|Dial Post Cottage|
Eventually we came to Bentons Place Farm, a very well appointed looking place that seemed to be hosting some kind of function. Looking at how well manicured some of the buildings were here I also imagined that some are holiday lets or weekend retreats. Some rather well dressed looking people said hello to us as we passed. Further along the track we missed the turning that we should have taken and ended up on the road just beyond. When we retraced our steps it was not surprising we missed it for the turning was quite overgrown.
We crossed a small stream via a ramshackle looking old footbridge and came out on to a bridle path beyond that had all the appearances of a road that had never quite managed to make it to the tarmac era. The packed lunch that we had brought on our walk was already calling to the children at this point and so we found a suitable spot to eat it. Fortunately it was not quite wasp and fly season and so we managed to eat without being bothered too much by flying insects.
|View From Tree Platform|
A little further on and the path changed nature, becoming narrower and I suspect quite muddy during the winter judging by the ruts in the dry track. As we rounded the next corner we came upon a small group of deer browsing in the hedgerow. They didn’t stick around long when they saw us! Down one side of the path was a very large deer fence – they are obviously not welcome in the surrounding agricultural land.
After passing the windmill we continued along the road through the village. It is a very attractive village and has not been subjected to much in the way of new development unlike some of its neighbouring places. The gardens were well tended and there were quite a few people around looking after them. We passed by almost unnoticed and out into a neighbouring field where we found some friendly horses seeking some attention from the girls. Luckily they weren’t as insistent as the one we met the other week near Warninglid!
We passed through a small wood and crossed another road to enter the parkland of Knepp Castle. The present day Knepp Castle is a rebuild of a castle built in 1812 but which burned down in 1904. An earlier mediaeval castle ruin also exists at the other end of the estate but all that is left is a fragment of wall. We did not pass that castle on this walk. The modern day Knepp Castle is at the centre of an interesting estate for the parkland is not managed in the same way as many other country houses of this ilk. The owners have tried to revert much of the estate back to grassland using natural methods after much of it was converted to arable farming due to World War II. Our first impressions though were of a traditional parkland with large trees dotted across a landscape where you expect to see groups of browsing deer.
The path passes the castle at some distance away and out past a rather lovely looking lodge house. We wandered down to Kneppmill Pond, a surprisingly large body of water. Inevitably this was once a hammer pond for the Wealden Iron Age industry. Now it is a calm oasis with plenty of wildflowers around the edge. The water looked quite appealing with reflections of the big puffy clouds overhead.
On the other side of the Adur we then crossed a rather overgrown field where we finally saw a large herd of deer. We had been expecting to see one all this time without previous success. The group here though were quite relaxed – safety in numbers I guess? It was out onto the road and a short stretch of road walking before the last stretch back to Dial Post.