Ambersham Common-Heyshott-Graffham

  • Date: 15 May 2024
  • Walk Leader: Fiona El Hasnaoui
  • Distance: 9 miles (approx.)

A Wednesday walk from Ambersham Common nr Midhurst

Twelve hale and hearty ramblers met at Ambersham Common car park on a lovely sunny day, perfect conditions for walking.  We set off across the common at a good pace, enjoying the sandy tracks, green woods and tall broom bushes and heather (admittedly past their best) of this lowland heath.  We more or less followed the Serpents Way and then the New Lipchis Way.

A recent bout of rain had rendered some parts of the tracks muddy again with pools of water but we managed to navigate around them, eventually descending to the road.  Continuing on the New Lipchis Way, we traversed two fields with extremely long grass which was quite hard work but we got into our stride until we reached the road in Heyshott village near to the popular Unicorn Inn.  A sharp right took us to St James Church where we stopped for coffee (having to retreat to the back of the churchyard due to a large bonfire and accompanying smelly smoke!)  One of the gravestones had some beautiful irises growing next to it.

After coffee, we set off across fields of crops and grasses and began the steady climb up towards the South Downs Way at the foot of Charlton Forest.  A medium uphill climb turned into a very steep one, so we slowed right down, plodding our way to the top, with a fair bit of accompanying huffing and puffing.

A brief rest saw us refreshed and we headed off across the top of the hill towards the viewing point.  A wonderful view across to Blackdown Hill, the tallest point in Sussex (thank you Peter) awaited us, made all the better by the fine weather.

After enjoying this, we headed back to the SDW path and continued for a while, passing grassy areas strewn with beautiful early purple orchids and yellow wild primulas.  At the sign for Graffham Nature Reserve with information about the archaelogical features from the Bronze Age, we began the descent towards Graffham.

Passing over a stile between thick trees, we were greeted with a magnificent scene (better than the one at the top in my view) with an incredibly wide vista.

 At the bottom, we crossed a further stile and turned right towards Graffham.  A plan to stop at the churchyard of St Giles was abandoned due to it being more uphill walking (!) so we sauntered through Graffham, passing Lavington Stud and admiring the beautiful homes and gardens of this lovely village, until we reached a peaceful seating area next to the village war memorial.  A well earned rest and refuel for everyone. (Pickle enjoyed more than a bit of my brioche roll).

After lunch we continued onwards, turning right opposite the White Horse pub onto a public footpath that runs through Nonnington Farm.  Pickle was put on a lead as there were some farm animals nearby (llamas, alpacas, ponies, donkeys and Highland cattle), although most were unfortunately nowhere near as close to the fences as they had been when the author previously visited.

A short section through woods brought us to a stile into a field with horses, and a couple of gates led back to the road.  Pressing on for a section of road walking, we turned on to Hoyle Hanger and more woodland which brought us to a small bridge leading back on to Ambersham Common.  Ascending a wide sandy track, and a brief stroll across the Common once more, we returned to the car park.

Author: Fiona El Hasnaoui

Photography by Fiona El Hasnaoui, Sandy Arpino and David Roberts

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