List of walks in date order, with links
Date Walk Distance
10 October 2009 Chichester to West Wittering via East Head 17.8 km (11.2 miles)
26 September 2009 Midhurst to Chichester 25.5 km (15.9 miles)
19 September 2009 Liphook to Midhurst 19.5 km (12.2 miles)

Having completed the New Lipchis way, Iíd thoroughly recommend at as a representative cross-section through all the different landscapes of West Sussex. The section approaching Chichester along the Centurion Way is a bit tedious, but the rest of the walk is first rate.

The distances in the table above are taken from the official guide. I've not checked them myself.

New Lipchis Way waymark

19 September 2009: New Lipchis Way, Liphook to Midhurst

19.5 km (12.2 miles)

Beech and oak tree
Beech tree growing on top of an oak tree, approaching Elmers Marsh

As in the case of the Serpent Trail, I first discovered the New Lipchis Way when I came across a waymark I didn't recognise, this time near Cowdray Castle, in the course of a walk to visit Telegraph Hill from Midhurst.

View, approaching Elmers Marsh

A search of the web eventually turned up an official guide to the New Lipchis Way. The guide is basic, but adequate. You are expected to 'transpose the necessarily rather simple maps onto the more detailed OS ones and safely follow the route'. The maps include a few red triangle symbols where 'you should take extra care to ensure you are following the correct route'. The guide then gives some minimal instructions relating to these points.

Goat at Upper North Park Farm

I took the train to Liphook. The New Lipchis Way starts from the station forecourt (or perhaps the adjacent car park - the first waymark I found was on the steps leading from the car park to the bridge over the railway). Rather than the convoluted route that the Serpent Trail takes onto Stanley Common, the New Lipchis Way simply follows the route of the Sussex Border Path along the bridleway.

West Copse
West Copse, below Telegraph Hill

The start of the walk was rather marred by a mass off-road cycle ride, with frequent tinkling bells from riders impatient to pass. Fortunately the ride continued along the Sussex Border Path after the New Lipchis Way turns south.

Obstacle for horse trials, approaching Iping

Until Elmers Marsh, the Way is in woodland, often coppice. Approaching Elmers Marsh the Way follows a sunken lane, along which is the extraordinary sight of a large beech tree growing on top of the lower trunk of an oak tree. The oak appears as if it had been pushed over by the beech.

Iping church
Iping church

Between Elmers Marsh and Upper North Park Farm, the Way passes through pine plantations, but was surprisingly rich in flowering plants, including a fine patch of Devilsbit Scabious. At Upper North Park Farm there was a small enclosure containing an old sweet chestnut, a kennel and a goat.

From Upper North Park Farm, the Way climbs to rejoin the Serpent Trail on Telegraph Hill (Woolbeding Common). Here I found the Broad-leaved Helleborine I'd spotted flowering on 15 August 2009 was now showing fat green seed pods.

Stedham Bridge
Stedham Bridge, over the River Rother

The way then works its way across Woolbeding Common (where I stopped to eat my sandwiches) to reach Woolhouse Farm, at the head of a pretty valley grazed by white cattle. Outside the farm there was an old wooden gypsy caravan, without wheels. This valley is a spur off a deeper valley occupied by a tributary of the River Rother. This stream has been dammed and ponded along its length, so presumably was once quite industrial.

Stedham Hall
Stedham Hall

The section of the Way following the last section of the stream and then the Rother itself into the village of Iping passes through fields dedicated to horse trials, which various large traps, pits and obstacles.

Iping has a little Victorian church. The leaflet giving its history suggests it has grown and shrunk over the years, to suit the population size, taking its current form in 1885.

Stedham Mill
Stedham Mill

The bridge over the Rother is old, 'partly of 17th-century date' according to British History Online.

From Iping, the Way closely follows the River Rother to the outskirts of Midhurst. Two particularly notable features are Stedham Hall and Stedham Mill, with a ford and stepping stones over the Rother. The New Lipchis Way guide says Stedham Hall is largely the result of 19th and 20th century rebuilding, although Pevsner describes it as 'A formidable fairy-castle effect from the river side'.

