WALK REPORT ARCHIVE for 2007
This section contains an archive of reports for 2007 and earlier years.
Individual reports are not indexed.

Mount Caburn
On 30th October members were walking near Mount Caburn above Lewes. The ditches of the ancient hill fort stood out dramatically against the clear sky. We stood and talked about it and there were various opinions. Some years ago I was taking part on an introduction to archaelology surveying course and I was privedledge to take part in a survey of Mount Caburn and I remember identifiying the entrance and numerous pits(36) for grain storage. So on my return home from the walk I consulted my copy of "The South-East to AD 1000" in the series A Regional History of England which I recommend. One of the authors David Rudling I have met on various sites. There are numerous Hillforts in Sussex the Footpaths Group have often walked over and round them. In the book there is no question that Mount Caburn is any thing other than an Iron Age Hillfort, though it is a small one and may have started off as a defended farmstead during the sixth and fifth centuries BC. Many of the hillforts went out of use by 100 BC but Caburn was an exception. In the First century BC it was fortified by a ditch and a simple dump rampart and, may be as a response to the Roman invasion, it was refortified by an extra ditch in the first century AD. Mount Caburn has been excavated at least twice. The only evidence of buildings is the discovery of iron latch lifters. But lynchetted field systems, 140 possible storage pits and  large quantites of finds indicate that the settlement was a mixed farming economy that was also involved with spinning, weaving, metallugy (both bronze and Iron) and the use of antler for items. Interestingly, a bracelet of Kimmeridge shale was found and also coins indicating trade with North Kent and the Thames area. It remains a mystery why Caburn was strongly defended when other hillforts were being abandoned, was it a possible an anti-Roman action in contrast to the pro-Roman sympathies of West Sussex? There is evidence of burning in the area of the gateway; were the occupants attacked and forced to abandon the fort? These sites ofter raise more questions than answers? Grace Blaker

Three Leg Cross and Bewl Water

On a bright sunny day 10 of us set out from Lewes for a rather long drive to walk around Bewl Water. We parked at the Bull Inn and after a short walk up the road joined a footpath through apple orchards where we met the farmer and stopped to talk to him. We walked through woods to a road which led down to Bewl Water. The trees were in their Autumn colours and the scenery was stunning. Views across the reservoir with geese and other winter visitors to be seen were arresting and we stopped on a number of occasions to take it all in. Coffee was taken at the water’s edge in bright sunlight. We finally left the path around the edge of the water and headed back towards Three Leg Cross. We came across another orchard with windfalls beginning to rot on the ground but we found enough to make quite a few apple pies. At least one rucksack was very heavy for the last leg of the walk.Then back to the Bull Inn looking forward to an enjoyable lunch but it was not to be. The service was terrible, an hour and a half before everyone received their food. The walk was beautiful, the company delightful, the weather bright and cold, the scenery stunning but the lunch a disaster! The walk was led by Eileen and Gordon.

Firle Circular

Who could believe it was November on such a warm sunny day. Well twenty three of us did, as we set off from Firle Beacon car park in glorious sunshine on Sunday 4th November. After walking along the South Down Way and passing Beddingham radio masts we turned left onto a path which took us across the top of the Downs with the sea glinting ahead of us. Coffee was taken on the top of Snap Hill with far reaching views in all directions. Skylarks singing above made it feel more like Spring than Autumn. After dropping down towards Denton, we turned left onto a bridleway which took us up to the top of Gardner's Hill, the one 'significant' climb on the walk. Thereafter a steady climb took us back onto the South Down Way which we then followed back to the car park. We covered 6.6 miles of delightful Downs countryside. What better way to spend a Sunday morning? The walk was led by Hilda.

Hadlow Down Walk

On a mild misty morning 24 of us set off from Buxted railway station heading eastwards through the village, before reaching open countryside and Potter's Green. Under foot the grass was very wet but we soon walked some distance on made up roads, hardly seeing any vehicles. Afterthen walking eastwards again for about half a mile through woodland we reached Warren Farm. Passing through farm outbuildings we headed northeastwards through further mixed woodland known as Waste Wood, on a bridleway, for a distance of about 1 mile. Over the years where the track has been made muddy by horses raised paths were available to be used as a bypass. Before leaving the wood we stopped in an area where some trees had been felled leaving stumps we could sit on, to take a break. Shortly after leaving the wood our route took us through the western part of Hadlow Down, after crossing the A272, near the church. By this time the mist had almost cleared and for the rest of the walk we had quite good views to the north. Having left Hadlow Down we were soon heading westwards on the last leg of the walk back to Buxted. This part of the walk took us through pastures, over several stiles, more woodland and about half a dozen private gardens. Eventually we reached the car park at the station having passed through the northern area of Buxted. Before returning home over half the group stopped at Oast Farm (farm shop and tea rooms) for refreshments and produce. Graham and Jill led the walk.

Around Barcombe

On a recent Wednesday, Hazel led a pleasant 5.5 mile walk following part of theSussex Ouse Valley Way, and linking the three villages which comprise the Parish of Barcombe. Under overcast skies, 25 members started from the largest of the three villages, Barcombe Cross (confusingly signed Barcombe on the approach road!). We followed clear field paths towards Banks Farm, and its striking fortified barns. A short distance along Anchor Lane, we turned right to skirt fields until we reached a small copse where ducks and geese were nesting. We turned south, crossed a footbridge and stopped for coffee in a sheltered spot on the river. Admiring the prolific balsam growing on the banks, we continued along the idyllic riverside footpath on the east bank of the Ouse, with the reservoir hidden on our left, towards village No. 2, Barcombe Mills. This village takes its name from its corn mills mentioned in the Domesday Book, the last one closing as recently as 1939, when destroyed by fire. We crossed the old Toll Bridge, still bearing its scale of charges (pedestrians free), and nearby a former lock on the canal converted to fish ladders. Barcombe Mills station and the old Anglers Rest Inn, now residential properties, indicated the past economic importance of this village. Turning west, we crossed the line of the discontinued railway and watched students deftly harvesting a bumper crop of sweet corn. We stopped to examine some recent archaeological excavations, which had revealed a Roman pavement and several post holes. There is thought to be a link with the site of a Roman villa near Barcombe Church. On a recent recce. the students showed us pieces of pottery recovered from the site this summer. We headed southwest towards village No. 3, Barcombe itself, which was deserted at the time of the Black Death, when villagers fled to higher ground at Barcombe Cross. There are fine views from the Norman Church of St Mary the Virgin, which dominates the village; also of note is an unusual thatched round house and a magnificent Sussex barn. A short way along the lane through the village, we resumed our field walk and watched swallows skimming the meadows for insects. Re-crossing the old railway line, we surprised a harvest mouse scavenging for food. Turning away from the grassy valley through which the railway had run, we followed a path leading behind houses on the edge of Barcombe Cross which brought us back to the High Street and lunch in the village pub.

Newick to Isfield circular

On a pleasantly sunny, but occasionally cloudy day, 17 of us took part in an all-day country walk in the Newick-Isfield area starting from Allington Road in Newick. We were lead by Richard, who was supported by Joyce, on his first walk in charge. The walk took us through many fields and over many stiles. In most fields the crops had already been harvested except for some of the clover which was either drying out or waiting to be cut. We saw very few cattle. Despite the recently dry weather the water level in streams and ponds was quite high and the grass was quite wet under foot due to the heavy morning dew. At approximately the half way point on the walk we stopped for lunch north of Isfield. We could hear the trains from the nearby Lavender Line. After lunch we headed back to Newick using a slightly different route, arriving back at the cars at about 3.30pm.

Seaford to Glynde

On 4th September, members of Lewes footpaths group decided to take steps to reduce their carbon footprint by using Southern Trains to get to the start and at the end of their 14 mile walk. The sun shone all day on the righteous!

This is one of the most spectacular walks in Sussex. There is a great variety of views right from the start; the brightly painted beach huts along the promenade at Seaford, climbing Seaford Head and looking down on the town and beyond to Newhaven and then facing east to the Seven Sisters. These came into view as we approached Hope Gap and as the tide was well and truly out, we took the rough beach to walk to Exceat. This part is exceptionally beautiful. The chalk cliff is topped with orange coloured acid glacial soil which has formed chimneys through cracks in the chalk hardening it, great chunks of this lie on the beach and further out there are rock pools so circular that they look like wells. We stopped on the ledge under the breakwater at Exceat and looked at the Seven Sisters. The several chalk buttresses seemed more prominent and whiter than ever, perhaps there has been some recent chalk falls or the light was particularly good this day.

We took the western bank of the River Cuckmere. This is a flood plain with river meanders and distant hills. The water was low and we saw a white egret fishing in the ditches along side; it flew off as we approached. We stopped at the popular Golden Galleon for drinks and two of our party caught a bus back to Seaford, the rest of us crossed the busy A259 and rejoined the riverbank. This part of the walk was level but from where we joined the National Trust Firle Estate we began to climb. As we approached High and Over we caught the whiff of a barbeque and acknowledging the cook we sat in the shelter of a bank on the leeside of his smoke. He seemed to be very expert and was cooking a great feast far too much for just himself, his wife and small child. We got out our picnics and enjoyed the splendid view to the sea. You can image our surprise and delight when the cook came over to us with a stainless steel bowl filled to the brim with barbecued meat and going from one person to the other with delightful courtesy he offer all 12 of us some of his lunch. He told me he was a visitor form Mongolia.

