RICHARD WILLIAMSON: Country walk: River Park Farm, Lodsworth
Last week I enjoyed 4.6 miles (7kms) of Wealden woods and meadows, lakes and streams, lanes and views across our incomparable county.
I parked roadside a quarter-mile north of Lodsworth at SU928237 at road junction on Leggatt Hill. Then I walked eastward up the road soon finding the view opening out to Blackdown and on into the East Sussex downs.
Autumn songs of robins, wood pigeons carrying nesting twigs, and the sweet scent of whorled mint gave a sense of elation.
I turned sharp left on blue fingerpost to Lod House, then after 15 yards sharp right downhill between gap in trees past a nine-trunked beech. There is no fingerpost for this turn so you’ll just have to trust me that you are on the Serpent Trail.
Thick clay here, with sweet chestnuts, while this damp wood called Limekiln Rough grows more mint, also herb bennet and redshank.
There’s a tinkling stream at the bottom. I crossed the road under power cables and on into tall flowers such as hardhead and devil’s bit scabious, then came across an old dam out into the open sandy arable fields with a dead ash and a live whitebeam.
I walked straight ahead at this footpath crossways along a headland of heath bent grass, bracken, blackberry bushes, and many splendid oaks up to 200 years of age. You’ll see meadows with tufts of hard and soft rushes looking like porcupines. A stream-side woodland of oaks and alders to the right make a fine landscape across the meadows. Two stiles to cross before River Park farmyard with its lake and fishing platforms, which is where I spied a juvenile grey wagtail.
Cross an overspill by footbridge, then bear right on yellow arrow through gate into more rough meadows this time with thistles and 20 goldfinches when I was there.
There is another stile and footbridge to cross as you follow the rough old hedge and then cross through a gap onto the left side ignoring the footpath to the right.
Travelling northwest now you will arrive at Mill Farm with another large lake called, simply, Mill Pond.
Enjoy the view but then turn sharp left into an oak avenue past cottages and a lovely little grey Ferguson tractor. This rue of bracken and honeysuckle tracks southwest for half a mile, passing the wood called Dirty Bridge Field and down to a tiny stream with a clean bridge and a left turn off the track into another arable field.
Another patch of whorled mint, then follow the field headland as it curves in a left-hand circle to a minor road crossing and on to the edge of Lord’s Wood. This takes you back to your outgoing path, so turn right back into Limekiln Rough and on to the Lod House turning.
Short cut back to car by the road, or long cut right passing Lod House with its bamboos and marshy old woods with woodpeckers. I picked two pounds of blackberries on this walk but that was in mid-month and I had some with custard for my supper.