Friday, 25 January 2019

Personal

On our way home

The border crossing at Gretna has a special place in my heart. It's where the Coastwalk will end; it's a place I've stopped many times before on my way up and down the country.

But today the significance is greater than usual.

welcome-to-scotland

Today we cross the border heading north on our way home.

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Monday, 14 January 2019

South Downs National Park and East Sussex

Ashdown Forest

groombridge.jpg Distance: 7.47 miles
Ascent: 209 metres
Duration: 2 hours 13 minutes

17. Groombridge and the Medway Valley

hundred-acre.jpg Distance: 5.82 miles
Ascent: 182 metres
Duration: 1 hour 46 minutes

13. Hartfield, Withyham and Five Hundred Acre Wood

ashdown-forest.jpg Distance: 3.74 miles
Ascent: 154 metres
Duration: 1 hour 11 minutes

3. Airman's Grave and Duddleswell

Pooh should be ashamed. A sign on the edge of Five Hundred Acre Wood insists that visitors are not welcome. Try telling that to the Chinese tourists I met at Poohsticks Bridge asking for directions to the House at Pooh Corner.

And now the answer to my question is now clear. Today's are going to be my last Sussex Walks for a while. I've managed to complete all the walks on the eastern page of the West Sussex book, and all those on the western page of the East Sussex book; twenty-eight in total, exactly half of the walks in the combined volumes.

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Sunday, 13 January 2019

South Downs National Park and East Sussex

Sunday Afternoon Stroll

pet-sheep.jpg Distance: 4.59 miles
Ascent: 29 metres
Duration: 1 hour 21 minutes

5. Barcombe Mills & the Ouse Valley

A final quick walk to round the afternoon out, taking in two sides of the Sussex Ouse. Almost everybody else I saw was walking their dog, and it's easy to see why: this is simple, enjoyable strolling.

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West Sussex and the South Downs

Wild Life

rutting-deer.jpg Distance: 6.59 miles
Ascent: 71 metres
Duration: 1 hour 58 minutes

16. Belloc's Mill

motocross.jpg Distance: 4.01 miles
Ascent: 106 metres
Duration: 1 hour 6 minutes

6. St Leonard's Forest

Setting off from the village of Shipley at dawn, I soon crossed a deer fence into the Knepp Castle Estate. Across the field I could make out shadowy figures pacing back, then tangling together with a clatter of antlers. It was a sight that almost caused me to return to the car immediately: nothing else could top it.

On the second walk a very different sound filled the woodland. The roar of engines and the smell of two-stoke from the motocross circuit were a world apart from the tranquility of the first walk. Wild life of a very different kind.

Wile life of two sorts were exhibit

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Saturday, 12 January 2019

South Downs National Park and East Sussex

White Cliffs

beachy-head.jpg Distance: 7.04 miles
Ascent: 321 metres
Duration: 2 hours 9 minutes

15. Beachy Head and Long Down

lower-cuckmere.jpg Distance: 6.80 miles
Ascent: 376 metres
Duration: 2 hours 10 minutes

19. Friston Forest, the Seven Sisters & Cuckmere Haven

seven-sisters.jpg Distance: 4.17 miles
Ascent: 182 metres
Duration: 1 hour 14 minutes

7. Cuckmere Haven from Seaford

Once again I've prised Emma from her desk, this time with the promise of salty air. We now know the date we'll be leaving Sussex, so felt the need to see the sea one last time, and where better than by the Seven Sisters? The next time we're near saltwater it'll be when we're settled in our new home. Not long now.

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Friday, 11 January 2019

West Sussex and the South Downs

Wealden Walking

wealdway.jpg Distance: 8.90 miles
Ascent: 128 metres
Duration: 2 hours 28 minutes

23. Arlington and Abbot's Wood

longhorn.jpg Distance: 9.46 miles
Ascent: 342 metres
Duration: 2 hours 45 minutes

20. Mayfield and Wadhurst Park

tomb-decorations.jpg Distance: 7.75 miles
Ascent: 234 metres
Duration: 2 hours 22 minutes

18. Blackboys and Waldron

For today's walks I'm off the downland and deep in The Weald instead. That means I've exchanged lofty close-cropped grassy expansed for muddy, intensively-farmed landscape.

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Sunday, 6 January 2019

South Downs National Park and East Sussex

White Figures

white-horse.jpg Distance: 9.66 miles
Ascent: 264 metres
Duration: 2 hours 45 minutes

25. Cuckmere River and Norton Top from Alfriston

choose-love.jpg Distance: 4.86 miles
Ascent: 238 metres
Duration: 1 hour 26 minutes

9. Firle Beacon and Charleston Farmhouse

long-man.jpg Distance: 8.62 miles
Ascent: 368 metres
Duration: 2 hours 34 minutes

21. Alfriston, Long Man of Wilmington and Jevington

The Long Man of Wilmington must be one of the country's most famous white hill figures, said to be the tallest figure of a human in Western Europe. I passed it towards the end of this equally epic walk, and near the beginning passed a smaller chalk figure that I'd not known before: a white horse facing the village of Littlington. On the stretch of path joining the two I found my favourite figure though: a simple chalk drawing of downland on a fence post, annotated with the words "choose love".

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Saturday, 5 January 2019

West Sussex and the South Downs

The Two Rings

em-with-book.jpg Distance: 11.42 miles
Ascent: 460 metres
Duration: 3 hours 41 minutes

27. Cissbury and Chanctonbury Rings

Emma's been working hard during the Christmas and New Year period, which is why I've done most of these walks on my own, but she wasn't able to resist the thought of linking the two hill forts at Cissbury and Chanctonbury. We've been to both before, but never connected them on foot.

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Tuesday, 1 January 2019

South Downs National Park and East Sussex

Downland Memories

bull.jpg Distance: 9.74 miles
Ascent: 370 metres
Duration: 2 hours 45 minutes

26. Download walk from Telscombe

green-man.jpg Distance: 12.58 miles
Ascent: 510 metres
Duration: 3 hours 51 minutes

28. Lewes, Balmer Down and the River Ouse

My worst ever experience with cows was on the stretch of the South Downs Way climbing from Cricketing Bottom to Mill Hill near Rodmell. Our write-up from that day doesn't mention the herd that refused to get out of the way, the bull that subsequently ran at us, and the frantic fence-hopping that ensued, but I remember it well. Walking in the opposite direction today I met a similarly recalcitrant beast and used the same technique to exit the field but at least this time I wasn't so panicked by the experience.

But don't let this put you off this stretch of the Downs. The lofty path above Standean in particular is a delight, with the sea on the horizon and miles of rippling countryside ahead.


The stretch of the South Downs Way to the south of the A27 holds various memories for me. I first walked it in 1994 or so with a friend from Tonbridge who told me about a guy she'd met while taking a year out in Tanzania. Before too long they became the first of my friends to marry, and I'm delighted that we're still in touch today.

The second memory is

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