RICHARD WILLIAMSON: Country Walk: Selham to Fitzlea Farm

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You reach Selham by turning south off the A272 Petworth – Midhurst road at Halfway Bridge.

It’s less than a mile and you go over the Rother at Lods Bridge which is always a nice place to stop for a look at the water and the chance of a grey wagtail in all its daffodil and winter water colours. S

elham once meant hamlet by a sallow willow copse and still does. It is also suggested to mean pig-wallow, or hall by the hamlet.

Turn right as for South Ambersham and in a couple of hundred yards you will be road-side at the local church, St. James, SU933207. This has remnants of every age in t

he past 2,000 years. The building material may be of Roman origin. The walls are thin, the usual Saxon design. But the Normans added their herring-bone patterns and the whole structure is a rubic cube of puzzles.

My route of 2.5 miles (4kms) today takes the road east down in the dip over Selham stream, right along the road a hundred yards and view of a huge duck pond, and left on bridleway into Hurlands farmyard.

Follow this in a right-hand loop 1.25 miles back to the road. Part of this runs alongside the old railway line, and there are lovely views over the Rother valley meadows. Then leaving the railway, turn south to pass Fitzlea Farm, where celandines grow on the banks.

This leads up to Fitzlea Woods, with its bluebells and wood anemones, and goldcrests singing high above in the larch and scots pines. Turn right onto the road and right again at the junction near Selham House which has towering lodgepole pine in its grounds.

The road back to the hamlet is lined with fine old horse chestnuts, oaks, and rhododendrons. But look for the footpath sign to the left after you have turned the right-handed curve. This will give you another glimpse of the Selham stream in a steep little cutting under a footbridge with more bluebells under massive oaks, willows, and alders. This is a good place to search for siskins and redpolls

The footpath goes on to pass the old Selham railway station which has been beautifully restored as a private house complete with the railway platform and a water pipe which old steam engines required for a drink. There are some stiles to clamber over.

There once more is St. James, with a seat outside to sit on to enjoy a thermos, before doodling home in the old Morris Traveller: in my dreams.