This walk will take us to Nore Folly, but first we need to have a start point. Much smaller than Slindon, is the village of Eartham, nestled in the Downs of West Sussex, in the UK.
My last walk article from Slindon Village, had glimpses of Nore Folly, so now to do a walk there itself.
You can park on the road near to the village pub, The George. This is a traditional pub, serving great food and superb beers! A good place to quench a thirst after the walk. If you are thinking of eating, I would call ahead first as the pub can be very busy, especially at weekends or if there are events on at the near-by Goodwood estate – think Glorious Goodwood, Festival of Speed etc.
The walk is dog friendly (I’m always accompanied by my Border Collie, Barney) and thanks to the South Downs National Park’s “Miles without Styles” initiative, free of styles and other barriers to access for less mobile folks. This walks is ca 5 miles
Before starting the walk, it’s worth q quick walk into the village; take the right fork at the “Great Ballard School”, just to see what the quintessential West Sussex village looks like – flint stone walls and red tiled roofs.
Then walk back past the entrance of the school. Originally built in the 1740’s for Thomas Hayley it became a school in 1924. Walk down the hill and as the road bends sharply to the right, keep straight ahead on to the track and walk down past the rather fetching Victorian pumping station again built in the traditional style of Sussex – flint walls and red tile roofed. Much more appealing than the usual “Communist Chic” of modern day utility buildings!
Continue along the well defined track, following sign posts. After a mile or so, you will come to a T Junction, your path joining a larger Bridleway. Turn right here and walk down the hill for a 100 meters or so, until you find a footpath to your left. Follow this path down across a field and as you meet a farm track, turn right and follow this track for 200 metres or so. You will find a path to your left, going up the hill to Nore Folly, take this path and on reaching the folly, take a breather and enjoy the views over Slindon woods and out across the Sussex coastal plane to the English channel.
The folly was built in 1814 for the Countess of Newburgh, whose family owned the Slindon Estate. It’s thought to have been built as the countess liked a picture of an Italian building. She used the area to hold estate picnics in the summer. In WW1 it housed a radio station to help guide the airships at Slindon airfield (see my first blog entry Slindon and the Great Down) The National Trust now own the estate and have done a great job of restoring the Grade 2 listed building.
Continue up the hill and along the forest track bearing right as you reach a T junction. Again go up the hill, as you start the descent, note a footpath to your left. If the season is right (April/early May) this is a great area to see Bluebells. This area of the wood is carpeted with Bluebells and makes a beautiful backdrop. Please keep to the paths. Bluebells can take years to recover from footfall damage and remember it is illegal to pick Bluebells.
Almost half the world’s Bluebells are found in the UK, so we should treat them with respect!
Continue down the hill and then follow the footpaths to the left. You are now in Eartham woods. Here you will find a myriad of footpaths and bridleways that will criss cross each other, intersecting with the Monarchs Way national trail and the ancient Roman Road – Stane Street. If you have time and the energy, take a detour on these paths ( bring the Ordinance Survey map OL10 along for guidance) and enjoy the wild life here. I think of this as a noisy wood – there is continual bird song, I often hear Owls hooting in day time, see Buzzards, Red Kites, Chaffinches and, especially late spring lots of varieties of butterflies. If you are especially quiet, deer and even badgers will pass close by.
As you leave Eartham woods you will come to a minor road, turn left and walk back into Eartham Village
Enjoy a well earned refreshment in the George and reflect on the beautiful, rich and varied Sussex countryside.