RICHARD WILLIAMSON: Country walk: Chantry Post to Harrow Hill

SUS-140313-123217001
SUS-140313-123217001

On the heights between the Arun and Findon valleys are the bare Downs where our ancestors from the Neolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age cultures enjoyed a safe agricultural life.

The resonance of those distant times is today easily experienced. Earthworks, flint mines, burial mounds, encampments are still visible despite the passage of six millennia.

This walk of 3.5 miles (5.5km) encircles one of the farms. Park at Chantry Post at the end of the minor road going south from Storrington: TQ087120. 
Take the bridleway SSW 
into Angmering estate over the fields. One mile ahead stands Harrow Hill which was occupied by the Neolithic people six thousand years ago.

They superseded the Mesolithic hunter-gatherers, cleared the scrubby land and as pastoral nomads farmed cattle and grew barley.

They dug flint nodules as big as rugby balls from the hilltops out of 100 mines in order to make axes, arrow heads, skin scrapers, and hoes.

To your right are the remains of Iron Age earth banks which were cattle enclosures, just south of the woodland. As we are now well into the month of March, this is the time to watch out for migrant birds that live in open country and are at this moment on their way north to the fells, uplands, mountains and even Scandinavian moors to breed.

They usually pass this way and often perch to rest on the wire fences.

Last week I saw a couple of stonechats here. Others should include whinchats, wheatears, and even a hoopoe.

This is also another hunting ground for the peregrine falcon which chases pigeons here.

Our path turns right and after 350 yards right again, having passed Lee Farm with its concrete road.

The chalky track leads northward to the South Downs Way. As you come to the shelter belt of beech and pine, Kithurst valley comes into view to your right.

At certain times of low- level sunlight you can see the parallel bars on the fields which are the 2,500-year-old lynchet or field banks of the Iron or even earlier Bronze Age farms, all now ploughed out by more modern cultivation.

This bridle path leads on to another car park on SDW at Springhead Hill that can be used for this walk. Otherwise turn right and right again for the way back along SDW.

I always like to give the old Alvis an airing on these walk days when I can escape the typewriter and experience a much more recent Iron Age than you would be looking at today.