Well fortified we then crossed the Alfriston road and had a steady long climb along the contours using a bridle way which at firstly went though long grass on which were grazing a mixed breed of sheep. They looked skinny, they had just been sheered from their summer coats. Over head was a group of rooks doing aerial acrobatics with each other, climbing high and then circling downwards in a spiral. The verges of the paths were rich in wild flowers, many now showing heads of seeds but one pretty pink one still flowering, it was Soapwort. How very appropriate to find near sheep. It was once used to wash woollen cloth. The climb up to the South Downs Way was a bit of a slog but the compensation was the sense of freedom atop of this open landscape of rolling hills and endless sea and sky. From the crest of Firle Beacon we were looking at another panorama of distant Lewes and beyond to the Weald. We took a steep slope down to Firle, found welcome cold drinks and ices at the Post Office/shop and headed for Glynde. The total time from station to station was 7 hours. An unforgettable walk led by Grace Blaker.

Laughton and Forest Row

Robert Cheesman has led two half day walks in recent weeks. The first at Laughton was mainly on paths that Lewes Footpaths Group had cleared some years ago and it was surprising to note the extent to which parts of them north of the main road had become overgrown with brambles and nettles. Fortunately conditions were much better south of the main road and good views of the Downs were obtained from the area around Laughton Tower.

The second was in the Forest Row area where a coffee stop was made on the banks of Weir Wood reservoir. However this was after having to traverse a short section of muddy path which caused those wearing sandals to get dirty feet. The return to the village was by way of the derelict Brambletye Manor and part of the old railway from East Grinstead now known as the Forest Way. After the walk about half the party had a splendid lunch in one of the old coaching inns in Forest Row.

High Hurstwood

On a very windy and blustery Wednesday 22 August, Rosemary led 19 members around the area of High Hurstwood and Buxted. The walk started at the Maypole Inn, High Hurstwood and soon we were turning left down Perryman's Lane. At the bottom of the hilll a stream was crossed and up a concrete drive past Maypole Farm then out through a woodland. Passing along by 'Stonehouse' we were asked to wait a while two lively horses were led in front of us. Following an access drive to Rocks Lane we soon came upon the busy A26, thankfully we were only on this for a very short timle before turning down a drive to Bevingford Farm passing hazelnuts growing along the hedgerows. Most of the time we appeared to be sheltered from the wind which was very encouraging and it was pleasant for walking as the rain kept off. After passing through a field and a footbridge over a stream we then stopped for coffee on the hillside. Soon after we entered Hurstwood Road making our way over to Buxted Park which is always very peaceful. Passing Buxted Church through the churchyard we had lovely views in the distance over the Weald as we walked through the parkland. Back on to the A272 going through Buxted village, we passed the station and took the left turn into Church Road passing St.Mary's Church and an oast hourse. Soon we took a left track past St. Margaret's cottage then over stiles and a footbridge crossing back over the railway until we came by Willow Lodge and through a muddy section with striking sandstone outcrops to our left. Eventually after passing through several fields with Hymalayan Balsam looking very attractive by the streams we came back out to Hurstwood Road and finally back to the Maypole Inn. Most of us enjoyed a meal here also being joined by a few members who were unable to walk making it a very sociable occasion.

Ripe

On Wednesday 25th July, 20 people set off from The Lamb at Ripe for a walk before supper. On leaving the car park the route immediately entered the garden of the house opposite - and what a stunning garden it was. Following the path we were quickly greeted on the other side of the fence by four barking dogs who finally found a way of joining us on the path and enjoyed being stroked. The path led us to nearby fishing lakes, through a small wood, across a large field of beautifully manicured grass to the Laughton road. After a short road walk, where we saw a fox cross the road in front of us, we turned to the right. The official path is blocked but the local farmer was kind enough to let us go through his yard before rejoining the path. Two very large pigs greeted us in the yard and the next field had very young calves and their mothers in at and we thought nothing of walking amongst them. Only as we got to the far side of the field did we see the very large bull lumbering down on us. A scream from one of the walkers halted him in his tracks and we all safely got through the gate and out of harms way. After a number of fields the path led us through another garden and out onto the road. By now the rain was with us and in heavy drizzle we completed the walk back to The Lamb Inn and joined by two other members 22 of us had a very enjoyable and sociable supper together. The walk was led by Gordon and Eileen

Cowfold

After an overnight thunderstorm, 14 people set off from Cowfold with some trepidation as to what the weather was going to do to us. However, although it was very humid, the 5.5 mile walk was rain free. The walk, heading north and east from Cowfold was through open fields and woodland, by ponds and stream, along well made paths and those less well maintained. A kingfisher was spotted flying under a bridge, butterflies were everywhere and many wild flowers enhanced our enjoyment. Some of the fields set aside were covered in a delicate red grass which gave them a beautiful sheen. The walk had a fair few stiles, all in good condition, but no hills to speak of. Most people stayed for a very enjoyable lunch at The Coach House who had set aside tables for us and looked after us very well. The walk was led by Gordon.

Around Mayfield

The group recently walked around Mayfield, which being an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is surrounded by some beautiful views as well as being an interesting old village with its 13th Century palace, now part of St Leonards Mayfield school. So plenty to see and enjoy. The walk started on a path to the east of the village which provided the opportunity to pass some attractive old houses down East Street. Taking a path between houses in a close we crossed some meadows in full flower and into the peace and quiet which was a particular feature of the walk. We soon arrived at Merrieweathers House which was built in the 13th Century, before crossing an impressive bridleway bridge followed by slightly more than a patch of mud as we ventured into the wood. We glimpsed Sharden Old Manor farmhouse with its moat before climbing up another meadow to a convenient stop for coffee which provided an opportunity to look back down the valley and the views beyond to admire some pretty impressive trees. We continued on a tree-lined drive which provided some welcome shade before turning off down a drive past Sharnden Manor. This bridleway provided some of the best views of the walk and soon we were back into the meadows with purple seeded grass shown at its best in the sun. We walked a short way down Coggins Mill Lane before taking Vicarage Wood which provided the final climb of the walk back to the village. Some of us had a good lunch in the old Middle House in the village after a hot but beautiful walk

Around Steyning

On Bank Holiday Monday a group of eight intrepid (or foolhardy) walkers set off due south from the village of Small Dole in the teeth of strong winds and steady rain. After passing through Mannings Farm a steep climb took us up on to the Downs, circling round Room Bottom with its accompaniment of motorbike 'dirt-track' engines, to join the South Downs Way just west of Tottington Barn. Without pausing too long to enjoy the views, as it had become even more wet and windy, we walked over Truleigh Hill, and sheltered in the YHA hostel there for a quick cup of coffee. We then soon left the Way to descend north from the Downs at Edburton Hill, a very pleasant green path downhill and out of the wind. We crossed the A281 at Edburton, and gradually worked our way back across field paths and via South Furze wood to enter Small Dole village, where we all enjoyed a tasty hot meal and some liquid refreshment at the Fox, eventually making our way back to Lewes feeling virtuous, well-fed and warm, if not yet quite dry.

Seaford for Breakfast

Eleven of us set off by train from Lewes Station at 6.30am on 16th May, fortunately a pleasant Wednesday morning following a day of rain. Arriving at Seaford Station we headed for the golf course through the town. We reached the junction of Chyngton Road and Southdown Road via Church Street and Steyne Road. Heading south eastwards we then took a footpath across the golf course and then walked eastwards to South Hill Barn. With a glorious view of the Seven Sisters we headed south eastwards again to the coast along Hope Bottom. After a short stop the group then took the Vanguard Way back towards Seaford along the coast. It was not long before we could clearly see all the way to Newhaven and beyond with one ferry leaving and another out at sea. Back in Seaford , having descended the Head, we walked along the Esplanade to Dane Road. This popular walk, which has become known as the 'Breakfast Walk' and may be repeated annually, was rounded off by a delicious breakfast at Notts before returning by train to Lewes with much of the day still ahead of us. The walk was led by Graham and Jill.

Boarshead to Crowborough

On a sunny, cloudless morning 17 members travelled by bus to Boarshead, north of Crowborough. As the walk was planned to help the environment we left our cars at home and let ‘ the wheels of the bus go round and round’. Within 3 minutes of alighting from the bus we were on a footpath through a very large and neat orchard with most of the trees in blossom. Bearing right through the orchard we were soon out on to green, undulating open land. Following a stream we arrived at a pretty little glade with a backdrop of a small wood, bluebells were growing and logs and a seat made a very comfortable coffee stop. We passed a number of small woods carpeted with bluebells – such a lovely sight at this time of year – for such a short time. Rising and falling the footpath passed some very impressive looking houses, one in particular was draped in wisteria. To enable us to appreciate what was around us we kept the walk at a leisurely pace and headed for the Landscape Trailwhere we eventually stopped at some large rocks shaded by trees for a long lazy picnic lunch. After lunch we headed towards Crowborough, through longer fields and more bluebell woods until we came to a main road for a short distance until we could pick up the footpath again. This took us through trees and past 3 ponds. We skirted the third pond onto a lane which took us through Beechen Wood towards Crowborough, where those who wanted to had the chance to maybe shop or taske afternoon tea – but we were all pleasantly relaxed and ready to get on the bus after an enjoyable 7 mile walk. The walk was lead by Jean and John.

