RICHARD WILLIAMSON: Weekly Walk: Ebernoe Common

Country walk - Ebernoe Common
Country walk - Ebernoe Common

THIS is your last chance to hear a nightingale this year if you go now on this walk.

Ebernoe Common nature reserve, managed by the Sussex Wildlife Trust, has three or four birds which will sing until June 10 or thereabouts – after which they croak, quite literally.

The walk is short, 1.6 miles (2.6kms) but will take you two hours as you stop to listen to the songsters which include chiff-chaffs, black-cap warblers, song thrushes, mistle thrushes, robins and marsh tits.

Park at Holy Trinity chapel (SU976278) which is hidden away in the trees almost opposite the 18th-century Ebernoe House, and quarter of a mile east of the cricket pitch.

The tiny graveyard is covered at the moment with bluebells, spotted orchids, cowslips, ground ivy and ox-eye daisies.

Pevsner called the chapel ‘a tiny box of bricks’. It is certainly unusual and very pretty with a lovely interior of white, with black beams, and splendid Victorian floral windows.

All the kneelers are embroidered with flowers. This puts one in the right mood for the great outdoors, also a national treasure.

Walk south, turn left at sign ‘Furnace Meadow’, all of it once a brickworks. Left through gate following meadow path eastward past gorse bushes.

These and the wood below by the stream is where the nightingales sing. Path bears right down to the stream, which we cross and then climb up the other side.

Stay on woodland path ignoring stile down to left. The hazel coppice is rich in woodland flowers, especially (currently) bluebells and early purple orchids.

Look for badger sett under enormous double-trunked Turkey oak.

Through small gate, steps up slope into a vivid green sward of wood mellick grass. Keep left to pond, where reedmace and willows grow.

Uphill on muddy path, soon turning right, keeping two small twin oaks on your left and entering a holly grove.

Path wanders to the right, west, crossing two small footbridges. I heard jackdaw, stock dove and song thrush here. Follow overhead telephone cable here, soon coming to right turn at public footpath on wide ride.

Note the common yellow hill ant castle covered with cinquefoil as you turn right. This ride grows the dark green soft rush plants.

Stay northward on reaching forest vehicle track, a turn half-right. This takes you under magnificent tall timber of beech and oak to T-junction.

Turn left over cattle grid past SWT reserve sign, following track back over the stream again.

Continue back to car, in my case my lovely old Alvis which rather fits in with this backwater of a gentler age.