You might just see the two butterflies mentioned on this 3.6 mile (6kms) walk if you go now.
Park at Lord’s Piece, SU993169, between Duncton and Coldwaltham. Take the road, southeast, or the parallel path inside the nature reserve which meets up with the road. Hedges of blackthorn as the road continues on to the Bignor Park road to the left, should have brown hairstreaks in them.
Turn NE on the road which has verges protected for spring and summer flowers such as southern marsh and spotted orchids. This is usually a quiet road and a good place to see autumn migrants among the trees
and open fields.
But you must now cross the busy B2138 on to the bridleway going east to Watersfield Common. Halfway along this look for a footpath sign left, along the edge of the wood, into a sandy cutting where you will see both hard and male ferns.
Turn left on to the farm track, which will take you to a dangerous little bend on the Waltham Park Road that you have to cross. There is now a footpath diving into the oak and ash woods of Waltham Park. Honeysuckle climbing the trunks may still be in flower. This supports the caterpillars of another fairly rare butterfly – the white admiral.
Our path wanders NW through bracken and grass rides with spruce and oaks, comes out into a meadow where the hedges of holly and ivy should be supporting our
butterfly of the week – the holly blue.
You will come to the main road again at Tripp Hill. Cross this on to the Serpent Trail that now runs SW. This passes through ancient meadows and on to Coates Common woods.
Bird life here is very prolific, with 45 species in the breeding season.
Coates is also a well-known site for insects such as rove beetles, ichneumons, dung flies and even the lesser earwig. The trail crosses a minor tributary of the Rother in a sandy gully. There are lots more holly trees from which our butterflies here will have hatched in the spring.
Then we are in the golden triangle (as it is shown on the OS map) of Sutton Common and Lord’s Piece.
This is a nature reserve with spectacular views as you descend on whichever path you choose through the heather and ling of this sandy heathland.
The place is home to rare birds such as nightjar, woodlark, tree pipit and stonechat. The rare field cricket lives here in its sandy burrows. Quite often, when arriving here for a walk, I have come across other classic car owners who have arrived to enjoy a picnic and a short stroll in sight of their treasures.
A 1948 Morris Minor was here this time, fore-runner of the Traveller. On meeting the owner, the subject was distributors and dashpots rather than lesser earwigs and woodlice.