Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Stage 3 - Boarshead to Eridge Old Park (3.8 miles)

Another quick Wednesday evening walk and once again the weather was very kind to us – lovely spring sunshine. Our walk commenced at Boarshead, on the old A26, which is now a dead end.

Waymark near the start at Boarshead
Setting off about 5.30pm, we took the concrete drive close to where the path crossed the A26, and swung south east past some nice houses and on towards Rocks Farm. The views to the north east were stunning and both Frant and the tower on Saxonbury Hill could be clearly seen.

View east towards and Saxonbury

At the farm the path here was diverted some years ago to go round, rather than between the buildings. It must be a very fine place to live. Skirting the field boundary we then bore right in a roughly easterly direction and passed close to the ski slope of Bowles Outdoor Center. There were quite a few people there on this fine evening, and their chatter carried to us on the breeze.

Looking NE after passing Bowles rocks

We descended gently along the left field boundary of a large field, and past a nice country home where two young people were playing tennis. Sheep and lambs grazed in an adjacent field. Zuka thought about disappearing off across the field after some heavenly scent, but (fairly) quickly responded to Anne’s pleas to return.

Bluebells in Roughets Wood
Dappled sunlight on the path adjacent to Roughets Wood
After about 500m we reached a lane and crossed to negotiate a stile onto a path adjacent to Roughets Wood. The wood was full on bluebells and so was a wonderful sight. We continued to descend with the wood on our right, on a slightly muddy path (with one much wetter bit). Reaching the bottom of the hill, and the end of the wood, we veered right across a farm bridge and across a stream and passed under the railway bridge. As we were passing, a commuter train went by overhead – I’m glad I was out walking, rather than being stuck on a train!

Train heading north to Eridge station
Unnamed stream in valley
We very briefly followed the stream, then headed uphill (I think you are meant to go round the edge of the field, but we cut the corner a bit) to a gap in the hedge, then veered right across the next field towards Stitch Farm.

View from near the top of field
Approaching Stitch Farm
Crossing a stile and a bridleway we walked up a track to the right of the buildings and skirted left round the back of them, turning right again at a field boundary to climb the hill. Initially the path was a little overgrown, but soon opened out.

Fields verdant with winter wheat
Some of the waymarking is past its prime!

Maintaining direction we reached the top of the rise (where the dogs spooked a lone goose), and soon reached a field boundary where we bore slightly right onto an enclosed path, which was VERY overgrown. Even this early in the season, the brambles and stinging nettles were bad – in a few more months it would have been pretty impassable (particularly in shorts!). I emerged unscathed from the ordeal, but Anne managed to pierce her scalp on a vicious barbed plant growing at head height.

Overgrown path
Bluebells in the hedge, approaching Stonewall
Bearing right again, we followed a field boundary (with a wonderful show of bluebells) to the road, where there was a fine converted oast house (Stonewall) and a newer property with a wonderful first floor balcony at the back, taking full advantage of the lovely views from the house’s elevated position.
Stonewall oast house
Grassy triangle at lane junction
 We turned right up the lane and then left at the first junction. We continued to climb, more gently now, and where the road levelled out there were lovely views to the north. We were delighted to see a group of three deer observing us from a few hundred meters away.
View approx west - If you look very carefully you may see the deer
Turning north(ish) off the lane
About a third of a mile from the road junction, we turned left on a grassy (slightly muddy) track and began to descend again. The path forked at a narrow strip of wood and we took the open path on the left, believing it to be the official route. I think it was probably the wrong decision, if only because the wood was awash with bluebells and lovely old rotten tree trunks (we diverted back into the wood at its end to take a peek).

Old rotting trees in delightful bluebell wood
At the main wood boundary we bore right and continued to descend gently. There had been a lot of tree clearance work done here recently, and the path was covered with debris and a little difficult to navigate
Descending west through Spring Wood (looking a bit bare)
Crossing the stream just after entering the deer park
After approximately a third of a mile, we turned right across a particularly wet piece of ground and through a gate in a tall metal fence. We were now in Eridge deer park. Almost immediately, Anne spotted a large herd of fallow deer looking down on us from the ridge high up on our left. The dogs did not see them, but after the herd ran off, they could certainly smell them. Poppy particularly was very excited, and even Zuka was put on the lead.
Rare photo of Zuka on the lead!
The path meanders through thin woodland
The path meandered gently uphill through very light woodland with Rocks Wood and Saxonbury Wood to our right. Along this section were some very fine and very large ancient trees (mainly beech) – they were quite magnificent.

Wonderful old trees
Crossing a boggy bit of ground, we emerged into more open parkland, initially with the wood still on our right. At the corner of the wood we maintained direction uphill with the deer fence some distance to our right towards the traffic noise on the A267.

The dogs alert for deer as we begin the last climb

Poppy enjoys a good roll in the grass!
As the incline levelled off, the views behind us were lovely, and it was an excuse to stop and catch one’s breath after the climb.

Looking back whilst taking a breather

Looking west towards the sinking sun
After a slightly hairy crossing of the main road (we had emerged onto a virtually non-existent verge), we turned right and walked the few hundred meters back to our car in a layby.

Nearing the end of our walk through Eridge Park
Although I had already walked the whole of this section at one time or another, it was lovely to do it again. The terrain is undulating and varied and there are plenty of good views to enjoy. Another good supper at the Boars Head Inn wasn’t bad either. Great stuff!

Boars Head Inn

No comments:

Post a Comment