RICHARD WILLIAMSON: Country walk: Ebernoe to Mercers Furze

You will need strong boots anywhere in the weald in this weather, especially on this walk as one of the paths might become a small river.

But it is fun to splash about in wellies on your day off. Distance 2.5 miles (4kms).

The name Ebernoe does after all derive from the Old English ‘Island with yew trees’.

There is very limited parking roadside at the angle of the road which leads from the A283 eastward to Ebernoe at SU970274.

Walk north up this minor road alongside Swedes Copse for 400 yards to the next corner, where you will find a metal gate to the left leading on to the footpath running west over the fields.

So far so good, with the view of Blackdown three miles to the north-west, and the ground fairly firm.

Then after 500 yards you will enter part of the Ebernoe Common woodland at a crossways. Turn right on to the bridleway going north.

This is a rich habitat for woodland birds. Almost every year during the past half century I have heard cuckoos calling here, while woodpeckers, nuthatches and a wide range of other woodland birds are usually singing their heads off

in spring.

I even recorded the willow tit here many years ago but that bird is rapidly vanishing from the Sussex scene due to destruction of the shrub layer by deer and lack of management in old coppice woods.

But keep your eyes peeled for its close cousin, the marsh tit.

These woods are also rich in insect life, with several species of dragonflies in summer such as the banded and also the beautiful demoiselles.

You cross a small stream which has originated from the foot of Blackdown.

Here that unusual and curiously elegant grass, wood mellick, grows.

At the road, turn right on a footpath sign to travel east.

There is an aspen plantation along here. Firecrests singing in the firs overhead, you might notice.

At Mercers Furze, turn right after crossing a valley and stream at footpath

sign and follow the footpath south along the edge of the wood.

After 350 yards, the footpath turns east over the field.

You will come to a stile that leads you down to cross the Blackdown stream again.

Take the first right through the woods again near Ebernoe House and grounds.

Part of this is along an old medieval shaw or safeway through difficult woods.

Today there is a holly avenue where I have oftentimes seen the holly blue butterfly in early May and again, of course, in August when the second brood emerges from having been raised as caterpillars on holly flowers.

You will now have to cross by a cricket pitch back to the road. In summer the cricketers may be playing.

Part of the pitch seems to include the road. How very English, though they also do this in Pakistan.

The road leads back past Swedes Copse. They wouldn’t.