and occasionally rides a bike.
A word of warning. The walk descriptions are not detailed enough to guide you - please take a map. The batteries never run out, and you always have a signal. Oh, And don't take left or right as gospel!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Southwick and surrounding woods

About 6 miles.  2 hrs 15 mins. A couple of showers but nothing really wet. As I got home the sun came out. 

Lovely walk, with only likelihood of wandering off track right in the last half-mile or so.
Quite up and down. I parked by Southwick church and walked up to the water tower on the Glapthorn Road, but there's a fair sized lay-by at the top. Of course that puts the uphill road walk at the end. 

The track starts about 100 yards past the water tower, to the right. 
It runs through at least three fields of this crop - is it bamboo? Pandas next?

(I'm told this is a bio-fuel crop)

It was very windy up on the ridge, but the plants were some protection as they were taller than I am.

The hedges around had lots of blackberries.

For much of the way the path runs beside Short Wood Nature Reserve.

After about a mile or so the track comes to a metal gate leading into a large meadow, and today I was treated to the sight of these two little deer.

I was surprised when they came towards me at first, so I tried to get a shot - usual problem of the wrong lens for the job, and the splodges are raindrops! It was a joy to watch them leaping about. The wood behind the deer is part of Glapthorn Cow Pastures Nature Reserve, famous for nightingales in May, and black hairstreak butterflies in June.The cows were in the lower part of the field keeping themselves to themselves.

The track goes across to another gate, then right on a road leading to Provost Lodge.  I followed the path between the two big barns and through a gate then downhill.  According to my instructions it crosses a stream, but it looked as though there has been no water in the stream bed for some time. The path goes uphill to another gate, past a gap in the hedge.  At the gate I went slightly diagonally left towards yet another gate. Then turn left towards an old farm building - this part of the walk is alongside a ploughed field. There is a bit of grass along the edge, but it's a bit rough in places.
At the old building (Tottenhoe Lodge) turn right and carry on going north, with a hedge on your right until you reach a wooden footbridge almost on the road.

There's a bridge which you have to cross - it brings back memories of cycling over to Suffolk almost twenty years ago, as I remember stopping here for a rest, and Harry drawing Crossway Hand Farm on the hill.

I followed the concrete track towards the farm, turning left just before it, and then along the track towards Boars Head Farm. There is woodland immediately on the right, but no public access as it's a conservation area.  The track continues as a grassy path just past Boars Head Farm, going downhill and entering the wood, at its narrowest point.  There is a clear path to left and right. We go to the right along a gravel track signed with a horseshoe.  As I walked along here, I first heard, then saw a couple of jays - are they burying acorns already?
 I followed the route straight through, past three paths to the right.  The last one of these leads to Shire Hill Lodge, but the path becomes very narrow for a short distance before joining the track .
Soon there is a small plantation of fir trees on the left, and at the end  a footpath cuts across the track.  I turned right - it's clearly marked as a footpath, but not for horses.  The path turns left after another young pine wood.  When it joins a gravel track go straight on, not to the right.  A little later turn right and follow this path directly to Southwick.

(If you come out of the wood and spot the Water Tower on your right, a little behind you . . . retrace your steps. It should be pretty well straight ahead.)
Spot the statue?

You arrive at the church after crossing a footbridge over a stream and following a small lane to the footpath signs and two benches.

Thanks to 20 Best Local Walks, by Nicholas Rudd-Jones, for this route.
Map and details

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