RICHARD WILLIAMSON: Country walk: Wildham Woods and Kingley Bottom

Here is a walk of 6.8 miles (11kms) over the Downs giving you a last chance to hear the rutting calls of the wild fallow bucks as distinct from those in the parks such as Petworth or Richmond.

Parking is in the big FC grass park by the minor road between East Marden and Stoughton at SU815125.

This also could make a memorable walk in the moonlight which is in a few days on 27 October.

The wide gravel drive runs north east from the car park through the gate, and curves gradually around to the right through Great Dean Bottom as it climbs up to Bow Hill.

This gives you the view way down the Stoughton valley with the massive banks of yew trees on your left clothing the northern edge of Bow.

The old names of Lambdown and Stoughton Down tell of the history of these slopes when Britain was ‘built on the back of sheep’ as the old saying goes. The yew forest in places was planted with beech trees just after WW2.

Now we come to the top of Bow with its four Bronze Age tumuli and that ancient graveyard with its views out to almost all corners of the compass.

Up Park to the north, the Solent to the south west, Selsey to the south, and, if you lucky enough on one of those rare moments of extreme clarity when the sun is setting in a clear sky, you can even see the Seven Sisters cliffs way beyond Brighton. They then appear as a pale orange line to the east.

Continue west along the wide forest ride, which is now grass and which runs along the northern side of said tumuli, until after half a mile you come to a blue arrow to the left, which is the bridleway going south east from what used to be Earl Mountbatten’s polo ground, now a farm field. This takes you for a mile down the western edge of Kingley Bottom, where turn left, east, until you reach the nature reserve entrance.

Leave the public rights of way, enter the small gate and have a look into the small field centre which I built there in 1965. Then take the track north along the permissive path into the reserve. Ancient yews grow on the right of this path. Eventually you will come out in the centre of the bottom.

Here most of the 30,000 yews are displayed. Take the centre steep climb path up to the top of Bow Hill, where there is a memorial stone to Sir Arthur Tansley, who founded The Nature Conservancy and whose favourite view in Britain this was.

Now take the bridleway which runs on the southern side of those tumuli and goes eastward into the scrubby woodland. This twists and turns over the plateau clay, and eventually goes north along the side of Bow, with views down into the Chilgrove valley. Just before Blackbush house, which was once an isolation hospital for the first convalescents of Samuel Jenner’s small pox vaccine, turn left down Monarch’s Way, which will take you back to your outgoing path.

You should by now have heard those deep guttural grunts of the bucks as there are scores of deer all through the forests where you have just walked. There is even talk of a huge black cat, the Beast of Bow Hill.