Richard Williamson, the great naturalist and countryman, devised this walk in Binsted and Tortington woods to enjoy this wonderful environment in its autumn colours. It’s a short circular walk in woodland that his grandfather, when he lived at Walberton, knew so well in the late 19th century. It was last published in the Bognor Observer in 2013.
The walk itself is indicated on the map by a red broken line. The red dotted lines are (very approximate!) public footpaths. Use an OS map if in doubt.
From Tortington Lane west on fingerpost into woods of Scots pines planted over hazel coppice. Neither species are very happy with the arrangement. The old oaks which my grandfather knew when he lived at Walberton House in 1888 have been cut down.
The butchers broom plants show, however, that this is ancient woodland in parts.
Footpath follows an ancient row of banks which allowed safe passage in medieval days. Footbridge crosses tiny stream.
At Binsted Lane, left then right back into the woods.
Honeysuckle shows that this wood supports colony of white admiral butterflies which fly in July. The caterpillars eat honeysuckle leaves.
Small bridge crosses another stream with holly growing nearby. Then turn right on fingerpost.
As you arrive at a large holly under a spreading oak, turn right (no fingerpost). If you have come to open fields, you are too far west and will get lost. I did this!
Now you are walking north. This is not an easy way to follow as there are several paths people have made over the years shooting off in all directions.
You have passed under some old beech trees and should then arrive at a crossway where there is a garden seat. Turn right along a made-up causeway with masses of pendulous sedge growing in the ditches.
This takes you 400 yards east to another crossway where turn half right on fingerpost, leaving a biggish beech on your right together with two Lawson cypresses. This time larch trees are trying their luck on the soggy ground.
Cross the stream by a baby yew tree. Soon you come to a house on Binsted Lane. Turn left then right after 20 yards, soon to cross the next stream again.
By the way, I have recorded both marsh and willow tit in this wood in the past, to say nothing of nuthatch, mistle thrush, and great spotted woodpecker.
My grandfather shot rabbits, pigeons and pheasants here, according to his diaries. One day he even shot some corncrakes. Things were different then.
If you pass a huge abandoned tractor tyre at another footbridge, you are on the right path. That wasn’t there in grandfather’s day for sure. On reaching the road, Tortington Lane, turn right back to the car.
Grandfather had a pony and trap. He even drove himself in it to the doctor’s surgery in Arundel when he cut the top off his finger on the lathe, holding said fingertip in place to have it successfully stitched together.