RICHARD WILLIAMSON Country Walk...Serpent Trail, Bexleyhill

Here is another walk with bluebells, buzzards, ravens, wood sorrel and siskins. What a lovely mix.

Only 2.5 miles (4kms). Park roadside in Bexleyhill SU910253 three miles northeast of Midhurst.

Take Serpent Trail, blue arrow, through gate into woods northwest with tall Douglas firs on your right in which goldcrests and firecrests singing if you can hear these high-pitched squeaks. A buzzard has a nest here near the gate too.

A trickle of water in the ditch to your left gives life to that very elusive and pretty little flower the wood sorrel: (look for its ‘shamrock’ leaves) and also a fine display of the graceful plant great wood-rush, both on your left as you descend.

After 600 yards your path turns right on bridleway, downhill with path which just below the spring-line is often muddy. This track wanders more to the west as you stay on a leftish curve. Finally it runs due west on the level with chestnut coppice to left. Badger runs across this path you may notice. Your path then turns north, briefly joining a well-used forest track used by coppice cutters above on the hill. I now turned right on a fingerpost footpath sign northeast, and at this point came across a pair of siskins obviously nesting in the firs.

Then after 400 yards I came upon a very tall Douglas fir at the base of which squirrels had been descaling cones to get the seeds. It was in the top of this century-old tree that I heard ravens having a discussion about something. They seemed to be arguing.

I tracked onwards, keeping left and finally coming to a yellow arrow fingerpost leading left. After a little while I came to the Elizabethan iron works to the right, (not on public way) and its hammerpond where I found a few pieces of dark green glasses, this being the clinker from the foundry of 400 years ago.

Returning to the proper path, I soon dived downhill to the stream, crossing a couple of footbridges and noting a fine clump of hard fern growing beneath one. Uphill under the Douglas firs and followed signs to the left and so to the end of a public road and a bridge with a stream.

Here I turned sharp right and started the last mile of my walk along one of those ancient shaws which were designed in the Middle Ages to give safe drained passage through difficult country, usually swamps.

I love this rue with its bluebells and Victorian beech hedge gone old and wild, growing up like a herd of drunken elephants; the beech bark having exactly the same colour and texture of elephant hide.

The end of this path is the worst bit of the walk if you are daunted by steep hills and stony paths which at times is the bed of a stream. Good for your heart if you take it easy.

At the end was for me a tortoiseshell cat sitting in the wood by the cottage and an old classic car too, just as serene.

* See the April 12 issue of the Observer to view a map of this walk.