Devil's Dyke

Due to a knee injury Grace was unable to lead Sunday's planned walk around Waldron so a walk from Devil's Dyke, led by Janet, was substituted. The starting point was the Summerdown car park just below Devil's Dyke and 15 of us started off in perfect walking weather, dry and sunny but not too hot. First we followed the South Downs Way down to Saddlescombe where we crossed the road then climbed gently before turning off onto the Sussex Border Path with its stunning views and serenading sky larks, then continued down Varncombe Hill. After crossing a minor road and climbing gently we took our coffee stop on the brow of a hill where we were entertained by the acrobatics of model aircraft being flown with great skill by enthusiasts from their own dedicated airstrip. We carried on across Devil's Dyke Road continuing past Brighton & Hove golf club. In fact there are no less than four golf courses in this immediate area and plenty of golfers were out enjoying their game taking advantage of the wonderful weather. At a junction of paths we saw the route of the old dismantled railway which used to bring golfers and walkers up from Brighton We turned onto the gentle descent down Monarch's Way before climbing again then turning right and following the long, gradual ascent back up towards the Dyke golf club with fields on either side of us full of cows with very new calves. On reaching the road we picked up the South Downs Way again to lead us back to Summerdown. Here we were amazed to meet dozens of walkers with dogs. doing a similar sponsored walk in the opposite direction. Several of us finished off with lunch at the Dyke Inn or the Swan at Falmer

Ditchling Beacon Circular

Due to illness, the walk that Janet walk had planned for Wednesday 4th April was led by Graham and Jill. It was a very scenic walk with a good mixture of the Downs and woodland where bluebells coming into bloom were spotted among the abundance of spring flowers. Fourteen walkers left from the car park at Ditchling Beacon in a biting wind which was to remain at times throughout the day but which gave way to warm sunshine in more sheltered places. The South Downs way was followed eastwards initially and the group then continued on to Black Cap where a brief stop was made. A short distance later a path bearing sharply left was used for the descent to the B2116. Having crossed directly over this road, the group continued north to Warningore Farm, before turning westwards to reach The Half Moon pub at Plumpton. Here about half had lunch with the remainder picnicking in a sunny spot over the road with a lovely view ahead of the Downs. Suitably refreshed, we continued on our way through Plumpton College grounds and then, by way of fields and woods, to Streat. A brief pause was made opposite the church to take stock and admire the view before turning south to pass by Middleton Manor and reach the road once more. The Jubilee path then led us to Westmeston where we took a left turn to begin the ascent back to the cars.

Danehill

On Wednesday 21 March Rosemary Burnett led a walk around Danehill. The walk started at Danehill Church with 23 members enjoying a beautiful sunny but cold day but soon were warmed up after a little climb up Church Lane to take us into a drive to a cottage although it was a public footpath. The primroses were in full bloom along the banks and really put a spring in our steps. After crossing several fields we turned off into Northland Wood which was very dry considering we had had rain at times in the past few days and luckily most of the walk we encountered only small amounts of mud which could be walked around. We soon passed Northland Farm with a pretty pond by the entrance and flowers planted all around. Crossing Ketches Lane we entered Kings Wood where logs were suitably placed for a coffee break to be taken, so peaceful with birds singing to tell us that Spring was definitely here. After passing under and again a little later over the Bluebell Railway near Freshfield Mill Farm we came out to the lane again this time passing a beautiful old brick and timber house called Town Place. Further fields were walked and another very dry woodland path and after a few yards we turned right on to a driveway leading to Kidborough Farm which was lined with daffodils to cheer us on our way. Soon we were in another wood with a large pond on our left. We then ascended back to eventually join the path that we took on our way out at the beginning of the walk. It was agreed that this was a very interesting walk with lots of old and beautiful houses and spring flowers including catkins and pussy willow out in full bloom on the way. Afterwards a good few members plus our president enjoyed a very good lunch at Heaven Farm.

Balsdean Valley

The few brave souls, who braved the threat of heavy rain and worse, were rewarded with a dry walk in the sun recently. The walk from the group's publication 'Favourite Walks in and around Lewes' started at Woodingdean and took the path down the side of the downs to Balsdean Bottom. This has to be one of the most beautiful paths available to Sussex Downs lovers as it goes around the contours down to the valley, with rolling downs all around, in almost perfect peace and quiet. We met many runners going in the opposite direction and assumed that they were in training for the Beacon half marathon. We stopped in Balsdean Bottom to read the stone marking the position of the church alter of the village that once stood on this spot and continued up Balsdean Bottom, to the escarpment with its views across Kingston to Lewes and over to Mount Caburn and Firle Beacon. The walk continued on the South Downs Way with views across to the racecourse and Black Cap. Unfortunately here, we were walking into the wind which made the walk a little hard going but still the sun shone all the way back to Woodingdean. Most of us stopped for a really good, and very reasonably priced Carvery at The Downs Hotel, Woodingdean, feeling that this was well deserved after the mornings walk. The walks books published by the group are available from the Lewes Tourist Information Office.

A weekend with walkers from St Albans

Deans Place Hotel on the outskirts of the little olde worlde village of Alfriston, nestling below the South Downs, proved to be a wonderful venue for our weekend. Our select group of six SAR members met up at the hotel on Friday evening and were treated to a first-class 3-course dinner - an excellent start to what turned out to be a brilliant weekend.

After breakfast on Saturday morning - a sunny, crisp day with clear blue skies - we met up with Mike and Tina's friends Gordon and Eileen, who live in Lewes and know the area well as well as Jill and Graham from Lewes Footpaths Group. Gordon was going to be our guide for the weekend. We set off from the hotel walking through the pretty old village of Alfriston - en route Gordon very wisely called in at a little tea shop in the village to reserve tables for lunch - and picked up the Vanguard Way which snakes across the fields to the village of Berwick where we called in at the Church of St Michael's and All Angels which, in its present form, dates back to mid-12th Century, although there has been a church on the site for over a thousand years. The church is decorated with lovely murals painted between 1941 and 1942 by the Bloomsbury Group who used to stay for long periods in the nearby Charleston Farmhouse, the home of artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant.

On leaving the church, we walked along the Old Coach Road towards the Downs and after quite a steep climb we reached the top where we stopped for a coffee break and marvelled at the large number of paragliders swooping around up above us sitting beneath their colourful canopies. After our break, we walked along the South Downs Way with beautiful views over the surrounding countryside back to the village of Alfriston. Here we stopped at the Badger's Teashop which was full of people tucking in to the wonderful homemade fare served up in this lovely little shop and thanks to Gordon's foresight two tables had been reserved for us. I can recommend the swede soup!

After lunch we crossed the River Cuckmere and walked along it on the Vanguard Way before turning off this path to pick up the South Downs Way which, after an initial climb dropped down into Charleston Bottom, a wide valley which in summer is full of butterflies and flowers. From here the path continues into Friston Forest, home to many different types of wildlife, especially rare butterflies and deer. On the northern edge of the forest we walked through Lullington Heath Nature Reserve, one of the largest areas of chalk heath in the country and from there the path goes uphill to Winchesters Pond, a large dew pond which provides water for the sheep that graze in the area. From up here on the top of the hill we had a lovely view over the countryside and in the far distance we could see, like small dots in the sky above the Downs, the paragliders still swooping and gliding in the afternoon sunshine.

We followed the path which sloped gently downhill to the village of Litlington with its 12th Century church and from here we continued back to Alfriston, where we had time for a quick look in some of the quaint little shops, such as the Much Ado Bookshop and the Bat's Wing Apothecary, before heading back to the hotel and a well-earned rest before dinner. At dinner, which proved to be another gastronomic highlight, we were joined by Gordon and Eileen, as we were going to have the pleasure of their company and the benefit of Gordon's excellent guidance on the Sunday as well. We all agreed that we had had a wonderful day's walking.

On Sunday, after a hearty breakfast, we met up again with Eileen and Gordon plus two of their friends, Eddie and Joan. The ten of us set off from the hotel on a dry, mild morning which added to the enjoyment of the beautiful countryside. We went along a stretch of the South Downs Way and along part of the Weald Way until we came upon the Long Man of Wilmington, a mysterious 235 feet high figure carved into the hill nearly three hundred years ago. From here we walked to the village of Wilmington, via Folkington, passing another dew pond, hollowed out by 19th century shepherds. After lunch some of us called in at Rottingdean and took a walk along the promenade beneath the high chalk cliffs before rounding off our luxury wekend with a delicious home-made cream tea. Our thanks to Mike and Tina for organising such a wonderful weekend and to Gordon and Eileen for their Sussex hospitality and for leading the walks.

Past walks

Wilmington

On a fine and sunny day, thirteen walkers set off from Wilmington car park towards the Long Man, that enigmatic figure on the Downs. Ascending the escarpment we headed for Winchester Pond, restored now as a nature area where coffee was taken. The views from the top of the Downs were both across the Weald and towards the sea. On arriving at Windover Hill we were distressed to find a sheet caught in brambles but Brian rescued it, cutting it free and we were all happy to see it run off to join the others. Descending we ended up where we started in Wilmington and enjoyed lunch at the Giant's Rest. The walk was led by John and Joyce.

