RICHARD WILLIAMSON Country Walk...Bignor Hill

This roof of the world walk of 4.3kms (2.6 miles) includes skylarks singing high above in spring as well as hopefully, peewits tumbling on their nuptials.

You will see wonderful views anyway.

Find National Trust car park SU974129 after steep climb up from Bignor village on road through ash/yew woodland. The hilltop is almost the hub of the western South Downs, where Monarch’s Way meets South Downs Way among other crossing paths.

Take blue arrow south out of car park with scrub woodland to your right and after 250m turn left, south-east, onto Monarch’s Way.

In the field to your left are tumuli from the Bronze Age and the circle showing an earlier Neolithic camp, 4,000 years old. King Charles passed these at night in 1651 so probably did not notice them. His mind was after all on Cromwell.

Along this ancient flint road you will pass a male and female yew holding branches. The male has pollen and tiny yellow cones shed beneath. The female will have empty shells of last year’s pips.

You may see two ancient boundary stones along this route and there is another Bronze Age tumulus in Barkhale wood to the left.

A mile from the car park turn left on the first blue bridleway arrow you see.

Path descends through old hazel coppice, after 400m, coming out, path soon bending right to cross through a curious little linear plantation of pines and berberis made I imagine in the 1930s to hold pheasants before flushing them out to be shot as high birds to guns waiting below.

Follow path north-east downhill through bridlegates, noting some very good chalk grassland with cowslips, hairy violets, birdsfoot trefoil and milkwort in late spring. Only a few fragments mind. Also ancient hazel coppice.

At bottom and five crossway note scrub of ivy, elder, ash, spindle, hawthorn, clematis where I saw marsh tits and green woodpeckers.

Keep sharp left onto South Downs Way which climbs back up through the scrub, south-west.

You are now a mile from the car park and the best is yet to come with views south to the green mountain of Amberley Mount and the Arun Valley.

You will also pass the recently repaired Toby’s Stone which was damaged by animal rights activists.

This was a horse mounting step and has the inscription “Here He Lies Where He Longed To Be”.

You are now at about 730 feet above sea level, 250m.

A gentle stroll downhill back to the old Alvis which with its wooden bodywork will forever be thought to be a Morris Traveller.

Bit bigger, different badge, separate headlamps.

I suppose you could say skylarks are like sparrows.