Vincent Hallett strides out across the flat farmland between Barnham and the coast to visit William Blake’s cottage in Felpham and returns to seek out evidence of the Portsmouth and Arundel navigation.

1. The walk starts at the Murrell Arms in Yapton Road. Go under the railway bridge and find the village sign that commemorates the Royal Wedding on July 29 1981. Proceed along Church Lane for ½ a mile to its junction with Highground Lane and Hill Lane. Continue ahead along the marked cul-de-sac with the flint wall and neat espaliers of Barnham Court right, to reach the lych gate of 11th century, St Mary the Virgin, inset. It is now isolated but originally the village was clustered around the church and up to the Middle Ages a tidal creek ran to within a few yards of the building. Opposite the church enter the gated track, where a finger post indicates the start of a footpath and permissive bike ride. In 100 yards keep left where a drive forks right and continue in the same direction towards the coast at a crossing footpath indicated by a four-way finger post. This is just beyond the site of the Hollinsworth Swing Bridge marked by a Sussex Industrial Archaeology Society plaque. Head south east to where the path turns sharp right and meets Lidsey Rife. In just under ½ a mile cross the channel via a footbridge.

2. From here the route turns south with fields on the right and a ditch and high hedge on the left. Ignore a left path at a three-way finger post after 600 yards. Continue right for a further 75 yards to a partly concealed trig point right beside a three-way finger post. Ahead is a road under construction. Provision has been made for walkers to cross. On the opposite side of the new road walk ahead to meet a line of trees and bushes that conceal a stream. Go right and follow the edge of this field until two Lombardy poplar trees can be seen within the golf course. Just before these are reached a wooden footbridge affords a route into Bognor Regis Golf Club. The path cuts a diagonal line across fairways to another footbridge over Lidsey Rife. Keep on the same bank within the golf course, go left and turn left again at the next footpath sign. The path is soon a defined track between small trees. In 200 yards turn right, keep to the signed footpath and pass a greenkeepers hut on the right to reach an ornamental pond. Walk left around the pond and then diagonally across another fairway, directed by two marker posts to reach a footpath behind houses. This path continues through a gate and alongside Downview Primary School and Felpham Community College.

3. Use the pelican crossing to cross the A259, Felpham Way and keep to the tarmac footpath to enter The Parish Church of St. Mary the Virgin churchyard. Inside is the Blake window installed in 2011 to celebrate the poet’s life. Leave by the lych gate, cross the road to enter Limmer Lane and then right into Waterloo Road by the Thatched House pub. At the end of this road is The Fox Inn, mentioned in William Blake’s biography, ‘Uproar at The Fox’. Cross into Blakes Road and the second property on the left is Blake’s Cottage. Blake wrote his epic poem Milton here. Reputedly the ‘green and pleasant land’ in Jerusalem was inspired by the Felpham countryside. Bognor Regis promenade is reached at the end of the road, where the route goes left in front of Felpham Sailing Club. After ½ a mile leave the seafront at Fourth Avenue. A path access leads to Wansford Way. At the next junction with a small roundabout the footpath is indicated left along Crossbush Road and then between houses. The alleyway opens into a recreation ground and out onto Middleton Lane. Crossover and walk up Flansham Lane. Just beyond Lionel Avenue on the left, take the footpath over grass and a bridge and then behind houses. Where this ends go right at the three-way finger post and cross a new road. The path continues through a gated field to emerge into Hoe Lane. Keep right where Hoe Lane divides by a wall mounted letterbox. The footpath goes left over a stile into pasture at Lanes End Barn. Ignore the direction of the finger post here but take a diagonal line to the gate in the far boundary. Continue ahead. The path veers left through another gate and crosses the Ryebank Rife at Weststone Bridge.

4. Continue in the same direction. On the left is a solar farm that was visible earlier along the walk. A gate leads onto Drove Lane. After ½ a mile take the next footpath right after Drove Lane Farm. This goes around two sides of a large field and enters Yapton between a house left and hedgerow to the right. The path leads to an intact but disused canal bridge that now gives access to residences. Go left on the bridge and follow the footpath signs along a ¾ mile stretch of the short-lived Portsmouth and Arundel canal. Built between 1818 and 1823 it closed in 1849. At the site of the Tilebarn Farm Swing Bridge, one of seven on this section, take the path right across a field and over two stiles, along a narrow footpath to reach Yapton Road, adjacent Barnham Windmill. Detour right to view the mill more closely. Otherwise complete the walk by returning left along the pavement for 600 yards to the Murrell Arms, licenced in 1866, the pub name is unique in Great Britain.

The essentials

DISTANCE/TIME: Nine miles, taking four and a half hours.

BY CAR: Park on the road in Barnham near to the station. SU961043.

BY PUBLIC TRANSPORT: Rail; Barnham. Compass busses 66 and 85A, stop; Station.

WHAT’S UNDERFOOT: Level walking throughout on good well drained paths, pavements and sea promenade. A few gates and just three stiles. THIRSTY WORK: The Murrell Arms, Barnham. The Thatched House and The Fox Inn, Felpham.

SO YOU DON’T GET LOST: OS Landranger 197 Chichester & the South Downs. OS Explorer map 121.