Brightling

15 people took part in Lewes Footpaths Group's walk in the Brightling area on a good morning on Sunday 28th January. Starting at a point between the obelisk and observatory they went into Rounden Wood in which they crossed the conveyor taking gypsum from Brightling mine to the processing plant at Mountfield. After climbing a hill and passing the road entrance to the mine they proceeded into Leggett's Wood where coffee was taken with some of the party sitting on trees that had fallen in the recent gales. The return journey was made past Perch Hill Farm and the driveway leading to Little Worge Farm. Although conditions were a little muddy underfoot in one or two places this was compensated by the clear and sunny conditions which enabled excellent views to be had both of the Downs in one direction and the Weald stretching into Kent on the other. Following the walk most of the party retired to the Swan Inn at Woods Corner where an excellent lunch was served. The walk was led by Robert.

Saddlescombe/Devil's Dyke

Wednesday 24 January saw Lewes waking up to a thick sprinkling of snow, putting the morning's walk in doubt. However the four of us who met up in North Street car park decided to go ahead and we were so glad we did. The roads through to our starting point at Summer Down just below Devil’s Dyke were clear and problem free and we arrived to find our familiar downs transformed into a winter wonderland. The first part of the walk followed the South Downs Way down to Saddlescombe crunching through the snow and watching our feet carefully on the descent. We met several families with children eager to try out their toboggans and sledges. We turned off onto the Sussex Border Path with stunning views as we left the mist behind us, then continued down Varncombe Hill where we met a busy farmer struggling up and down in his tractor to bring hay to his livestock. We crossed the Saddlescombe road where our leader Janet pointed out the marked out airfield where enthusiasts fly their model planes at weekends. We took a brief coffee stop then carried on crossing Devil's Dyke Road with a wonderful view of the sea with the sun sparkling on it and continuing past Brighton & Hove golf club. Here rather than taking the descent down Monarch's Way which could have been slippery we shortened the walk by cutting back to the road and then across the Dyke golf course. No-one was playing of course and there were vast stretches of virgin snow dazzling in their brightness. Several photos were taken and then we picked up the South Downs Way again to lead us back to Summer Down. We drove up to the Dyke Inn for lunch and found masses of people enjoying themselves on sleds, toboggons and even skis. Perhaps some schools were closed and some dads just couldn't get to work!! Anyway it was lovely to see everyone making the most of a very brief wintry interlude.

Ardingly

Sunday 14 January was a perfect day for a walk and the countryside around Ardingly was the perfect place for that walk. Meeting up at Ardingly Inn carpark, twenty of us set off up the main street to find the footpath heading east that soon drops down into a pleasant valley with a small stream called Cob Brook at its bottom. Joining the High Weald Landscape Trail we climbed out of the valley and through Pickeridge Farm. As we approached we were 'mobbed' by an excessively friendly Jackdaw-like bird. It was so tame that it happily hopped in turn onto several of the walker's hands. The views south across the Weald and as far as the South Downs were very beautiful in the morning sunshine. The trail then turned Westward and dropped steeply and muddily down to cross Cob Brook again where a short coffee break was taken. Turning south off the trail and following the line of the valley, the path gently rises to emerge opposite the entrance to the Agricultural Showground. Those at the front briefly glimpsed a small herd of deer running away from us. We continued around the Showground to emerge at the church and thence by way of a precipitous woodland path to the banks of the reservoir. We found the Kingfisher trail and followed it round to the dam where we stopped briefly to admire the now full reservoir in all its glory. The final part of the walk took us through the grounds of Ardingly College, through more woodland and plenty more mud back to Ardingly village and the very welcoming Ardingly Inn. The walk was led by Graham and Hilda.

New Year Lunch walk

As has become traditional, the walk preceding the New Year Lunch was led by the Chair. This year it was held on Wednesday, 10th January. The walk, which in the early morning looked as if it might have few participants due to heavy rain, began from a lay by just south of Upper Dicker. By the start of the walk, however, the rain had ceased, leaving only a legacy of mud and surface water to negotiate and 23 members gathered. After a short uphill section of road walking, the group turned left along Sessingham Lane to reach a stile leading across fields to the Wealdway. This was followed for a short section to a bridge crossing over the Cuckmere River. From here a lane took us past Raylands Farm, through a sizable flooded area, to a footpath on the left in the direction of Mickelham. The first of several stiles was easily crossed, being the type which collapses downwards under pressure. Having continued for a while in a northeasterly direction towards Mill Wood, we made a sharp right turn, pausing briefly by a gate before reaching Primrose Farm. On leaving the farmyard, we turned right down the side of a field to Bates Green Farm, a short section of farm track and a left turn over the fields towards Arlington. Bearing right with views of the church and later the reservoir on our left, we reached Raylands Farm, from where we retraced our steps back to the cars. The group then continued onwards to the Boship Farm Hotel, meeting up with 35 others to enjoy a prearranged lunch organised by Bert.

Cootham

A party of fifteen left Lewes at nine thirty on Sunday 17 December to travel to Cootham, a small village next to Storrington in West Sussex. The weather was just perfect, the air was crisp and the sun shining and getting warmer from the start. We walked along side a small, fast flowing river for the first half mile. Although a little muddy the path soon came on to the grassy perimeter of a glider airfield. The walk continued on through mixed woodland and small lanes. A coffee break was taken sitting on top of a small hill in the warming sun shine. The walk continued in the trees until a country lane of about a mile brought us to Parham Park. This we crossed arriving back at Cootham and the Crown public house and a very good lunch of which most of the party partook. The walk was led by Martin and Brenda.

Hartfield and Pooh Sticks

Starting from the Hatch Inn at Colemans Hatch on Tuesday 12 Dec, the 13 walkers descended to the bottom of the hill and struck out across some rather water-logged fields to pick up a road which led us to Marsh Hill and the footpath leading to Pooh Sticks Bridge. We had collected our sticks as we went along so had plenty for our game of Pooh Sticks. After a fiercly fought knockout battle, Graham emerged as the winner. We left the bridge (and our childhood) behind to follow the path onto a ridge before dropping down to Gallipot Lane on the outskirts of Hartfield. Crossing the road and negotiating some awful mud , both in a farm yard and later in a wood, we finally reached the old railway line now known as Forest Way. We followed this for some way until we turned off to cross a field, follow a lane and finally find the footpath which led to Coleman Hatch Church and so back to the Hatch Inn where we had started. We were lucky with the weather which was fine except for a few spot at the end. A few stayed for an excellent lunch at the pub and the walk was led by Gordon

Ashdown Forest

Autumn has finally arrived and Ashdown Forest was looking suitably golden. The walk on the 15th November started from the Crow and Gate Pub on the A26. Sadly, three of our number were considerably delayed when their car broke down at Earwig Corner and arrived too late for the scheduled walk. The rest of the party crossed the A26 to start the walk by going down a leafy twitten which opened out on to Crowborough Golf Course. On reaching Sweethaws Road we gently ascended the hill between the fairways until we again reached the A26. Crossing over we walked along a long, straight private road between high beech hedges turning a golden yellow. At the crossroads we turned left and followed the track along the side of the valley which looked across to the huts of Crowborough Training Camp and King's Standing. Plunging down into the valley we entered some woodland where we stopped for coffee at a bridge over the stream. We puffed our way out of the valley and entered Ashdown Forest proper after crossing the B2188. Briefly, we followed the Weald Way along the course of the Roman Road before turning south onto the Vanguard Way. The views along this stretch of the walk are typical of many parts of the forest - broad and undulating (but some of the party said there is undulating and undulating and thought that HILLY would have been a better description of the walk). This final section back to the pub was certainly a bit of a grunt, as the Kiwis would say. Not forgetting the three ladies in the broken down car; they too managed to have a very pleasant walk and were already tucking into their lunch when the rest of us arrived at the pub. Eighteen (plus three) walked with Hilda in the lead who only went astray twice. The weather, as usual, was kind.

Graffham

The Group's midweek autumn tints walk took place around Graffham in West Sussex.  Starting from Lavington Common a wooded but sandy route took the party through Fitzlea Wood to Gallows Hill where, after a short but sharp climb, a coffee break was taken.  Descending through the wooded Graffham Common a tributary of the River Rother was reached and after passing through Middleheath Copse the outskirts of Graffham village were soon encountered.  Lunch was taken at the Foresters Arms before setting off through stud farm country.  Passing Calloways, Graffham Primary School and Church were soon upon us after which the route took us down part of the long drive to Seaford College before striking north through Lavington Stud Farm and Upper Norwood to return to Lavington Common.  The walkers were blessed with excellent weather and the sun made the autumn tints on the trees stand out.  At the end of the walk most of the party adjourned to the old Petworth Railway Station for tea in an ambiance that reminded them of a past era.

