1 - From the bus stop and car park half a mile south of Cocking on the Chichester to Midhurst road, turn west into Middlefield Lane, passing between farm buildings in 200 yards. The track soon begins to climb up the eastern slopes of Cocking Down, at first between high banks and hedges.

As the gradient levels off, after a further half-mile, the South Downs Way (SDW) arrives at a crossing bridleway junction. Off to the left is a large chalk ball, apparently some form of artistic installation.

Keep to the main SDW track as the gradient eases across open downland, passing the highpoint of the hill, off to the right, at 780ft.

2 - At the next crossing point, after a further half-mile, close to Newfarm Plantation, continue ahead, passing through the remains of a cross-dyke in a quarter of a mile and crossing another bridleway junction in 200 yards. The track then passes around the southern flank of Linch Ball, which at 813ft is the high point of this section of the SDW. The way ahead is quite clear between the bordering hilltop meadows, passing two tracks that lead off to the right, and then crossing over Didling Hill for half a mile.

The SDW then enters scrub and tree cover close to Monkton House, between high fencing, the solitude sometimes interrupted by the call of peacocks in the adjacent garden.

After a quarter of a mile the track turns left around the southern flank of Treyford Hill and in 300 yards arrives at an interesting diversion.

Off to the right, just before woodland, is a stile giving access to the Devil’s Jumps, a grouping of 3,000-year-old Bronze Age burial mounds, said to be in alignment with the setting midsummer’s sun.

3 - After inspection of the tumuli return to the SDW and turn right into the hilltop woodland of Philliswood Down. Walk through the woods for 350 yards to a junction of tracks and take the right turning, continuing through the woodland. In a few yards note the memorial on the right in memory to Hauptmann Joseph Oestermann, a German Luftwaffe pilot, killed on August 13, 1940, the first day of the Battle of Britain. The enemy Junkers plane was shot down by a Hurricane pilot from RAF Tangmere; the rest of the enemy crew were later captured.

The SDW continues through the woodland, turning north after a quarter of a mile, ignoring a left branch. Descend the wide track, taking a left turn to arrive at the service road for Buriton Farm.

4 - Take a few paces left, then divert right through a bridle gate, heading 300 yards towards trees. Ignore a track leading right, take a few paces left, then turn right and follow the twisting path that skirts below fields, joining a crossing track, close to Mount Sinai.

Go right and, in a few paces, turn left, climbing the steep slope of Pen Hill. Having puffed your way to the top, take the steep descent down the western side to a path junction. There is a variant to the main path (see below), but the SDW from this point heads left on the terrace path along the eastern side of Beacon Hill to a junction of tracks in half a mile, north of Telegraph House Take a nearly full right turn, following the hedge-lined bridleway through Bramshott Bottom. At the north end of the coombe, head for the cairned signpost. If you choose to take the variant path from below Beacon Hill, climb the 300-yard slope to the summit (794ft) to take in the view from the Iron Age encampment. Descend on rough steps to the valley bottom to join those who have taken the longer SDW route.

5 - From the signpost head west, climbing the eastern flank of Harting Downs – there is a choice of parallel tracks as you crest the hill. Big views open up across the Weald and looking ahead you may glimpse the ruined Vandalian Tower, about three-quarters of a mile away. The folly tower was built around 1770 for Sir Matthew Featherstonehaugh of Uppark House, don’cha know. Triangular in plan and with pointy windows, the building was possibly used by the Hellfire Club for their riotous gatherings – oh, what fun the chaps had. Meanwhile, the locals got on with hedging and ditching, having fun in less ostentatious ways – more ’umble and cottagey, with rough ’ands.

Continue across the hillside, going through gates and keeping to the north side of the visitor site, with views down to South Harting. Head for the far bottom right corner of the popular site, passing through the trees, down to the roadside – the B2141.

6 - Cross with care and locate the continuing SDW, going to the right and following a descending, balcony bridleway, north-westerly, through woodland, with the road far below. The path diverts to the left after nearly half a mile and in 200 yards comes to the B2146.

Cross with care, locate the SDW bridleway and in a few paces note the footpath leading off to the right – this is the path to take, bidding farewell to the national trail.

Follow the descending path down through The Warren, possibly slippery after wet weather – care required with a baby backpack, not recommended with an off-road buggy. In a quarter of a mile the path arrives at a small recreation ground. Continue to the far north side.

Pass a small car park and follow the village street in South Harting, beneath the watchful verdigris steeple of the church. Note the stocks and whipping post beside the church wall and understand you are entering an ordered, law-abiding community, in which miscreants will be dealt with appropriately.

Continue down the delightful street, where there is an opportunity to sate your thirst and hunger, and congratulate yourself for walking a big part of the SDW – well done. Time for tea.

* Distance/Time: Eight and a half miles, taking four and a quarter hours

* By Car: Car park half a mile south of Cocking village for drop-off on A286. Car parking in South Harting village or at Harting Downs car park for pick-up. Start point GR: SU875166, from Cocking car park.

* By Public Transport: Travel details from www.traveline.info, phone 0871 2002233. To the start at Cocking take the No 60 Midhurst to Chichester Stagecoach bus, all week service, phone 0845 1210190, visit www.stagecoachbus.com for times. From South Harting take the Petersfield to Chichester No 54 Countryliner bus, no Sunday/Bank Holiday service, phone 0844 4771623 or visit www.countryliner-coaches.co.uk for times.

* What’s underfoot: Open and wooded downland walking, with steep climbs up Cocking and Pen Hills and a steep and possibly slippery descent to South Harting. Possible with a baby backpack, but a couple of tough ascents. Possible with a baby buggy as far as Harting Downs, but not recommended to descend through The Warren.

* Thirsty Work: Pubs in South Harting.

* So you don’t get lost: OS Explorer map 120, plus a compass for general direction.