I wanted to walk somewhere different this week so decided to do a there and back walk from Charlton To Midhurst using the New Lipchis Way. This is a series of paths and bridleways that go from Liphook to West Wittering. When I left home it was raining slightly and as I drove over the hill at Goodwood the visibility was less than 100 yards.
I started the walk by going over Levin Down and I could see the tops of the hills that I was heading for were hidden in low cloud. After leaving the Sussex Wildlife Trust reserve it was a steady one and a half mile walk up to the South Downs Way through mixed woodland. Before you get to the woods you pass through a place called Burntoak Gate, I’d love to know where the name came from.
When I was in the woods I stopped for a while and listened to the birds. I heard Chiffchaff, Dunnock, Blackbird, and Song Thrush. As I walked further on I heard my first Cuckoo of the year.
When I got to the South Downs Way the visibility wasn’t very good because of the low cloud. I had to walk across this field to get the path going down into Heyshott.
The first part of the path is wooded so I sat on the ground and had a bite to eat and noticed that the only birdsong was a Robin. I found that strange after all the birds I’d heard earlier. The path is very steep, an average of 13% as I learnt later from my map software. It was also very slippery on the wet chalk and was glad I had my walking pole to steady myself.
I turned around as I got near the bottom of the path and I could see just how low the cloud was.
I walked across the field with the oak tree in the middle and noticed how big the sky was even though it was a big grey sky. In the distance I could see St James Church in Heyshott. I’ve visited it before when I did a sponsored ride for Sussex Historic Churches Trust. One way they raise money is via an event which is called Ride and Stride. You can be sponsored to ride a bike or horse or by walking. The money is then given as grants to churches for repairs or restoration.
I left the church and walked through the village and found the footpath across the fields that would take me to the heathland which would make up the next part of the walk. As I crossed the field I turned round to see the hills in the distance.
I have never walked on heathland before and found it really nice to walk on compared to the slippery chalk and flint I’d been walking on all morning.
Some of the plants in here are different to the downland, there were mosses I’d never seen before, which the local slugs obviously liked. The trees were covered in mosses and lichens and they’re growth seemed to be stunted. I guess that’s down to the lack of nutrients in the sandy soil. The bracken was starting to unfurl. After reading my tweet @sophiEcoWild said I should visit Iping and Stedham commons in the summer to see the wildlife.
As I walked through the woods I came across a bridge. I looked on my OS map and found it was a bridge over a disused railway. I found out later that it was a line that ran from Midhurst to Pulborough. I wonder if you can walk along it now? I saw two blackcaps on gorse bushes along the path after I’d crossed the bridge.
As I was getting to the end of the section through the woods I could see this field of oilseed rape through the trees, it seemed to glow as I stood in the darkness of the trees.
I came out of the woods and walked along a lane for a few yards then the Lipchis Way goes through a farm and eventually alongside the River Rother with views over to ruins of Cowdrey House, a Tudor house partially destroyed by fire in 1793. I’d only ever seen it from the road before and was surprised how much of it remains.
I crossed the bridge and walked alongside the cricket and polo pitches and went to Cowdrey Farm Shop for a cup of coffee and to meet the aforementioned Sophie, who I follow on Twitter and her blogs.
I walked back the same way as I came but the weather had improved a lot since early morning. I could see the Downs when I came out of the heath at Heyshott Green.
As I climbed back up to the South Downs Way I looked back and this time I could see for miles compared to hardly any visibility earlier. This is the steepest hill I have ever walked up so I was quite happy to stop and look at the views as I got higher.
Part way up the hill was this tree with all its a lot of its roots showing. It looked like it could walk away like a spider.
After going through Burntoak Gate again I took this photo of the 5 way signpost. I couldn’t see the writing on it in the gloom earlier on.
Anyone who watches BBC Countryfile on regularly will know about the three Exmoor ponies that Sussex Wildlife Trust acquired from Adam Henson. They are there to graze some of the tougher plants like blackthorn and hawthorn.
Now it was a matter of walking over Levin Down again, passing some herdwick sheep on the way, and back to the car.
I had walked 15.4 miles in eight hours. I know that’s probably slow for some hikers but I enjoyed a nice gentle stroll enjoying the sights and sounds.