RICHARD WILLIAMSON Country Walk...Monkton Farm

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If you cannot make this Saturday’s open day by the Murray Downland Trust of their reserve which displays the famous Devil’s Jumps Bronze Age cemetery, here is an alternative route taking you to the site in your own time.

This walk is 4.7 miles (7.5 kms). Park grass verge north of Staple Ash Farm SU837156. Take right track two at cattle grid, along shady rue of hazels to older woodlands with tall Douglas firs and larches which is where silver-washed fritillaries will be flying in a fortnight, also white admirals.

At five crossways under old beeches you enter Cowdray estate at the place called Sandy’s Bottom. Take third left on blue bridleway arrow into mature Norway spruce woods. These are about 50 years old and their mature crowns are full of firecrests. As you climb up towards the downs you will cross 3,000-year-old massive farm field boundaries about 50 paces apart. All this land of fore was then bare open fields.

At the bridleway crossways take first left which is almost straight on and after 500m you will come to the South Downs Way. Turn left, enjoying the open Downs and their bird’s eye views either side.

This will bring you in just over a mile to Monkton House on the left, which was once the home of art patron Edward James. Salvador Dali among others benefited from his support. He also kept many of the world’s endangered wild pheasants and so does the present owner. EJ also planted unusual trees and you will perhaps notice his cut-leaved beeches.

SDW bears left, south-west, and after 500 yards you will see the magnificent Bronze Age tumuli on right. These are burial mounds of unknown chieftains and perhaps their dynasty.

You really must come along this Saturday, June 18, when you will have their complete history explained to you. You will also receive light refreshments at the well-known Royal Oak Inn free of charge too.

This walk takes you 400 yards to a five crossways where the SDW bears sharp right but you now go sharp left over a stile and eastwards into a meadow along the hedge.

After 200 yards the path bears right down the grazed meadows to the site of the ancient Monkton Farm. Here in 1250 was a monastery, an offshoot of Waverley Abbey in Surrey.

Grassy mounds show the site of the cottages of this mediaeval village. It may have been the plague or the enclosures which closed this community.

Now follow the rue path south and south-east downhill all the way, noting the hedgerow trees of ash, oak, hazel, holly, and field maple. There are hedgerow flowers too of herb bennet with its clusters of hooked brown seeds, and nettle-leaved bellflower like a big campanula.

At Yew Tree Cottage on Hogs Common turn left down the road to the old Alvis (nee Morris) wishing it could bump over the cattle-grid.