RICHARD WILLIAMSON Country Walk...Up Marden

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Start this walk of 2.5 miles (4kms) through lush countryside at the tiny hidden church St Michael at Up Marden.

Limited parking next to a gently crumbling ancient beamed barn SU795142 minor road north of Stoughton. Nikolaus Pevsner in his monumental work The Buildings of England in 1956 declared the church to have one of the loveliest interiors in England. The link to generations of gentle worship was for him as organic as the very Downs themselves. A clean, bright, acerbic time warp to the 13th century – truly astonishing time travel, with its untouched mediaeval wall paintings and original lancet windows uncluttered by any Victorian sentiment.

You should be brought up with a jolt to the modern grave outside where rests Capt Herbert Richard Westmacott of the Grenadier Guards and SAS posthumously awarded the Military Cross. The grave attracts visitors from across the world who pay homage and lay their wreaths.

Look also for the tablet to Sussex archaeologist Alec Down. Southeast past group of 150 year old yews across barley field to hole in hedge opposite 1870 cottage with tablet “Trust in God and keep your powder dry”.

Cross the road to high stile southeast over meadow where grows the purple seeding grass called Yorkshire fog, oxeyes and lesser stitchwort.

There are also meadow brown butterflies. Another high stile into Blinkard Copse of hazels and bluebells in spring. Note deep pit on right. Stone quarry or source of loam dressing?

Downwards with tall beeches, up again and southward across wheat field. Left on blue arrow at house then view right to Isle of Wight. Did you spot the massive bird cherry on left?

More lovely wheat fields and rue of oaks and ashes.

Left on yellow at Inholmes wood and on north and down to the road where turn left and note all the dewberries growing along left verge.

After 500 yards on road, and at its right bend, turn left on yellow arrow into dense oak, ash, hazel, field maple Stripeshill Copse where bluebells, buttercups, cranesbills, herb bennets and garlic plants. Thirty five species of birds too.

Halfway up the slope, and where it gets steep, by a telegraph pole, turn left at track crossways. This will make you puff but at the top is a fine hedge to follow along the edge of the barley field. It has at least 12 shrub species so is about a millennium old.

Those I counted were oak, ash, hazel, hawthorn, spindle, blackthorn, dogwood, field maple, bramble, ivy, elder, holly and rose. View right to Telegraph House.

Now left onto road and right back to St Michael hoping to see somebody who has an old Morris, no luck this time.