Plaque to H G Wells
Plaque to H G Wells, Midhurst

The last stretch into Midhurst is by suburban streets and then a permissive footpath, ending conveniently at the bus station. The nearby Tourist Information Centre was open, and I called in to see what walking guides they had. I wasn't disappointed - itís got a really good selection. I bought guides for the West Sussex Literary Trail, the Pilgrims' Trail (an over-packaged collection of leaflets from Hampshire County Council), the Wey-South Path, and the Serpent Trail. I've already walked the latter two paths, but the guides are a useful addition to my collection.

From the bus station there is the choice of the No 1 to Pulborough or the No 60 to Chichester, and then the train home. I chose Pulborough.

A great walk, but no pub at lunchtime, and no time for a pint in Midhurst. Waymarking has proved to be generally excellent.

Devilsbit Scabious Broad-leaved Helleborine Black Nightshade


26 September 2009: New Lipchis Way, Midhurst to Chichester

25.5 km (15.9 miles)

Cowdray House
Cowdray House

Traveline advised taking the train to Chichester, and then getting the No 60 bus to Midhurst (rather than going via Pulborough and the No 1 Bus), so that is what I did.

Todayís walk started by taking the path from Midhurst bus station that leads straight to Cowdray, the ruins of a great Tudor house.

Hayshott church
Heyshott church

I started to take a few photos, only to be reminded by a flashing red battery symbol that Iíd forgotten to charge the camera. I therefore spent the day being very miserly about the photos I took. It was like being back in the days of film - not taking half a dozen shots to pick the best one, and not taking pictures of signs and notices simply to remind me of where I had been.

From Cowdray Castle the Way follows the River Rother for a little while, before working its way south to join the Serpent Trail just beyond a bridge over the disused Pulborough to Midhurst railway. It then follows the Serpent Trail between Goldballs Plantation and Upper Polecats Copse. The point at which the New Lipchis Way leaves the Serpent Trail is marked in the guide as requiring care - which it does, the crucial waymark being missing.

View from Heyshott Escarpment
View back from Heyshott Escarpment

The next section, approaching the village of Heyshott, was across recently ploughed and harrowed fields. A path had yet to be re-established, but I have a little 5x monocular that allowed me to spot the direction posts in the field boundaries, so I could fix my direction. The ground was dry, so mud was not a problem.

The Partridge
The Partridge, Singleton

I called into Heyshott church. It smelt like an old fashioned green grocers, as it had just been decorated (and decorated very beautifully) for harvest festival. From Heyshott the Way follows field boundaries to reach the foot of the South Downs escarpment, from where it climbs steeply to the top of Heyshott Down. Heyshott Escarpment is a nature reserve managed by the Murray Downland Trust. There are wonderful views back over the weald from the escarpment.

Goodwood racecourse
Goodwood racecourse

At the top of the down, the New Lipchis Way crosses the South Downs Way and then drops through pine forest before reaching the foot of Levin Down. The Way then skirts round and over the flank of Levin Down before dropping into the village of Singleton. Singleton is sited on the River Lavant, here a winterbourne (currently dry), with old houses, a church and a pub called the Partridge. The inn sign shows a red-legged partridge, not the native grey partridge. I stopped for a pint of shandy (the day being hot).

View from St Rocheís Hill
View north from St Rocheís Hill

From Singleton the Way climbs steadily to the top of St Rocheís Hill (also called 'The Trundle' on the map), mainly on paths, but partly along a fairly busy road leading to one of Goodwood racecourseís many car parks. The summit is at 206 m above sea level, and is full of interesting features, including a trig point. It also has superb views in all directions, particularly over Chichester Harbour. Three long distance paths meet here - the new Lipchis Way, the Monarchís Way (and my Alternative South Downs Way) and the West Sussex Literary Trail.

Lavant Valley
Ridge from St Rocheís Hill leading to the Lavant Valley

From St Rocheís Hill it is a lovely long ridge walk down into the Lavant Valley. Here, for reasons I donít understand, the New Lipchis Way follows the Centurion Way to Chichester. This is a cycleway, largely following the formation of the disused Midhurst to Chichester railway (Midhurst boasts a lot of disused railways), with a diversion through the modern dormitory village of Mid Lavant.

Other than a couple of interesting sculptures close to where it crosses a Roman road ('The Chichester Road Gang' by David Kemp and 'Roman Amphitheatre' by Justin Marshall), the Centurion Way suffers all the defects of a walk along a disused railway adapted for use as a cycle way - itís dull, flat, hard underfoot, and used by cyclists.

