This is a walk in remote, wooded country with isolated, scattered dwellings and delightful woodland-enclosed meadows.

It is a landscape that provided seclusion and inspiration in the early 20th century to composer Edward Elgar who took up residence in this part of the county and immersed himself in local life, taking long walks in the surrounding countryside and engaging in rural crafts.

Life here was a relief from First World War London and Elgar was able to concentrate on composing; he completed his famous cello concerto while at Brinkwells, the cottage he rented for the duration of his stay.

1. Little Bognor sits three-quarters of a mile from the A283 Pulborough to Petworth road; it is a small community of neat cottages.

Walk up the village street and at the northern end, immediately after The Grove House and opposite a delightful garden through which the millstream runs, take the signed footpath on the left that climbs to a gate, taking the right branch in the path.

In 100 yards pass through a second gate in the right hedgeline and go over a stile into a wide, open field. Follow the obvious path across the field for nearly half-a-mile, making for a stile that is left of the house on the skyline at Riverhill. Cross the stile and walk for few yards to a minor road.

2. Turn right down the road and at a sharp right hairpin bend in 200 yards take the signed left footpath into woodland. There is an isolated white cottage on the right.

Stay on the main rising track for almost half-a-mile and at a four-way signed junction turn right (blue arrow) on to a broad bridleway that passes through the middle of Flexham Park. Keep to the main track, climbing steadily for three-quarters of a mile through the mixed woodland, noting the varying stages of growth in the plantations with both coppicing areas and mature trees.

There is local folklore that heretical Spanish monks celebrated black mass in these woods; for their sins they were struck by lightning and the scattered, gnarled and withered trees are all that remains of their metamorphosed bodies. Elgar was said to be fascinated by these tales. It may account for his predilection for lighting huge bonfires whilst at nearby Brinkwells.

The onward track climbs steadily through the woodland, finally dropping to a minor road.

3. Turn left down the road and in 200 yards take the signed bridleway on the right (obscured sign by a tree) that enters Bedham Copse.

In 250 yards, the onward path bears half-right, continuing ahead at an intermediate threeway bridleway junction, to a crossing track in a further 350 yards. Proceed ahead to a drive opposite a dwelling and turn left, soon passing an isolated stone-built cottage on the left.

After the cottage, in 50 yards, take the left bridleway opposite a wooden barn.

Descend for 200 yards into a gully and take the footpath on the right (yellow arrow) into Hammonds Wood. The onward path passes through the beech wood, descending in 400 yards to a four-way path junction. Go right over a stile into a secluded, small meadow, cross to the far side. Re-enter woods, drop to cross a bridge then bear right and climb to a field gate.

Enter the field and turn left on a path that goes left of a garage.

Pass through a gate and turn left across the cottage drive, with a pond on the right. In about 75 yards turn right, there is an obscured signpost on the left beside a large holly tree. Climb for 100 yards to a four-way marker post and turn right. The path crosses a boggy area and a drive and then climbs through Arundel Holt for half-a-mile to a minor road.

4. Turn left down the road to a junction and in 200 yards turn left, signposted to Wisborough Green. Follow the road for 150 yards to the entrance of North Springs, turn right down the bridleway. On arriving beside outbuildings in 300 yards continue ahead (blue arrow) into woodland.

Pass over a crossing track in 150 yards and at a pole barrier in a further 75 yards turn right (blue arrow).

Climb steeply to a path junction, turn half-right across the field, dropping to a hollow, then climbing along the left hedgeline to the drive at Springs Farm. Drop quarter-left into the scrub, do not take the farm drive on the right.

Continue through the woodland, crossing a couple of spring outlets, turning left for a few paces and then right over a plank bridge. The path bears to the left, climbing steeply up the bank and turning right to arrive beside a cottage. This is Brinkwells, Elgar’s country retreat from 1917 until 1920. Continue up the drive beside the cottage to a minor road.

5. Turn right up the road for 200 yards, there is a prominent Royal Mail box ahead. Just before the mailbox, take a left foot-path over a stile, descending south-westerly through the woodland.

At a four way crossing in 250 yards take the right branch (yellow arrow) and in a few paces at a second marker post branch left, descending a gully to arrive beside a wall with a pond on the right at Warren Barn. Climb out of the gully and continue ahead, with coppice on the left.

The footpath descends to a crossing farm track, then enters woodland to climb to a field path. Cross to the far side, with a grassy bank on the right, to Mitfords Copse.

Continue through the copse, keeping to the main path and descend in 200 yards to a fourway crossing. The sand and stone pit at Bognor Common are to the right.

Turn left (yellow arrow), there is an obscured footpath sign, and in 300 yards arrive at a minor road junction.

Cross to the opposite side and descend the road for a little over a quarter-of-a-mile, passing Crowsoll Mill, to arrive back at Little Bognor.

  • Distance/time: Six miles taking three hours.
  • By car: North off the A283 Pulborough to Petworth road, half a mile after Fittleworth, onto a minor road signposted to Little Bognor, it is three-quarters of a mile to the village. Limited roadside parking in village.
  • Start point grid ref: TQ005206.
  • By public transport: Details from or phone 0870 6082608. Bus stop on A283 at Little Bognor turning, walk up minor road to the village, adds total of one-and-a-half miles to the walk.
  • What's underfoot: A Wealden walk in undulating wooded country with some steep climbs. Not suitable for an off-road baby buggy, and hard going with a baby backpack.
  • Thirsty work: Nearest pubs are The Swan at Fittleworth or teashops and pubs in Petworth.
  • So you don't get lost: OS Explorer map 134 and a compass for general direction.

For a larger version of the map, see 'related links' above.