Around Arlington

On a dull, overcast morning twenty one of us set off from Berwick railway station heading along part of the Vanguard Way towards Stonery Farm. As we walked along, we could see the grey outline of the South Downs until the path became bordered by woodland. Proceeding westwards, we soon came to the first of three churches on the walk, at Selmeston. From the churchyard we headed northeastwards on a road through the village until just beyond Church Farm. At this point we took another footpath to walk in a northerly direction. Any mud on our boots gathered on ploughed fields was soon washed away in wet grassy meadows. It was not long before we crossed the main Eastbourne to Lewes railway line. The moist conditions underfoot also meant that the numerous stiles we tackled became very slippery and had to be crossed with care. It was not long, however, before we safely reached our second church at Ripe where we made a brief stop. Refreshed, we then headed southeastwards towards Chalvington and our third church, still with distant views of the South Downs. Having reached another Church Farm, we then headed southwestwards along a bridleway until we briefly joined Langtyre Lane. We walked along the road until we were once again able to join the Vanguard Way which took us all the way back to Berwick via Mays and Ludlay Farms. We had covered a distance of about six miles. The walk was led by Graham and Jill.

Around Burgess Hill

Time precluded walking all around Burgess Hill on Sunday 8th October but we did cut through the outer edge of the blossoming housing estates. We began at the Royal Oak near Wivelsfield heading west towards Great Ote Hall, an impressively old looking pile, we then turned south and continued through the gentle and undemanding countryside of the Low Weald towards the outskirts of Burgess Hill. There were still a few blackberries to be found that had not been tainted by the devil and lots of toadstools, none of which looked edible to me. When the new houses were built, the bridleway running south east was enclosed by fences but the trees and bushes soften the path and it is possible to talk one's way through the entire length and not notice the trappings of civilisation, apart from the pedestrian crossing across the railway line to Lewes where, very sensibly, we were advised to look and listen carefully. For a short distance we walked by the Brighton Line, which is in a deep cutting but still manages to be rather noisy, before turning out into an open field with many benches perfectly placed for a coffee stop and with an added bonus of wide views of the South Downs. Striking east, we passed the smartest looking water tower I have ever seen and meandered through more pleasant farming country, over the Lewes Line before joining up with the Sussex Border Path through West Wood towards Wivelsfield and the pub for lunch. Hilda led the walk. Over twenty walkers walked and the weather was kind.

Peaslake to Ewhurst

On Sunday, 24th September twelve members met in Lewes on a grey morning to drive to the village of Peaslake in Surrey via A27, A23, A272, A24 and B2126 and B2127, a journey which takes about one and a quarter hours. Several other walking and cycling groups were assembling in the centre of the village and it took a few minutes to join with two of our members who met us there before we made our way past the church and churchyard following a sandy path through the fir trees and heather of Hurtwood towards Pitch Hill. We stopped here for a coffee break and to admire the views towards the South Downs. By now the sun was shining as we walked down the hill towards Ewhurst. We arrived in time for lunch on the village green. In the afternoon we walked across open fields, climbed back up the hill, through Hurtwood returning to Peaslake where some members stopped for tea. The distance was approximately eight miles, mostly on local footpaths or the Green Sand Way. It was steep and slippery in places but very peaceful and scenic and everyone enjoyed a good day out. The walk was led by Brenda and Martin

Barcombe Mills - Isfield Cicular

Not everyone was in France on the Group 's trip to Dieppe on the 20th Septamber. Sixteen walkers met up at the Laughing Fish in Isfield on a very pleasant morning. We left Isfield on the path to White Bridge which we crossed and then turned upstream joining the Ouse Valley Way for a distance of half a kilometre. Turning south down Dallas Lane we soon entered some pleasant woodland which was clearly being well managed with plantations of young mixed deciduous trees and piles of logs besides the track as evidence of recent tree felling. On reaching Clay Corner we crossed a stile which took us into a field where we stopped for a coffee break beside the Bevern Stream. Walking down stream we skirted the reservoir, crossed Red Bridge and found our way up to Camoys Court Farm . Barcombe Mills was reached after crossing the old railway line. The track passed Barcombe House took us to the Anchor Inn where we left the River Ouse across fields back to Isfield where we had a pleasant alfresco lunch at the Laughing Fish. The weather was perfect and we hope that the walkers in Dieppe were similarly blessed. The walk was led by Hilda

Chiddingly

On Sunday 10 September, 21 members and a dog set off from Chiddingly Church for a six and a half mile undulating walk. led by Hazel Freeman, from Chiddingly to Hellingly and back. The weather was humid and hot - in the high 70s - with a clear blue sky and minimal breeze. We began at a brisk pace before the heat of the day slowed us down. Our route took us through the churchyard and along footpaths and country lanes south east to Pekes Farm (now partly converted to light industrial use). Across ploughed fields and rough pasture, we reached our planned first coffee break in the shade of some trees. Unfortunately a very large and enthusiastic horse decided to share in our refreshments, so we retreated over a stile, only to be confronted by the noise and dust of a motor cycle dirt track race. A marshall halted proceedings to allow us to cross the circuit and continue round Broad Farm to the busy A267.

Opposite, through a rusty gate, we followed a path towards Hellingly, and found ourselves in the midst of the 10 km Hellingly road race; many competitors had already received their medals and were making for home. At Hellingly Church, the Wealdway joined us from the right as we climbed the lane past the church, making encouraging noises to the tailenders of the runners going in the opposite direction.

Recrossing the A267 we followed the clearly signed Wealdway, making a second coffee stop in a leafy glade near Leabridge Farm. Then through the very welcome deep shade of Westenden Wood. On emerging from the wood, the path climbed gently round a copse and NW across fields. Here in the heat we were glad to feast on plentiful sweet blackberries. We continued along the track past Rock Harbour Farm then followed a lane to Gatehouse Farm, where we turned right over a stile - the only one to have a dedicated dog gate. The stone spire of Chiddingly Church came briefly into view, before we made our way down through a wood and then gently uphill to a lane. We crossed over and followed well-trodden paths across fields and paddocks, one occupied by a miniature pony and colt, until we reached the Church and car park. Several of us stayed for a tasty lunch at the Six Bells pub, where we were entertained by a live jazz band.

Bishopstone

On 27th August, 21 members and a dog left Bishopstone station road and headed towards Bishopstone church and village, from where we made our way to a ridge on the hills with pleasant views across farmland. After climbing for a while we reached our coffee stop with views of Friston forest inland and Seaford Head behind us. It was a perfect day for walking, the sun shone, there were beautiful cloud formations and a gentle, refreshing wind. Whilst enjoying our coffee stop a cheerful group of Pathfinders went by. We continued downhill to Devils Bottom , passed through the tiny hamlet of Norton and climbed to Rookery Hill where we paused awhile to enjoy the views out to sea and towards Newhaven harbour. We then dropped down through an avenue of trees and made our way back to the start of the walk.

When we first walked it out in May, the hills were vibrant with fields of yellow rape-seed which was a lovely contrast against the blue of the sea. Today, the same hills were golden where harvesting had taken place and looked just as lovely against the sea and the sky. A restful feeling that work on the land had been done. Blackberries, sloes and elderberries appeared to be plentiful and a mention of sloe gin was heard, so a few may have been picked. Some people were mushroom hunting but not many were found. The walk was about 6 miles long, undulating and slightly steep in places but it was taken at a gentle pace.

After the walk some members picnicked in the Salts recreation ground as Seaford as the onshore wind was a bit too strong to picnic comfortably on the beach. John and Jean Woollard led the walk

Stanmer and Ditchling Beacon

On Sunday 13 August a small number of intrepid walkers (five plus a dog) set out from Stanmer Park Village to walk to Ditchling Beacon and back. The walk was five miles long and undulating but with a steady climb to the beacon. Had the walk been in November, the weather would have been as expected but the persistent showers were not what was expected for August (and this August in particular). Refreshments were available at the end of the walk at the tea room in Stanmer Park. Diana led the walk

Blackboys evening walk

On a fine summer evening 27 of us set out for a 4.5 mile walk along paths and country lanes. We set off from Balckboys Inn, crossing the road to enter the woods. After a short space of time we came to the willow sculptures of pigs (or are they wild boar?). Descending steps we turned left onto Hollow Lane to pick up a wide green lane on our right. Turning right at the end we walked down the road to pick up the Weald Way. An overgrown bush caused some difficulty but a strong stick held it back and all were able to pass. Leaving the Weald Way we turned left to come to a stile in a very bad state; a few climbed the stile but most got over the gate which itself was not easy. We picked up the Vanguard Way and then via a lane walked down the green lane in the other direction turning right at the end to follow tracks and paths back to the woods opposite the pub. All but one stayed for supper before heading for home. Gordon and Eileen led the walk.

Framfield

On Sunday 30th July a 5 mile walk around Framfield, led by Rosemary Burnett, was enjoyed by 25 members, a good turn-out after the hot weather we have been experiencing. It was a perfect day with a few clouds around and and a nice breeze making it very pleasant to walk. Quite a lot of the walk was along The Wealdway with mostly well maintained stiles and passing through several shady woods. In the meadows butterflies of different varieties were spotted and lovely views in the distance, making it most enjoyable. After a while we came upon a place called "Tickerage Mill" where a coffee break was taken looking down a bank to a most beautifil old cottage. Afterwards we continued along The Wealdway through bracken higher than most of us, thinking that this is a good way of keeping a path open as it was very overgrown, passing a delightful bungalow on our right at the end of this path out to a lane. A few more meadows were walked then we came to a wide grassy area through parkland which had been replanted since the hurricane in 1987 now well established to open up by Newplace Farm, a beautiful old timbered house with a large ornamental lake. After a while we came to a wooded area which had been boarded for wet weather, no chance of mud today as everywhere was bone dry. Soon the spire of Framfield church came into view and we were back to the start of the walk at the Hare and Hounds pub where the majority of the party enjoyed a very good lunch.

