Petworth House and church seen from the east
We are back on the Serpent Trail with Viv and Giles after a longish break. We set off from the car park in the centre of the town and walk through quiet streets towards the eastern edge. I liked this terrace of houses - somewhat like almshouses, but more probably estate cottages.
A bit further on we enter a narrow track passing through an unusual type of stile - in fact, a turnstile. I have never seen one before in the country.
At the bottom we cross the A283 and, ignoring a second turnstile, begin our descent into a superb glassy valley
When we reach the far side we enjoy the view back and I am struck by how fine are the horses grazing in the top field. I am not usually that interested in horses, but these seem especially impressive.
We pass a house and enter an area of woodland, continuing east along a pleasant track. We emerge at a minor road and cross into Flexham Park, a large area of commercial woodland. At the end we pass through the hamlet of Bedham and turn off to the south. We pause for a picnic in a rare area of open country and enjoy the splendid views towards the South Downs. Unfortunately, the sun is (reasonably enough at lunchtime!) in the south too, so this photo isn't much.
Continuing, we soon in more woodland and notice these curious tent-like shapes off to the left. Gradually it dawns on us that they must be for BMX biking or something similar.
The route gradually becomes more open and we pass through the edge of the village of Fittleworth to reach Hesworth Common. The sun through the trees was delightful.
We emerge onto a small plateau, not high (only 69 meters in fact) but offering fine views to the S0uth Downs - the view is actually very similar to the one above - we are only a couple of miles further south.
I enjoyed a nostalgic moment passing this tree with its swinging rope. There used to be a similar one, with an old tyre to hold onto, in Oxshott Common near where I was brought up.
At the edge of the Common we pass the attractive Hesworth Grange ...
... and emerge onto the B2138 at Lower Fittleworth, where The Swan Inn has an unusual gantry supporting its signboard. We saw something similar in Stamford earlier in the year and that one was originally used as a gibbet. I somehow doubt that the Swan's was also.
We follow the road for a bit, cross a bridge over the River Rother.
A track to the right takes us to our end point at Lord's Piece car park, passing, rather surprisingly a large showroom for sofas. From the car there are lovely views of the scattered trees in what feels like the park of a great house. Looking on the map I can see that Coates Castle (an 1820 Gothick manor house) is just to the north, so perhaps this impression is correct.)
Conditions: quite cold, but also sunny.
Distance: 8.8 miles (distance now covered 40.7 miles).
Rating: four stars.