1 - With the picturesque Anglo-Saxon church of St Mary on the right, across the village green behind the war memorial, head northward up the narrow road.

There is more to this bypassed, tucked away community than is at first apparent from the church and green. Behind the church, just to the north-east, is the ancient stone-built Manor house, which long ago would have been the administrative centre of justice, order and favours.

The village schoolhouse still exists, beside the green, where local peasant children were taught the rudiments of literacy and numbers in order to make them more useful, deferential workers, but not too independent of thought. Here they scratched on their slates.

The estate across which we are walking was wrenched from its Saxon militia inhabitants in 1066 when they had the temerity to take up arms against a thug from Normandy. Fortunately, we were left with their identity in the name of our county and the foundations of our language. Walk on and wonder.

After 150 yards, at a junction of the minor road, turn left and in a few paces leave the metalled surface to walk ahead along a bridleway, passing cottages on the right. In a short distance, enter the woodland of Walter’s Plantation, continuing for a quarter of a mile to a three-way junction and sign.

2 - Turn right on the descending bridleway for 250 yards to the outbuildings of Limbourne Farm. Keep direction ahead, skirting round a grain hopper and soon passing Limbourne Farmhouse, then walking through a narrow strip of trees onto a rising, sunken bridleway.

In one-third of a mile the track comes to the edge of Fittleworth Wood, continuing its northerly direction between banks to a bridle gate on the right – ignore this turning.

Continue ahead for a few paces and take a left turn – there is an obscured three-way signpost on the right. Follow the bridleway for about 75 yards and at a marker post and junction take the right fork, indicated by a blue arrow.

The way ahead, now in coppice, follows an increasingly rising path through the woodland, where there are some fine examples of Scots Pine, and soon bears left (blue arrow) to take a westerly direction.

Ignore any side turnings that are either bridleways or forest working tracks when passing through younger coppice. Continue across the top of a rise, descending ahead for 125 yards to a minor road – Bedham Lane.

3 - Turn right up the quiet roadside for 300 yards and where an indistinct footpath leads off left (there is a sign hidden in a holly bush). Take this turning into the woodland of Lithersgate Common.

The path twists its way through the woods, negotiating a route around any fallen trees, and in a quarter of a mile comes to a left turn with a fallen tree immediately ahead – signposted on the right.

Turn left up a short rise, through scrub and silver birch, to a junction of paths and a marker post. Turn right (yellow arrow) through Warren Barn Copse; a woodland worker’s shelter can be seen off to the right.

In 250 yards the path comes to a stile that gives access to a clearing beside the road, with a junction of footpaths and a Royal Mail post box on a pole.

4 - Turn left along the road for a few yards and take the right turning (yellow arrow) along a farm track, leading to Springs Farm.

The wide track comes to the farm after a quarter of a mile. With a farm entrance gate off to the left and a footpath joining from the right, walk ahead a few yards and cross a stile (yellow arrow).

Keep to the right edge of the next field, descending for about 100 yards and then bearing half-left across the rising meadow, to the far left corner.

At a four-way path junction, pass through the bridle gate and turn right down the right edge of the hilltop meadow for about 200 yards to then bear left towards a gate, giving access to Chance Copse.

5 - Follow the path ahead between the plantation for 300 yards to a crossing track and bridleway sign. Cross over the track, bearing slightly half-right, and descend the steep gully, which can be slippery and wet in places.

Go over the gully floor, climbing out the far side, crossing over a track and ascending the slope ahead.

At the top of the climb turn left for a few yards, passing in and out of a shallow gully and then turn right to a wider woodland track, turning right again. In a short distance turn left (blue arrow), and we are now in Fittleworth Wood.

Follow the descending track, passing an isolated brick cabin off to the left. After a quarter of a mile the path comes to where we were earlier, at point 2.

6 - Continue ahead down the track for a few yards to the bridle gate that is on the left and pass through. Take a half-right line across the field towards a hedge gap in 250 yards and keep direction down the next meadow towards a hedgeline.

Follow the more confined track between bank and hedgerow, crossing over streams that can make parts of the path boggy, finally climbing to the edge of a minor road.

Turn right along the road, passing a sandstone cottage and then two dwellings, known as Jubilee Cottages, which were constructed in 1887.

Tucked away in the woodland on the right, out of sight, is the West Laundry Cottage; presumably one could send one’s dirty linen to a drudge who, for a mess of pottage, would scrub and iron. At least one could get the staff in those far-off days.

The quiet road goes ahead, arriving back at our starting point beside the village green and church.

Distance/Time: Four and a half miles/two and a half hours.

By Car: North off the A283, quarter of a mile west of Stopham Bridge. Parking beside the village green, opposite the church. Start point GR TQ026189.

By Public Transport: Stagecoach buses to and from Midhurst and Pulborough operate along the A283, for times and transfers visit www.traveline.info or call 0871 2002233. Trains to Pulborough Station for bus connections. Request a bus drop-off, cross the road with care and walk up the lane to the start, which adds a total of 500 yards to the walk.

What’s underfoot: Mainly woodland walking on signed paths and bridleways, with some hilltop views and early spring flowers – delightful, quiet countryside. Some stiles and slippery gully paths. Possible with a baby backpack – take care on slippery ground. Not possible with an off-road baby buggy.

Thirsty Work: Refreshments available at The White Hart pub, adjacent to Stopham Bridge, a quarter of a mile from the start/finish of the walk.

So you don’t get lost: OS Explorer Maps 121 and 134 plus a compass for general direction.

Click here for a full-sized map of the Stopham walk