Eridge

On a hot summer day, 10 of us set off from the railway station at Eridge for a five and a half mile, circular walk taking in Groombridge and Harrison's Rocks. Following Forge Road for a short distance we turned off to follow a bridleway. Turning right across a newly made bridge we crossed fields of oats and beans before dropping down to a stream. Now we skirted woods which gave us shade. We stopped for a break in sight of Groombridge and proceeded on under the railway line to enter the village. At the school we joined the High Weald Walk, crossing a railway bridge over the Spa Valley Railway. After a while it was into woods again for welcome shade and cooler walking. We entered Harrison's Rock and saw a class for youngsters going on as well as a few more experienced climbers. Leaving the rocks area we dropped down to cross the main railway line and pick up Forge Road again to return to the start. A very enjoyable lunch was taken at the Huntsman pub before returning to Lewes. The walk was led by Gordon and Eileen.

West Chiltington and Westerham

Despite the recent hot weather Lewes Footpaths Group has maintained its advertised walks programme albeit that reduced numbers have actually taken part. These two walks took place in the same week. A half day midweek saunter around West Chiltingtron was made particularly enjoyable by all those taking part having some form of refreshment afterwards at the Elephant and Castle Inn. On the following Sunday a good part of the seven mile walk south of Westerham took place in woodland which provided respite from the sun. This walk passed alongside Chartwell and before reaching Crockham Hill some excellent views southward towards the Ashdown Forest were obtained. Later on, having had a picnic lunch and passed over the greensand ridge, good views were obtained of the North Downs and it was particularly pleasing to note that the M25 was visually unobtrusive although the noise from its traffic could be heard. After walking through Westerham the party returned to their cars and then decided to make for a tea room to round off a day which had been sufficiently enjoyed that a request was made to repeat the walk some time in the future.

North Hartfield

Sunday 2nd June and the weather was blisteringly hot. Two "mad dogs of an English man" with five women and a visitor from Europe, well protected with anti-sun creams and wearing an assortment of hats and carrying plenty of water, ventured forth from St.Ives Farm Tea Gardens, for a four and half mile walk north of Hartfield. The leader, Grace Blacker, carried a parasol. Some of the foot paths led through fields of thigh high blue/green corn and golden/green long eared barley giving the countryside swathes of spectacular colour. Some of us older walkers remembered our childhood when wheat was shoulder high and we used to play in the stooks. Other footpaths went through hay meadows that had not been cut and set aside fields which were rich in wild flowers, thistles and mallows with scarlet pimpernels in the bare patches and where the ground was damper, meadow sweet grew. As we walked butterflies that had been among the grasses rose in great numbers but were never still enough for anyone to confidently identify. Often the paths would dip to cross a stream in a wooded hollow and there we would linger and cool off in the shade. Many of these streams had been dammed to provide a head of water for hammer ponds. To the north of us was Hammerwood Park and the Ordinance Survey map shows the where abouts of Pond Bars and the ponds that remain. The names in the district also retain traces of the industrial past; Cansiron Lane, Marlpit Shaw, Pollard Wood and Paupersdale Wood. We met several other groups out to enjoy the sun, campers and fisherman near the start, other walkers, families and cyclists enjoying the breeze as they sped downhill necessitating our leader to brandish her parasol to warn of our presence. In one clearing we met a group of model aircraft enthusiasts and watched the small planes doing loop the loop. There were several cool welcome woods where we rested and we took much longer than usual so as not to suffer heat exhaustion; and when we arrived back at the tea rooms we were ready for liquid refreshment after what had been a superb summer walk.

Waterhall - around the Downs

Wednesday 's walk, led by Janet, took us over the downs to the north of Brighton. We started off from Braypool where we were serenaded by barking dogs from the RSPCA centre while we changed into our boots! Then we crossed the noisy A23 by footbridge and followed the long gentle climb along the Sussex Border Path. It was amazing how quickly we lost all the sounds of the busy road below us. We continued our route along paths and grassy tracks with wonderful views on either side. At one point half a dozen sheep who had escaped from their field ran ahead of us on an enclosed track until we reached a gate barring their way. We all stood to one side and they galloped back down the track. We took a coffee break looking down on Pyecombe, with glimpses of Jack & Jill windmills across the valley to our right, then descended to cross a bridge over the A23 and turned right to follow a path into Pyecombe. We passed the church then turned left and carried on along a wooded track, then turned right over a stile and crossed a field full of horses. We turned right again and soon reached our crossing point on the A273. We followed the access drive to Pycombe Golf Course opposite and then a track which climbed steadily up onto the downs. A right turn took us along a bridleway down into a valley and up the other side We continued with a left turn then followed our route out onto an unfenced strip of high downland. Our path then descended gently and we soon found ourselves at the Chattri, a memorial to Indian soldiers who died in the First World War, a delightful and peaceful spot for our picnic lunch before returning to our cars. The weather had been perfect for walking, sunny but not too hot with a gentle breeze.

Breakfast walk. Glynde to Lewes

Twenty eight members of the Group made an early start on Wednesday, 14th June. The majority assembled at Lewes railway station to catch the 6.30am train to Glynde, where they met up with others to begin the walk back to Lewes. Proceeding over the bridge and left past the village shop, a stile was climbed before beginning the long, steady ascent. At the top a decision was made to take a slight diversion onto Mount Caburn to admire the view and wonder at the amount of traffic below on the A27 so early in the morning. The skies were looking increasingly menacing – a disappointment after the recent spell of lovely weather – and it was soon time to don waterproofs as the rain began. Fortunately, it was not too heavy and did not last for long. From Caburn the route led down into Bible Bottom before climbing once more to reach the golf club at the top of Chapel Hill. Then it was a downhill stroll, by way of Cliffe High Street, for a tasty and speedily served breakfast at Bill's. The walk was led by Graham and Jill King.

Mark Cross

A group of 22 walkers set off from Mark Cross, which is deep in the High Weald to the north of Mayfield, on a bright sunny morning. This circular walk benefits from East Sussex County Council's Paths to Prosperity initiative which has resulted in new signposts, as well as the opening up of a woodland path which was previously obstructed and unusable for many years.

Leaving the car park we headed southwards through a gate where we found the first of many new footpath signs. Starting high on a ridge we dropped gently downhill to explore the valleys formed by the Tide Brook and its minor tributary streams which gather to flow eastwards into the Eastern Rother River. Passing through the buildings at Renhurst Farm we came to a road which we followed south eastwards for a short distance. From here we got a good view of Mayfield across some of the very attractive woodland. Soon we came to Little Trodgers Oast where we left the road heading north eastwards. This proved to be one of several old attractive converted oasts we would pass.

Passing through the edge of Rocks Wood, where we saw some of the last of this year's Bluebells, we then wended our way eastwards along the south side of the Tide Brook valley. Eventually we crossed the brook heading south eastwards towards Towngate Farm along the north side of the valley. Leaving the valley we then climbed gently northwards, to the east of Badgers Hill until we reached the vicinity of Bensfield Farm. At this point we started on our return journey to Mark Cross crossing through many gates and stiles. Heading north westwards we passed another converted oast before we came into open countryside with views across the valley, on the left, of the out-going route, as well as more distant views.

Continuing in the same direction we shortly crossed a south facing slope which until recently was a vineyard. Soon after this we then passed through part of Sandyden Wood which is the area where the path has been reinstated by the county council. Having left the wood we soon crossed the B2100 before reaching the outskirts of Mark Cross where we passed a converted tower mill. Heading southwards we soon reached our starting point passing the recently refurbished Mark Cross Inn. The walk was led by Jill and Graham King.

Wineham

Sunday 7th May saw members of the Lewes Footpaths Group eagerly setting off for Wineham, West Sussex, where, with the permission of the landlord, Tim Peacock, they parked at The Royal Oak; their destination was Shermanbury. This was to be a gentle walk, on a May morning, in English countryside at is its best. The trail went through lush meadows, rich in spring flowers including the Early Spotted Orchid, through mixed woodlands with the black thorn, apple and cherry trees in blossom and the blue bells beginning to colour, past interesting farms and barns in the area of the River Adur. There was much other water besides - lakes, streams, ponds and moats.

The previous day there had been heavy rain but the mud was passable and some of the going was on old hard parkland tracks and lanes. In woodland, we found two large fallen trees which accommodated all twenty walkers for their morning break and a photo opportunity.

