Starting at Eartham Wood, Vincent Hallett makes straight for Halnaker Hill along Stane Street. After walking like Romans a more leisurely route is followed over Long Down through Eartham to a Countess’s favourite picnic spot.

Take the eastward gravel path from the horse deboxing area for 150 yards. Turn right along the marked bridleway to meet a minor road, just beyond a metal bar gate. Opposite but slightly left find a concealed footpath sign. Enter this woodland named The Rough and proceed along a ¾ mile stretch of Stane Street, initially beneath trees then through coppiced hazel and a more open climbing section with views across farmland.

The Roman road was constructed about AD 70 to connect the port of Chichester and London. It is evident on this first section that the road was raised on a high embankment known as an agger, bounded by side ditches 85 feet apart. Cross a stile and descend down through Bushy Copse to arrive at another stile giving access to the A285. Halnaker Windmill can be glimpsed on the hill ahead right where the walk is heading. Cross this busy road with care. Vehicles travel at high speed along this straight section. Keep to the grass verge facing the traffic for 500 yards to reach a layby. A cast iron post embossed WMB stands at the entrance to Middle Barn. Re-join the route of Stane Street by taking the footpath from the layby across a stile. The rising path follows power poles to a second stile where it becomes enclosed. The power lines peel off left through a vineyard. Continue ahead, cross a third stile and in 150 yards take the footpath right over a fourth stile adjacent a metal gate. From here ascend Halnaker Hill.

The top of Halnaker Hill is a scheduled ancient monument as it is the location of a Neolithic earthwork structure known as a 'causewayed enclosure'. This scheduling includes the WW2 observation post and the Grade II listed windmill. Restored in 1934 by William Bird of Eartham in memory of his wife, there is now ‘trouble at mill’ because the sweeps have been removed for safety and the building secured using Heras fencing. The wildflower-rich chalk grassland at the hilltop is a great spot to get away from it all and enjoy fine views. Now retrace the same route back to the layby on the A285. Crossover carefully and walk on the verge to the signed public footpath left.

The path ascends through a wood to cross a grassy track by way of a pair of stiles. Beyond a finger post points an angled right direction but the trodden path continues ahead to a post on a ridge at the edge of a cultivated field. The rising ground conceals the way from here. If it is not obvious where to walk, take a 1 o’clock bearing through the field. Once over the summit of Long Down, head towards the field hedge boundary on the far side and then track right to the 3-way finger post to re-join a defined path. Pass through a hedge line and trees using the rusty metal squeeze gate. On the other side cross a track and keep to the right of a facing hedge and pine tree. The footpath goes down towards the end of large gardens and then passes up alongside The Old Vicarage, through a gate and enters Eartham. Turn left and follow the road around a bend, with the churchyard flint wall on the right and two pretty cottages opposite, to a T-junction.

A visit to The George may refresh at this point, otherwise go right in front of the entrance to Great Ballard School and walk down the road to the first right hand bend at the end of the village. Take the track left in front of a farmyard and the entrance to Eartham Sawmill. In the dip on the right is an octagonal pump house built 1907 when Eartham House was remodelled by Sir Edwin Lutyens for William Bird and is inscribed with his initials as seen earlier. Follow a footpath marker and finger post around two sides of a large field bounded by woodland to a crossing bridleway in Puck Lane Coppice. Go right here and in 250 yards, go left between wooden barriers and along the bottom edge of an open field. On the far side take the footpath indicated right at a 3-way finger post. Round a sharp left bend and just beyond Row’s Barn take the metal gated wide track left up to The Folly.

It was built in 1814 for the Countess of Newburgh's picnic parties. Anne was married to the 5th Earl and lived at Slindon House. Beside it is a well-sited bench for enjoyment of the panoramic views, across the coastal plain and way down to the sea. Continue along the track. Pass through a metal gate and enter Nore Wood. After 750 yards the path starts to descend and there is a marker post with light blue arrows. Keep right here and descend down to a crossing bridleway in front of a two-bar fence. Go left. In just under half a mile bear left at the marker post keeping to the perimeter of Eartham Wood. Enjoy a spring carpet of bluebells beneath beech just coming into leaf. After a metal vehicle barrier walk past the Forestry Office and out onto the road by the North Wood green sign. Turn right and in 50 yards return to the car park by the same route used at the start.

DISTANCE/TIME: Six and a half miles, taking three and a half hours.

BY CAR: Car park; Forestry Commission, Eartham Wood. SU939107.

BY PUBLIC TRANSPORT: Access from point 4. Compass bus 99, stop; The George Inn.

WHAT’S UNDERFOOT: Undulating walk with hill climb to Halnaker Windmill. Mainly on footpaths with stiles. Final section through woodland muddy after heavy rain. THIRSTY WORK: The George Inn, Eartham.

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