|Route out (northern branch) and back (southern branch)|
|Cuckoo flowers on the verge|
|Looking across flowering rape fields to the barns of Ridge Farm|
|The winding concrete drive made for very easy walking|
|Bury St Austen's farmhouse|
|The barn opposite The Lodge|
|Hermongers - early 19th C grade II listed|
|Bluebell time - although not yet at their best|
|Crossing a large rape field after emerging from Street Copse|
|On the path leading to Rudgwick|
|Holy Trinity Church, Rudgwick|
|View NW from Little Hawks Hill|
|Flooded clay pit just visible through the trees|
Hugging the field boundary I soon glimpsed water through the hedgerow to my left. A glance at the map revealed this to be a flooded clay pit working. Then a gentle descent took me to South Wood, where I met up with the Downs Link path, sharing its route for just 200m. The Downs Link is a 36.7mile footpath and bridleway linking the North Downs Way at St. Martha's Hill in Surrey with the South Downs Way near Steyning in West Sussex and on via the Coastal Link to Shoreham-by-Sea.
|Heading for South Wood|
|Meeting the Downs Link path|
|On the Downs Link path|
|Oops, here come the cows!|
|After Jazz saw them off, the cows run off to join their mates|
|The path between deer fences|
|Dipping down to cross a stream|
|On Cook's Hill Lane - the end of our short trip along the SBP today|
- Along Cook’s Hill Lane, I suddenly spotted a solitary deer staring at me from the wood. The dogs didn’t see or smell it, and it didn’t move a muscle as I photographed it – it almost looked stuffed! I’ll have to check out if it’s still there when I return to do the next stage!
|Is it real?|
- On the farm drive to Woodsomes Farm I met two groups of dairy cattle returning to their field after milking. Fortunately, on the first occasion I was able to get the dogs into an adjacent field through a gateway to allow the cows past, and on the second, by increasing our pace, we managed to reach the turn off onto the bridleway just before the cows reached us.
|The cows returning to their field after milking|
- From a short road section along Lynwick Street I crossed back over the Downs Link path at ap point which clearly shows it to be an old railway line.
|Looking down on the Downs Link path|
- After crossing a valley I passed through Rudgwick again. I had hoped to buy a snack somewhere, but it would appear from the map that the bulk of the village (and presumably the shops) are further to the south. I should have popped into Kings Head for a packet of crisps.
|Back at Rudgwick village|
- Once across the next valley, the path continued through delightful woodland for about 1.5m. Towards the end, the sun finally made an appearance through the clouds.
|Timber stacked between tree trunks, near Hyes Farm|
- On the final mile or so, the path swung north. We crossed a large arable field of winter wheat, where the path was not visible on the ground. Fortunately the crop was dry and the GPS ensured we maintained the correct direction.
|Jazz attempts to climb a stile (in the end she squeezed under the fence on the right)|
- Despite having thought to myself earlier that the whole walk had been superbly waymarked, I managed to go a little astray right near the end, just after Old Ockley house, where I must have missed a sign directing me into a wood, and I wandered round in circles for five minutes or so trying to find the correct path. Again, the GPS usually gets me out of trouble on these occasions, as it did here. If you look at the map of the route at the top of this post, you will see on the tracklog where I circled round trying to find the correct path.
|Back on track - looking back down the path I should have been on!|
- I rejoined the outward route at Ridge Farm and returned to my car in lovely evening sunshine, to complete a lovely walk.
|The rape glows brightly in a shaft of evening sunshine|
- On the journey home, I stopped in Warnham village to photograph the church where I got married nearly 32 years ago (I was a child bride!).