RICHARD WILLIAMSON: Country walk: Charlton Forest

My walk this week of 6.6 miles (10.5kms) takes you through Bronze Age farmland and in particular the large cemetery of these people constructed about 3,000 years ago.

The significance of this area will be revealed on Wednesday, October 23 in the talk at Heyshott’s Cobden Hall (see Nature Trails).

Park top of Cocking Hill next to A286 SU875166.

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Cross the main road eastward on to South Downs Way towards Hill Barn.

After just over a mile along the SDW track you will pass through an ancient cross dyke, the significance of which is not certain to the people three millennia ago.

Another mile and you are at the Heyshott cemetery.

This consists of about a dozen round barrows of varying size, the second being easily the largest and therefore most important.

A wealthy farmer, landowner, or someone who had cornered the market in the importation of salt?

Perhaps a shaman or a story-teller who had the ability to bewitch the local tribes? Fortunately through the hard work and dedication of the Murray Downland Trust acting in the interests of nature conservation, landscape and historical maintenance, these tumuli are kept free of scrub and rich in wild flowers for you to see.

A way back to your car, having communed with the ancestors, is on a southward diversion through Charlton Forest as shown on my

suggested route.

Obviously there are several other routes as shown by the dotted lines on my map here.

These walks through the beech forest and back up again are over what was once Bronze Age farmland, with the small field ownership boundaries sometimes clearly seen.

Blue arrow south near the western end of the cemetery takes you south down the bottom of the valley on the bridleway for a mile-and-a-half to the crossway and then footpath right, back north-west in a straight run to the SDW again.

On the way you cross another valley carved out during the last Ice Age, 20,000 years ago. Those are recent times. The flints left behind were made 70 million years before that.

As I walk these ways every year, I alternate between looking at the flints to see if any are hand-crafted by people, at the birds flying past and at the flowers at the wayside.

Now in October and the time of the fallow deer rut, there are all the signs of these recent additions to the landscape too.

Recent? Well, fairly recent. Only 2,000 years or perhaps a little less have they been here.