RICHARD WILLIAMSON: Country Walk: Up Marden

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At this time of remembrance the walk starts in the churchyard of St.Michael, Up Marden, SU795142. This hamlet is on a minor road north of Walderton, seven miles northwest of Chichester.

It is here that a Sussex military hero is buried and his grave attended with wreaths laid by The Grenadier Guards and the SAS. Captain Westmacott, MC, is buried south of the main door beyond two tall male yew trees which stand guard.

The church is a capsule of ancient times, almost untouched from the 13th century, still with its original lancet windows, uneven brick floor, wagon roof; a dignified and acerbic testament to the lives and deaths, struggles and beliefs, of people through the ages. A host of female yew trees on the north side attend the graves as well. Look also for the tablet to Sussex archaeologist Alec Down by the garden seats.

Parking is next to the 200 year old timber cart shed which has been saved by SDNP, Natural England, and the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum. Passing the grave of Capt. Westmacott, a footpath crosses a field south-east, then the minor road through a gap in the hedge. Turn right, then soon left on yellow arrow, into meadows. Over a stile, and into Blinkard Copse, with its old flint mine pits, blown beech trees, and apparent ancient track-way. The path exits and turns south across a new-sown field to a house in a lane, where you turn left, and follow this track for half a mile. T

his is an ancient shaw or safe-way, with its ditch-lines either side. It dissolves into a rue of trees and bushes and a view right of the Solent. At Inholmes Wood turn left on yellow arrow along the woodland edge under old beeches, and follow footpath north, down to the minor road to East Marden. You pass another huge pit to the left, and then walk past the tall, straight new beeches planted in about 1948.

Turn left along the road for 500 striding paces – well that’s what I made it – when turn left at what could be an alternative small parking bay, on a yellow arrow into the ash, hazel and field maple woods. There has been an old rubbish tip here. Badger and deer tracks cross the path all along the way.

The path climbs, and comes to a crossing of footpaths. I took the left, and put my legs in bottom gear for the steep hill ahead. I daresay athletes of a young age would run all the way up this but I stopped a couple of times to admire the trees around me for half a minute.

On coming out of Stripeshill Copse I followed a thick old hedge of holly and ivy, maple, ash, elder, sycamore and wild rose, and admired a spindle bush at the telephone post which had the number 20. There is also a well-used badgers’ latrine at this point as well. This brought me up to Up Marden, and its centuries of history in that little church.