RICHARD WILLIAMSON: Country walk: Bedham to Pallingham Bridge

The wooded hills and young River Arun valley made this 4.7 mile (7.7kms) one of the most beautiful I can remember last week.

Mind you, the bluebells were at their best with deep blue pools of colour throughout all the woodland. I parked at a sharp bend in the minor road that leads south to Bedham off the A272 between Petworth and Wisborough Green at TQ013221, then followed that road as it climbed and dropped down to Bedham Farm. Tall beech trees, oaks, and a holly towered either side.

Wood sanicle flowers were just starting to open along the verge. This woodland flower is in the carrot family and the name derives from the latin sanus meaning healing. Yellow pimpernel formed roadside clumps. The land drops far below into an abyss, and so have some of the trees on these sandy hills. There is also a ruined chapel down below.

A finger post directed me to the right, uphill, and into a field of rape, with a view ahead of the south downs. This led into warren barn copse over a stile and into quite one of the finest bluebell lakes I have seen.

Taking a left yellow through the chestnut coppice I crossed the Fittleworth road by a posting box, and on through meadows, past Spring Farm and over a stile to a crossways at the corner of another Bluebell wood. I carried straight ahead, through a gate.

At the next junction I turned left on a blue arrow down a stony lane. A blue and white cottage had a wild garden of Primroses in its orchard. Goldfinches sang. Near the bottom of the hill I branched right on a finger post and after 40 yards right again on a yellow arrow over another stile. I followed the woodland edge along this cereal field with a view ahead of Toat Monument.

This brought me to Pallingham Quay house which I kept to my right, coming to the two ancient bridges over the Arun and the Weysouth canal. Then I headed back west along the vehicle track through Quay Copse with its early purple orchids and graceful wood melick grass. Above to the left was Mockbeggars House. I came to the road, turned right and after 400 yards left on a yellow arrow near Westland Cottage. This footpath took me through Arundel Holt Wood into The Mens and the Cut nature reserve, a Sussex Wildlife Trust woodland. I tarried awhile with my lunch box at a log seat under the power cables, then kept ahead, followed footpath instructions around a black barn, crossed a meadow, then into the woods and down to a causeway over a stream.

Then I came to the badlands meadows, which are not bad at all but full of spring flowers such as cowslips, cuckoo flower, and primrose. Crossing these brought me to the gate and a crossways, where I turned left on yellow arrow, under some of the tallest oaks and beech I have seen. This footpath eventually joined a bridlepath going west on a blue arrow, and this eventually led back to the Bedham road. This was St. George’s Day, and the walk fitted the day perfectly.