RICHARD WILLIAMSON: Fairmile Bottom and Rewell Wood

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I have explored another part of Rewell Wood this week with a woodland walk of 3.6 miles (6kms).

I enjoyed several blackberries on the way with the rare treat of a couple of punnets of dewberries collected from the overgrown slopes of Fairmile Bottom where I parked (SU983091)

South, straight up the slope, brought me into that typical downland assemblage of older yew trees and their offspring which gather on every hillside in Sussex like the origin of all arboreal species.

They soon give way to modern organisation: crops of sweet chestnuts which know their place in the world and grow in formal servitude.

At the track crossways I turned sharp right back into the trees, west-south-west on blue arrow passing a half-dead ash tree used by a tawny owl for a nest site. I could also see all the white stalks of old bluebells which will come again in the spring.

There are some massive beech trees on the old estate bank to the right, one had shed a bough. The path bends south-south-west when you will come upon a vast system of Bronze Age earthworks either side of the bridleway. There seem to have been both ramparts and compounds, some with triple ditches and banks which seems excessive.

Even more spectacular is the ravine below a small cliff to the right that resembles the edge of a quarry but also part of the ancient earthwork. What on earth went on here 3,000 years ago?

The hills and hollows conjoin at West Stubbs Copse, today a bikers’ meeting place. I turned sharp left at this maze of gullies, passing a girder gate southeast into the Forestry Commission ride through Rough Copse to Goblestubbs Copse and on to the A27. Buddleia in season along this ride attracts lots of butterflies and last week I saw painted ladies, commas, small tortoiseshells and brimstones.

You can walk on the field parallel to A27 to reach the footpath up Long Lane, north through the wheat and oat fields to the bridleway that runs back northwest into Rewell Wood.

At the moment the large cleared area of woodland you will pass, after passing Rewell House, has lots of migrants going through.I counted whitethroats, lesser whitethroats and a hobby falcon hunting dragonflies.

You come back to the crossways eventually, near the old yews on the slope down back through Fairmile.

My old car had attracted the attention of a driver who left a note saying he had once owned one and wished he could relive that happy experience.

Make me an offer. Don’t forget the dewberries by the way. They’re as good as grapes.