RICHARD WILLIAMSON: Country walk: Chilgrove and Lavant valley

Here is a nine-mile (14.5 km) walk to see the yellowhammers in the summer hedgerows.

Saturday, 20th July 2013, 12:00 pm
Walk: Chilgrove - Lavant valleys

Limited parking along Hylters Lane mainly at road junction SU847147.

Walk southwest under power cables where a red kite often hangs about.

Thick old hedges all along this lane down to Brickkiln Farm hold yellowhammers, whitethroat warblers, linnets, hedge sparrows and others still breeding and singing

in July.

This is also a good wintering place for finches, kites, buzzards for you to see. View west to part of the Kingley Vale NNR and SSSI yew forest.

House martins and swallows are nesting at the farm. Cross main road on to Monarch’s Way. This is a good place to see bloody-nosed beetles and banded snails. Turn left up bank well before the gate across the track and south into the NNR. This woodland path takes you uphill past the Iron Age camp called Goosehill, which may have been one tribe’s declaration of power to the Trundle builders on the next hill across the valley.

Cross the path junction, but almost immediately turn left at the second path going south. This is along the wide grass ride with beech plantation on your right.

Follow this ride south for over a mile down to the cross rides on Langford Farm.

Ahead is a view of the sea. Nearer West Stoke Clump, used once as an invasion warning beacon. To the right is the Solent and Isle of Wight, with Kingley Vale nearest.

Turn left at junction through the wheat fields, passing Welldown Copse. Thick hedges all the way with dogwood, hawthorn are home to yellowhammers and whitethroats. Cross the busy and dangerous main road, into Binderton Lane, uphill. This takes you past the wartime home of Sir Anthony Eden, prime minister in 1956. He thought the Lavant valley ahead, at dawn, was as perfect as a Ming vase.

Cross main road to the right, on to bridleway east, over the Lavant River meadows and on over the dismantled railway line.

Turn left along the bottom of the flower-rich downland fields. This joins up northwest down the West Dean Park boundary wall on the Monarch’s Way. Lunch and teashop at village stores.

Cross the A286 again past the village school, then under the old railway bridge on the minor road north west. This takes you back to your car after about two miles. To avoid the dangerous double bend at Double Barn you should take the shortcut left, into the woods, on yellow arrow.

Before descending Lodge Hill on the long straight, have a scan over the prairie fields right and left for red kites. The beech avenue is magnificent here in autumn and is also a useful place to see bramblings and chaffinches.

I am bringing out a new bird book in August which will tell you how and where to hunt for all these kinds of birds throughout Britain. Happy walking and birding!