RICHARD WILLIAMSON: Walk: Temple Of The Winds, Blackdown

Richard Williamson's walk - Temple of the Winds
Richard Williamson's walk - Temple of the Winds

THIS walk was made famous by Poet Laureate Alfred Lord Tennyson more than a century ago with his unforgettable words: ‘You came, and look’d, and loved the view long known and loved by me: green Sussex fading into blue, and one gray glimpse of sea’.

He walked the mile out and mile back to the Temple of the Winds from his nearby Aldworth House nearly every day.

That is what I did last week. National Trust car parks SU922307 up Tennyson Lane off the A286 Midhurst – Haslemere road. There are one or two paths running almost parallel south over Blackdown to the viewpoint. I chose the Sussex Border Path out, keeping right-handed at fingerposts across this high heathland with its bell heather and ling giving a glorious Scottish feel to the excursion.

As you start along the sunken path, note the green hedges of bilberry either side. At the moment they have purple berries which are edible though a bit sharp. After 600 yards arrive at crossways above the valley running north called Boarden Door Bottom. Leave the SBP here, turning left up the sandy track on fingerpost. You climb gently past the 280m trig point. Beacons were lit here in 1588 warning of the Spanish Armada. The maze of paths were used by smugglers 300 years ago.

A seat in the sun or another nearby in the shade gives you the moment to enjoy the magnificent view west to Butser Hill, Woolbeding Common, Selborne and on 15 miles to Four Marks. The NT is carrying out remedial management to keep rare plants and birds with the habitat they both need. Bracken and birch, pine and bramble can close the heath to these. Belted Galloway cattle are one of the methods used, but it is an uphill task.

Finding the Temple is not easy as it is not signed. Keep ahead, south, to the brow. It is hidden beneath oaks, pine, birch and holly bushes. It is a wide, circular stone seat with inscription to Mabel Elizabeth Hunter who in 1944 donated the land to the NT. Here on a clear day is a view that will inspire as it did the poet. A plinth gives distances in view to Ashdown Forest, Malling Hill and Lewes 33 miles away. Worthing and Reigate are both 22 miles distant.

Your way back is along any of the paths running along the top of the steep scarp slope. These are shaded by old beech trees which are cool in summer, and roar in autumn. One path has the Celtic name Pen-y-Bos, used in the Bronze Age too.

Next week I use the same carpark but his time look at the other side of this black moorland mountain, walking almost into Haslemere and then back up to the top via Boarden Door Bottom.