretch of road that had no pavement. I was pleased that I could do this bit before the traffic really got going for the day. Just after this little bottleneck I headed off the road to begin the slow climb up onto the
I began the plod up through the trees to the top of the Downs, expecting the sort of climb that I am used to closer to
The path onwards was a section of the
At Sunwood Farm the path became a road as the
After a bit longer along the
At the far end of the wood I came out into a field with a stunning view across the Downs towards
Even better was to follow at the school when I passed by a corner that I took to be the nature area. Reaching out over the fence was a large buddleia bush and it was populated by some very large and colourful butterflies. In the few minutes I stood and watched I saw Painted Ladies, Red Admirals and Small Tortoiseshells to name just a few. I was mesmerised! The school itself, a little further on, is obviously a country pile bought for the purpose. Apparently during World War II the old place served as a convalescent home for injured servicemen when it was requisitioned by the Ministry of Defence.
As I headed obviously downhill towards the valley that I walked along in the previous leg of this route, I came upon the first ripe blackberries of the year – quite something for late July! Across the fields I could just make out another historic building – the old windmill high above the hill at Chalton. This is now a residence, having been saved from possible demolition by the local authority giving it listed status and a person having the foresight to turn it into an attractive home.
All the way down the slope into the valley of the railway (not sure if it has a name!) the sides of the path were buzzing with all manner of insects with hoverflies particularly numerous but also ladybirds, bees and many other species of butterfly, not all of which wanted to play ball with me on the picture taking front. However, I did get lots of practice all the way! Eventually I reached the bottom of the slope at Woodcroft Farm, where there was lots of activity from people getting ready to go out horse riding for the day. Having already been out for a couple of hours I really felt like I had a head start on them!
I crossed the railway via one of the old 1930s concrete footbridges that were provided by Southern Railway. I thought it a little out of place, being more in keeping with a station. However, I did notice a redundant platform by the side of the line, which I found rather odd. When I later looked this up, I discovered that it had been the halt provided for convalescing troops being treated at
It was to Chalton that I headed next. This small village is a little gem, tucked away on the edge of East Hampshire. The Red Lion, a pub in the middle of the village is delightful and had a super set of hanging baskets on show. The church was strangely quiet for a Sunday morning, although I suspect I might have been too late for the morning service.
Having had a quick look at the village I retraced my steps back to Woodcroft Farm. I was now on the walk of my objective! I now followed the Sussex Border Path back from here to the top of Harting Down. Unlike the outward part of the walk, this section was almost exclusively woodland. This presented me with reward and annoyance. Reward in the number of butterflies that I saw and annoyance when I managed to take a couple of wrong turns on the way!
I did have a very magical moment through this section of the walk when I spotted a peacock butterfly recently emerged from its chrysalis and drying its wings while sitting on a blade of grass. Initially the wings were kept firmly shut and I almost dismissed it as another of its dowdy brown cousins such as I had seen earlier. I kept with it though, just in case it showed me something else. Then flash! When it opened its wings it provided the most dazzling and vibrant show of colour I have ever seen on a butterfly. It’s not a word I like or use very often but it was simply awesome!
A little further on from this wonderful sight and I found a hangout for a number of other types of butterfly especially red admirals with their vibrant black and red colours. These are my personal favourites, so it was fantastic to see so many fluttering around me! This encounter was the result of another wrong turn and correction, so I was glad that it happened this time!
I eventually emerged from the wood at Foxcombe Farm having picked my way down an unusually muddy and steep hill. The Farm boasted a huge farmhouse and its setting out in the rolling
Eventually I reached the main road and I decided that the walk back along it to South Harting, although tempting in terms of short cut, was just too unpleasant to think about and so I crossed to walk around the base of Torberry Hill, the site of an Iron Age Hill Fort. The atmosphere of the hill fort was rather ruined by a scrambling competition that was going on at the time. Bike after bike buzzed past me with their annoying raspy sounding engines. I was glad eventually to get out of earshot at the north end of the hill, but I just swapped the annoyance of the trial bikes for more road walking.Fortunately it did not last too long and it was also mercifully much quieter than the
This was a hugely enjoyable circular walk around a part of the