The earliest written record of Shermanbury is in the Domesday Book. The area has the feel of a very ancient place; the old decaying coach house and the large old trees and charming little church of St. Giles which probably dates back to Saxon times. The monthly service was in progress as we passed and we walked on through a small path to look at the gateway of Ewhurst Place, once an ancient manor, the moat was still full of water. The last part of the walk was alongside the slow flowing River Adur, so different from the tidal Ouse of our previous walk. A large yellow notice warned walkers to keep clear of the river banks which were in danger of slipping so we kept well away crossing by a pumping station foot bridge. We retraced our footsteps through the woodland as equally enjoyable from a different perspective especially with the cuckoo singing

Lewes to Newhaven

An enthusiastic group of around 20 set off last week with the intention of having a linear walk from Lewes to Newhaven independent of the car and using regular public transport back of either train or bus (some with their free bus passes). The walk was to simply follow our somewhat recreationally neglected but picturesque asset, the River Ouse over its six or seven miles to have lunch at Denton. We welcomed several newcomers and Sam, a new dog member. Peggy, a regular member, couldn't wait to plunge in after thrown bits of wood. Peggy is another dog, by the way. At the outset the river was sedately meandering through its broad curves but the flood-tide was on the turn to gradually become a surprisingly strong flood current; and there was a constant reminder of our delightful Downs as they first receded and then closed in on us as we neared Newhaven. The forecast had actually got it right for once and it was a lovely fresh but warm spring day: groups of spring flowers here and there, and sheep never far away with their frisky young lambs pausing to try to work out what these strange slow-moving two-legged animals could be doing. Others wondered too. Some bird-watchers were with us - coming north for the summer - hurrahing at the herons and egging on the egrets who had arrived on the banks to see what the fresh tide was bringing up. We all were impressed, though, as we were favoured by a six-strong flock of swans flapping their way majestically past us on what was quite a long flight for a swan. A leftover of when the Ouse was a working river was an old jetty to which cement was brought across the A26 on overhead pylons to the waiting boats from the Downs cement factory half a mile away . Finally, we left the river to go over to the blossoming gastro-pub at Denton, The Flying Fish. We set outside in the garden with a glasses of wine and scrumptious creamy pancakes of smoked haddock and asparagus. Spring had really sprung.

Firle to Charleston Farmhouse

Fourteen of us defied the weather forecast and set off from Firle Village Carpark heading south towards the old Coach Road. Soon we were on a path leading up to the top of the hill where we joined the South Downs Way. In spite of the low clouds we were able to see Newhaven and the arrival of the ferry. Northwards was a little less clear, but we could see as far as Arlington Reservoir which looked reassuringly full. The warm weather of the last week has impelled the trees into bud and the spring flowers, including cowslips, were in evidence. The Blackthorn was looking particularly beautiful. We stopped for our coffee break at Firle Beacon where we found a comfy hollow which sheltered us from the chilly breeze coming from the North. We made our descent a little further on and followed the track towards Charleston Farmhouse. By this time, the rain had turned from a mizzle to a drizzle and every so often worked itself up to a proper shower. As we approached Firle Place a cuckoo was heard and the newborn lambs in the park proved that Spring is here at last. Back in Firle Village some of the walkers were pleased to buy fresh watercress from a local gardener that promised a particularly peppery taste. A good walk of approximately 5 miles with pleasant scenery, congenial companions and a chance to catch up on the gossip. Could there be a better way to spend a Sunday

Firle to Charleston Farmhouse

Fourteen of us defied the weather forecast and set off from Firle Village Carpark heading south towards the old Coach Road. Soon we were on a path leading up to the top of the hill where we joined the South Downs Way. In spite of the low clouds we were able to see Newhaven and the arrival of the ferry. Northwards was a little less clear, but we could see as far as Arlington Reservoir which looked reassuringly full. The warm weather of the last week has impelled the trees into bud and the spring flowers, including cowslips, were in evidence. The Blackthorn was looking particularly beautiful. We stopped for our coffee break at Firle Beacon where we found a comfy hollow which sheltered us from the chilly breeze coming from the North. We made our descent a little further on and followed the track towards Charleston Farmhouse. By this time, the rain had turned from a mizzle to a drizzle and every so often worked itself up to a proper shower. As we approached Firle Place a cuckoo was heard and the newborn lambs in the park proved that Spring is here at last. Back in Firle Village some of the walkers were pleased to buy fresh watercress from a local gardener that promised a particularly peppery taste. A good walk of approximately 5 miles with pleasant scenery, congenial companions and a chance to catch up on the gossip. Could there be a better way to spend a Sunday

Hurstpierpoint

In what one might call the first of the Spring days, 35 walkers assembled in Hurstpierpoint car par for an Easter Bank Holiday walk. Soon we were off the road and along paths behind houses with south facing gardens and a wonderful view of the Downs. The daffodils were out to greet us and in a ditch we saw the pink of milkmaids. Passing another group of walkers having their coffee stop, we headed straight towards the Downs and some thought we were going to ascend to the top but once inside the National Trust area a turn to the right brought us onto a path which ran along the foot of the Downs. The mud underfoot was a challenge in places but everybody kept their feet. In places the white wood anemones made a carpet under the trees and some of the larger trees, chestnut and ash, were in bud and the birds were singing. making one feel that Spring had arrived. Once we left the National Trust area, we were across field, passing Danny House in the sunshine and so back to the start. A number went to the Friars Oak in Hassocks for an enjoyable lunch. The walk was led by Keith.

West Hoathly

On Sunday 9th April, some 20 people and two dogs set out from West Hoathly in warm Spring sunshine to walk through Forestry Commission woods around the Gravetye Estate. Early in the walk we saw a steam train on the Bluebell line off to our right but no signs of bluebells. The paths through the woods were mostly sound but odd patches of mud made the going difficult. It was noticeable that the trees and flowers were yet to show that Spring had come but there were a few wild daffodils and primroses in places. There were signs of deer through the woods but no sightings. A coffee stop was taken overlooking the gardens of Gravetye Manor and later a wonderful view of the ancient building, with daffodils in abundance in the field in front of it caused us all to stop and admire the view. Our return brought us back through the charming village of West Hoathly before returning to the car park in warm sunshine. The walk was led by Colin.


Chiddingfold

Despite the weather forecast members of Lewes Footpaths Group undertook a walk in south west Surrey on Sunday. In fact the weather was not as bad as predicted and it was not until they had had their picnic lunch that wet weather clothing was donned, and even then the rain was more akin to a low cloud than heavy continuous rain.

Starting from the picturesque village of Chiddingfold, with its large village green, the walkers climbed up to the appropriately named "The Downs" where there should have been good views of the South Downs. They then proceeded through Pook Hill and the grounds of Coombe Court to Ten Acre Wood having first negotiated the somewhat slippery paths in Hopkins Reeds. Climbing up from here on to the greensand ridge at Sandhills, lunch was taken at an idyllic spot with good views to the south. The walk then descended past Witley railway station and the Coombe Lane industrial estate to pass through Noddings Farm and Hartsgrove Hanger before returning to the environs of Chiddingfold. During the walk it was good to see the various bulbs that have started blooming as well as a variety of wild life. It was also good to have a walk away from the normal Sussex area and appreciate the countryside as well as the affluence of leafy Surrey.


All the Deans from Woddingdean

Tuesday, 2 March, saw a resolute group of walkers set off from the historic Lewes to Brighthelmstone Drove Road at Woodingdean for a morning walk among some Sussex Deans known to be amongst the most scenic ridges and 'bottoms' of the Downs. The forecast was rain, p.m., sweeping in from the west, and, sure enough, in it swept, a.m., just before the walk started to quickly become a heavy downfall for the rest of the day. Descending into the bucolic bowl of Standean Bottom one could picture the one-time Balsdean Village that had nestled there for centuries. It had gradually become more deserted, and was just the spot, thought the MoD, for some target practice in WW2. No shell holes now, but a mean grouping of very large badger setts; and the rustic charm of lambing sheep with almost kitten-sized lambs of various hues fenced off from the rest of the flock. Out of the valley then up to Balsdean Resevoir, and over the ridge to a point above Saltdean, before peeling off west down to Rottingdean and a rather tempestuous sea. The White Horse Hotel had kindly reserved a nicely-laid long table for us: warm fare washed down with a welcome wine or two and people were quickly saying 'rain, what rain?'


Heathfield

On Sunday 26th February the so cold easterly wind did not deter 19 hardy walkers enjoying the pleasant countryside south of Heathfield. The walk began at Vines Cross. A lane beside the corrugated iron chapel led us to some muddy building works at Hook Farm followed by open fields to Maynard's Green. Joining the Cuckoo Trail, we turned north towards Heathfield and enjoyed the easy walking and lovely views afforded by the disused railway line. After a kilometre we turned off the trail eastward towards Old Heathfield, negotiated a narrow path that was really a muddy stream and found some welcome protection from the biting wind for the necessary coffee break. The surprise decent of a wooden stick caused both consternation and amusement but Poppy, the dog, soon took control of the offending missile. The church spire at Old Heathfield provided the marker for the next leg of the walk. The village was approached along a road running beside the stone wall surrounding Heathfield Park. It was good to see the care taken over the rebuilding of parts of the wall. Slightly off putting was the notice warning of Guard Dogs!. The owners clearly value their privacy. Turning south from Old Heathfield we meandered our way across the undulating countryside back to Vines Cross and for those who stayed, the welcome warmth of the Brewers Arms pub, who kindly let us use their car park. Bracing is the appropriate word.

