HERE is a 3.8-mile (6kms) walk through the woods and fields which Sussex poet Hilaire Belloc said could ‘Lift up your hearts’.
It is old woodland, fields, downs and byways where writer John Galsworthy rode his horse, and WWI poet Rupert Brooke was inspired to write his most famous line: ‘There is some corner of a foreign field that is forever England’.
Charles II slipped quietly past in the night too, on nearby Monarch’s Way.
Now it’s our turn. But please do keep your dog under tight control due to the pheasants.
There is possible roadside parking along the end of the minor road through Madehurst village which runs north from the A29, at SU976116.
There would also be better parking at Bignor Hill as shown on map, but that would mean an extra 2kms added on.
Starting at the first place, continue down the track for 300 yards into Stammers valley, then turn left on to bridleway crossways. This takes you into Great Bottom.
As you climb out on the far side you will be walking over five Bronze Age field boundaries which are, as always, roughly 50 yards apart.
All over Sussex, in ancient woodland that has not been levelled out by agriculture in the past millennium, you will find these regular banks which were built 2,500 years ago.
Bridleway goes left-right-left on a dog leg and crosses a field. There is a view of Glatting Beacon to the north. You are now in Gumber Wood, which is open access. Turn right on blue arrow.
The path wanders about, but keep left at two junctions in the wood.
On coming out of the wood on to the open downs, take the right fork along the edge of the rue, and stay on the bridleway down to Gumber Farm.
The NT property has the Belloc quote on a green plaque.
Turn left now, southward, down the main track with an avenue of beech trees.
At Warren Barn crossway, take the left, yellow, footpath arrow into the woods.
Coming out of the wood, take the footpath sharp left to return north with a wood to your left and fields to your right.
Best part of a mile later will bring you back to that dog leg where you now turn right into Great Bottom and so back to the old motor.
This landscape is all so redolent of people past and history here that you almost expect to see those folk plodding about in the muddy woods or working the fields again.
Yet another poet who knew the place was Edward Thomas
who walked the ‘South Country’ as he called it and probably wrote the best prose of all about this activity of walking the byways and downs of Sussex and Hampshire.