RICHARD WILLIAMSON Country Walk...Durford Heath

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This Sussex Border Path walk takes you 3.1 miles (5.1kms) through forest and heath, farm and goyle past Rogate Common.

Park in National Trust car park at SU791259 in a dip on south side of Rogate to Liss road just east of Clayton Court. The entrance is easily missed.

Blue arrow onto SBP south-west into a deep sandy gully with Scots pines and Norway spruces later with young beeches too.

If you have good hearing you should be able to hear goldcrests and firecrests singing high up in the crowns, but the song is like a fairy whispering.

The sessile oak forest on parts of Durford Heath are an extension of Rake Hanger, visited last month.

This is a rare habitat in southern England and is based on sandy acid ground.

Until recently pied flycatchers and redstarts bred in holes in these oaks, but have faded out now. These two normally breed in Welsh and Devon oak woods.

Spring flowers include bluebell, stitchwort, wood anemone, red campion, common dog violet, sweet violet and St John’s Wort.

I counted 15 species of woodland birds singing including nuthatch, green woodpecker, blackcap warbler and chiffchaff, but there will be many more than that.

As you leave the woodland with the thuja plantation, a magnificent view south of the South Downs presents itself.

On the right is Butser, on the left right along to Didling.

The Iron Age fort on Torberry Hill is just right of due south, two-and-a-half miles away.

A short-cut left on yellow arrow, but I prefer to march on to the next turning left into a goyle as we leave the SBP. The sandstone is much redder.

Polypody ferns grow along the edges. Badgers have carved out setts. Robins, woodpeckers and stock doves nest in the trees of hazel and oak.

This old sunken way ends at a pumping station, where we turn left, climbing through farmland to Tipsall Bottom woods.

These have been planted up with thujas and tsugas, cypresses and Scots pines.

The clearing in the wood is for Canada Cottage and the track continues onwards north-west past some fine old silver birches, back to the car park and an Alvis shooting brake which still makes people say: “Oh, I used to have one of them...Morris Minor...but it’s not quite like the one I used to have. But all that wood. Lovely and so natural.”