The Chichester Road Gang
'The Chichester Road Gang' by David Kemp

Once in Chichester, things pick up again. The final half kilometre takes you through the Bishopís Gardens, and past the Bishopís Palace and the Deanery, with the spire of the cathedral as a backdrop. It could be Barchester.

Then the train from Chichester back home. A great walk except for the Centurion Way, with lovely weather. One of my next projects is the West Sussex Literary Trail, and Iím hoping that it will offer a better approach to Chichester from St Roaches Hill.

Chichester Cathedral
Chichester Cathedral

Wild Marjoram


10 October 2009: New Lipchis Way, Chichester to West Wittering via East Head

17.8 km (11.2 miles)

Canal basin
Canal basin, Chichester

Although it was Saturday, engineering works meant there were no direct trains to Chichester, so I took the train to Bognor Regis and then the rail replacement bus to Chichester.

Chichester Canal
Chichester Canal looking north from Poyntz Bridge

The bus dropped me at Chichester Station, which is on the route of the New Lipchis Way. From the station itís a short walk down the main road to the basin at the end of the Chichester Ship Canal.

Selsey tramway abutment
Abutment of drawbridge over canal for Selsey tramway

This section of canal is a branch of the main line from Birdham on the Chichester Channel to Ford on the Arun, part of an inland waterway route from Portsmouth to London. The section from Hunston to Ford has virtually disappeared. Iím tempted to trace it one day - West Sussex County Council have published details of a walk along this section of canal (Canal Walks: Arundel to Portsmouth). (The Wey South path follows, as far as possible, the Wey and Arun Navigation, which also formed part of the Portsmouth to London waterway.)

Turner: Chichester Canal
Joseph Mallord William Turner: Chichester Canal, circa 1828 (Tate Collection)

Just outside Hunston, Poyntz Bridge is the scene of a picture by Turner, looking up the canal to Chichester Cathedral. I took a photograph, hoping Iíd got the view about right, so that I could compare 1828 with 2009. (The original 1820 swing bridge has been restored and relocated just south of Chichester Canal Basin.)

Plaque commemorating Jack Holt

At Hunston, the Lipchis way turns west, and follows the main line of the canal to Birdham Pool. There is a huge marina immediately to the north of the canal just before it reaches the Chichester Channel at Salterns sea lock. On the club house is a plaque commemorating Jack Holt, a designer of dinghies. I learn to sail in a Mirror, one of his designs. An excellent little boat Ė though I never took up sailing seriously (too cold and wet).

Salterns sea lock
Salterns sea lock

From Birdham Pool, the Lipchis Way works its way to West Inchenor by an inland route. It then follows the coast of Chichester Harbour to West Wittering. Iíve walked the path from Birdham Pool to West Wittering once before this year, on one of my south coast walks with Haydn (see South Coast walk on 18 July 2009).

Birdham Pool
Marina, Birdham Pool

This time, as the tide was out, I managed to walk a significant part of the way along the foreshore, rather than along the path itself. This gave me an opportunity for a closer look at the specialist flora of mud flats and shingle Ė though October is rather late in the year for flowers.

Salt marsh
Salt marsh, Chichester Channel

When I got to the outskirts of West Wittering, I had plenty of time, so decided to include the circuit of East Head in my walk. East Head is essentially a huge moving sand dune Ė there is an interesting diagram in the National Trust leaflet describing the site which shows how its position has changed over the centuries. East Head depends on marram grass for stability, so areas are roped off to preserve it, and various specialist plants and animals, from erosion through the sheer weight of people walking on the head. Even in October, it was very popular.

East Head
East Head

Returning from the circuit of East Head, the New Lipchis Way takes a slightly more direct route into West Wittering than I had taken on my earlier walk, bypassing the church. In West Wittering I had time for a quick pint in the Old House at Home, a rather characterless gastro-pub. However, it was conveniently located opposite the bus stop for the No 12 bus back to Chichester Station, where I took the rail replacement bus back to Bognor for the train home.

The weather had been wonderful Ė a perfect Indian summer.

The Old House at Home
Inn sign: The Old House at Home

Bittersweet Sea Spurge