Now that Christmas is over and the new plastic tree is back in its box I am starting to regret buying it in the rst place. It seems that real trees are now more eco-friendly than plastic ones! We now have the responsibility to make
sure that it will still be there for our potential great grandchildren’s great grandchildren in 2418 – surely by then it will have decomposed into something that won’t be part of the food chain?!

At least we still have some real trees outside which will soon start to come into bud, and where better to start looking at them than around some of our local footpaths. Does anyone else have a burning curiosity to look up the local OS Explorer map and try and work out some local circular routes without getting lost? Easier said than done in my experience. I even managed to get lost in Ashdown Forest using one of their failsafe walking map guides!

However, having dipped into Tristan Gooley’s book ‘The Walker’s Guide to Outdoor Clues and Signs’, I realise I should have taken more notice of sun position, wind direction, time of year, location of moss on tree trunks and type of lichen in order to find my way across the map. I think I may be a long while honing those skills but I was intrigued by a few interesting facts, such as that a tree stump’s centre will be closer to its southern side. From these clues it’s possible to work out where north lies without a compass. More revelations can be found in his website and books for those who are interested.

Meanwhile, there are some great local walks that are easy to navigate. You can stroll along the Worth Way from Crawley Down past the historic Gulledge Farm to East Grinstead and take another from Standen to Weirwood Reservoir, walking along its banks. Although the view of the reservoir is mainly shielded from view, it is a walk full of very healthy lichen, apparently a sign of fresh air (see map).

There are many other walks with excellent maps that can be downloaded at www.highweald.org and www.metrobus.co.uk/countryside-walks, or see page 21 for details of local walking groups.

In particular you might be interested in the challenge of longer walks broken down into sections, in which case you can potentially walk the 89 miles from Horsham, through East Grinstead to Rye along the High Weald Landscape Trail, or the 100 mile South Downs Way from Winchester to Eastbourne. The Sussex Border Path is even longer at 150 miles and runs from Thorney Island to Rye – see www.sussexborderpath.co.uk.

In order to get t in 2018, we would love to know if our readers can recommend any good walks through Copthorne and would be delighted to feature them in future editions of the magazine – if you know of any, please send them in!