I’ve never thought of myself as a ‘walker’, I’m just someone who loves the outdoors and who likes ‘going for a walk’ away from cars and traffic, ideally somewhere with lovely things to see. My favourite walks are at weekends when I take my spaniel, Charlie, on a longer walk and I’m joined by my sister, Lynn, and her dog, Zac. We catch up along the way, whilst the dogs do their thing – Charlie follows smells and young Zac chases his tennis ball. Lynn likes to choose and plan our walks, and she keeps an eye on the map and directions while I love taking photos. I’ll photograph anything from the dogs playing, to trees, views, horses or even just the sky. I like capturing the change in seasons too, when the same view looks so different and the time of year brings a new colour and tone.
The walk from Petworth through the Shimmings Valley is my kind of walk for a number of reasons. With every turn you get something new, and for photo purposes it’s pure gold. It begins and ends in Petworth – which is where I’d take anyone who wants to see picture-book England. Famed for its antique shops it’s now attracting a few more contemporary shops selling all sorts of beautiful home wares and furniture, so either side of your walk you should make time to do some window shopping and have a coffee at a nice cafe.
Once you’re ready to walk it’s just a few short turns from Petworth’s market square and you’re off into the rolling Shimmings Valley. From the start the views are unforgettable, like something from a painting. After your first climb you’re already looking back across a valley of oak trees with Petworth perched on the hill beyond. Your journey then takes you into tranquil woods which are so dense that on a rainy summer’s day the shelter from the trees will keep you dry. Before long you’re back out in the open enjoying more views over farmland and towards the tiny hamlet of Byworth which from afar looks like just a cluster of cottages. On closer inspection it has a great pub, an old phone box and two lanes of cottages that make you feel you’ve gone back in time. Behind the pub there’s a wonderful meadow of long grass. In the summer it’s just like a sea of pinkey-green that moves in the breeze and Charlie – true to spaniel form – bounds and wades through it like water.
This walk is only three and a half miles long but it feels longer, not in a bad way, but because it varies so much it feels like you’ve been further. Time wise, before you know it you’re back at base and you can pop back to the shops to pick up anything you spotted earlier. I dare say you’ll also be thinking about your return visit and when next you can get your fix of those views. Whatever the season or weather the Shimmings Valley is stunning so be sure to try this walk and to bring your camera.