Walk 25: Amberley to Halnaker

Another gloriously sunny morning. Katharine Minchin chauffeured me to Amberley Station and within 100 yards I was once again in the middle of the most spectacular scenery, walking along the grassy embankment of the Arun. Lots of  little house sparrows fluttered up from the bushes along the path as I approached, bush hopping ahead of me – another Disney moment. I looked up and the sky had an “x” where two jet streams had crossed – batty I know but when I see these I imagine they’re kisses blown to me from lost loved ones – anyway, it gave me an extra boost so that my boots were now turbo charged for the ten mile walk ahead. I was soon in the village of Houghton and continued past The George & Dragon, which was festooned with a colourful array of hanging baskets.  After an uphill walk through some pretty woods, I emerged into a golden field of barley with the most fabulous long distance views of rolling hills and fields dotted with copses.  To the south I could see the English Channel populated with an armada of wind turbines, and to the north the distant ridge of the High Weald. The walk goes along part of the Monarch’s Way, a 615-mile long-distance walking trail that runs from Worcester to Shoreham-by-Sea.  It follows the escape route taken by Charles II after defeat by Cromwell in the final battle of the Civil Wars at Worcester in 1651, when for six weeks the 21-year-old was hotly pursued by Parliamentary troops.   The next mile or so took me through Houghton Forest and I stopped and chatted with a couple of walkers and a lost cyclist.  On reaching Bignor Hill, I sat for a while on a bench carved from a tree trunk, and gazed at the breathtaking view.  I continued along the ridge of the old Roman road – Stane Street – a 56-mile road built circa 70AD that connected London to Chichester. As I walked I pondered how many legions of Roman soldiers and others had trodden this path in the ensuing 1950 years.  Some quite tame sheep allowed me to get quite close and I think actually posed obligingly.  I took loads of photos but I don’t feel they did justice to the beauty of my surroundings. The great thing about this walk – as I’ve found with all of the walks so far – is there was a good balance of wide open spaces and woodland shade.There were long stretches on this walk where I could meditate and even do some chanting – which might have frightened a few animals.In the next woodland, I came upon some thick woody vines hanging from the tree canopy – I tugged on a couple and was only prevented from doing a Tarzan by the sound of approaching walkers…….. probably just as well. The trail took me along the edge of a vineyard, where I stopped and rested at a stile, then on past Halnaker Windmill which looked so pretty perched on the hill, and on to Halnaker.   I’d left my car in the car park of The Anglesey Arms and popped in to say thank you to Alan Collier, father of landlord, Christopher, and Lucy who were behind the bar.  One more walk to go…… This section of the trail was sponsored by Chris & Karen Thorne and dedicated to all Sussex hospice care providers. Chris’s mum, Reynie Thorne, spent her final days in St Wilfrid’s, Eastbourne in 2010 ‘where she was looked after with such amazing care and compassion’.