Kingston

The walk undertaken on Wednesday, February 22nd was Walk 5 from the book Favourite walks in and around Lewes. Kingston circular is the favourite of Jill and Graham who led the walk. Having finally assembled by Southover Church 14 of us set off, on a dull rainy morning, south westwards towards Kingston. Passing the Swan Inn we took the minor Juggs Road to a bridge over the by-pass. Unfortunately it was quite misty but we could see the views to the middle distance. As soon as we left the metalled road for a track it became apparent that it was going to be quite muddy in the rain. Crossing the main road into Kingston we then walked past houses in Kingstonridge and saw early spring flowers bursting into bloom. Soon we were out on the downs climbing up the steepest part of the walk towards the South Downs Way where it was possible to see the rest of our route back into Lewes. For the short part of the walk along the South Downs Way the wind blowing from the north east made it very cold until we reached Dencher Road. Descending towards Swanborough the views were extensive despite the weather. On the east side of the main road to Newhaven we soon headed northwards back to Lewes skirting around the edge of the flood plain of the River Ouse. From here it was possible to see the route we had taken up on the downs. The final leg of the walk along the south bank of the Cockshut Stream was by far the muddiest and the rain felt the heaviest.

Windmill Hill

Members met in Lewes and travelled to Herstmonceux church where we were joined by other people making a total of sixteen who set off in the rain from the church towards Windmill Hill through the woods. We entered open country with a view of Herstmonceux Place, walked up the hill and turned right at Comphurst. We followed the path across another field and into more woods where there was a lake and two rows of very old trees which were once a drive to Herstmonceux castle. We stopped for a tea break underneath some fir trees for the best shelter available and thus refreshed we carried on through these very pleasant woods. After a short road walk we turned into Watling wood, a wood of birch, beech and holly. Crossing another road we followed the path adjacent to Hurstmonceux castle grounds, passing the domes of the old Observatory and the Castle itself until we reached the car park at the church. The walk took place in light rain, wet underfoot but not too muddy. Some of the party were glad to reach the warmth of the Horseshoe Inn at Windmill Hill where we had an excellent roast lunch and sat in comfort watching the rain by now pouring down outside.

Small Dole

Our walk on Wednesday 8 February started from Small Dole. 21 of us (including two new first timers) set off, in the first sunshine we had seen for many days, along the woodland trail (which has wheelchair access) through Tottington Wood and continuing through Longlands Woods. Coming out into the open we proceeded with views of Truleigh Hill & the South Downs Way up on our right, then at Edburton turned left and continued along a track through Edburton Sands and past Lower Edburton barn where we stopped for coffee, two rusty, discarded rollers providing convenient seating. We carried on over several stiles across farmland until we reached Horn Lane which we crossed then continued around and across a small private golf course, then over Oreham common and back across Horn Lane. Our route then took us along a metalled track with scattered housing until we turned right at Little Oreham Farm. We continued towards South Tottingham Sands where were obliged to duck under a wire fence across the footpath before turning right and following the track back to Small Dole.11 of us enjoyed a very good lunch at the Fox public house.

South Downs above Alfriston

Our recent walk on the Downs around Alfriston and Litlington, climbed up High and Over to provide very good views of the meandering Cuckmere on this beautifully sunny and clear day. We crossed the road to Cradle Hill through a couple of fields providing wide open views across towards Newhaven. Going down the side of a valley into a hollow, we took advantage of the sun and shelter for a coffee break. Our second major climb of the walk was long but sheltered by a hedge line and as always the views at the top made this all worth while - across the Cuckmere Valley and the rolling hills down to the coast. Here a biting wind took hold as we sped on to a sheltered, shady and very pretty path down to Alfriston with Alfriston church becoming more visible as we came down the hill. We crossed the Tye, past the picturesque church, crossing over the bridge to walk back down the river - a leisurely flat stroll along the river bank past the church and the clergy house on the opposite bank - until we arrived at the turn off the path for Litlington.

Horam and the Cuckoo trail

Horam was the starting point for the Tuesday walk on January 24 led by Jeannette Swayne. It was only a few steps from Horam High Street before we emerged onto the Cuckoo Line, not for a train ride as in the past, but for a beautiful wintry morning's walk. It was very cold but the sun glinted through leaves and branches outlined in frost. We went south on the trail for a while before turning left and going through the old brickworks to Norah Corner. Here we followed the road to Marle Green and then across beautiful countryside and apple orchards until Maynards Green was reached. Crossing the road here, we were soon back onto the Cuckoo Trail again which we followed back to Horam. 20 people enjoyed this bracing walk on a very cold day.

Plumpton-Streat circular

This walk, Bert's favourite, taken from our new publication Favourite Walks in and Around Lewes, was our walk on Sunday 15 January led by Graham and Hilda Heap. Starting form the Half Moon on the Plumpton road we took an uphill path to the top of the Downs where we joined the Sussex Downs Way for a stretch before descending on a path which passed just above the V shaped plantation, planted in 1897 for Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. After re-crossing the Plumpton road we passed Middleton Manor and into the woods. We commented on no signs of spring as yet, but still tightly bunched catkins were seen together with a splash of colour provided by the star-shaped seed pods of Iris foetidissma, commonly called Stinking Iris. Beautiful birdsong accompanied us as we splashed through the woods until emerging into fields. We soon reached Streat church and took an ancient road through the old village which continued past Plumpton race course and then on to East Chiltington. From here we followed paths to Novington Manor and then fields where we saw wild deer with distinctive white rumps, before arriving back at the Half Moon.

Our last two muddy walks have taken place without a glimmer of the sun breaking through, yet walking with friends, fresh air and beautiful scenery still has the power to lift the spirits and give a wonderful sense of well-being. Our walk around Scaynes Hill, led by Jill and Graham King, had the advantage of finishing with our new year's lunch. 17 people enjoyed a walk before lunch which followed paths south of the A272 and a section of the Sussex Border Path which divides East and West Sussex. When we arrived back at The Farmers at Scaynes Hill we were joined by many other members and all sat down to a splendid meal arranged for us by Bert Sharp.

Glynde

On New Year's day we started from Glynde and approached Mount Caburn from a different angle to our walk the week before (see below) with a long climb from the path opposite the Post Office to the crest of the hill. The it was down to Oxteddle bottom where we were surprised to see three beautiful goats with their very own trailer, perhaps on holiday! We took our coffee break near to the golf club where mince pies, following traditional, were distributed by our leader, Keith Dance. Then it was across the hills to Saxon Cross followed by the downhill path back to Glynde where we enjoyed a good meal at the Trevor Arms. A wonderful start to the New Year.

Mount Caburn

On 27th December, Colin Salvage led 18 walkers from Lewes up to the summit of Mount Caburn by way of Chapel Hill and Oxteddle Bottom. The walk is Colin's favourite walk and taken from our recent walks booklet - Favourite Walks in and around Lewes. After a coffee break at Caburn, the party turned for Saxon Cross to be greeted by a sudden snow storm and biting wind. These hills seem dangerously wild and remote at times like this but with Colin's leadership Saxon Cross was safely passed and then it was on to the golf course and back to Lewes

Ardinglly

On our last Wednesday walk before Christmas, Eddie Gibbs led a six mile walk starting at the Ardingly Showground. Walking via Ardingly reservoir we reached Balcombe viaduct with its 37 arches. This is one of the longest viaducts in the country and was formed with 11 million bricks into perfect geometrical curves. 150 years on this still carries a major railway, a monument to English skill and flair. From here we took a circular route back to the showground. 13 members enjoyed this interesting walk making the most of the late Autumn colours.

Firle

On our last Sunday walk before Christmas, it was a beautiful cold frosty day with a clear blue sky and every puddle filled with thick ice, an ideal morning for a December walk. Martin and Brenda Keogh led the five mile walk which started from Firle and followed the old coach road to Alciston, passing an isolated cottage along the way where we stopped to admire their unusual door garlands made of foliage with red chillies, limes and berries. We stopped at the Millennium seat at Alciston for coffee where we were serenaded with carols by Martin on his harmonica. Walking through Alciston we admired the huge Tithe Barn once owned by the monks of Battle Abbey and the remains of a medieval dovecote and nearby duck pond which was once a fishpond for the monks. From Alciston we made our way across the fields to Charleston Farmhouse where we took advantage of the public loos, complete with hot water and soap and decorated with beautiful Charleston type tiles. As we approached Firle Park we saw the Southdown Hunt leaving, compete with hounds as usual. An idyllic winter walk enjoyed by all.

Jevington

It is always a joy to walk from Jevington, for whichever direction you go, you know you will be amidst beautiful downland scenery. Even on the wettest of mornings, the lure of Jevington was enough to bring fourteen people out on our latest Sunday morning walk. This time we left Jevington in an easterly direction and climbed steadily to the top of the hills from where we had a view of Eastbourne, Pevensey and the sea. After sheltering from the rain amongst a clump of trees we decided to head back towards Butts Brow and along the top of the escarpment looking down onto Willingdon and then taking the gradual descent to Jevington. A bracing but enjoyable walk on a wet day led by Sue Weeks.

Berwick

The morning walk on 20 November started badly, when, after leaving the Barley Mow car park at Selmeston, a walker fell and cut his head badly and had to be taken to hospital. Eventually the party set off again, with the ground white with frost and swathes of mist clinging to the valleys. Leaving the A27 a path was taken through a wood-cutter's yard and was followed south to Alciston village street. After quite a search, a stile was found in a twitten between two cottages which led from the street and out across fields to Berwick church. As the Sunday morning service was taking place, we couldn't this time pause and take a look at the lovely 20th century Bloomsbury murals. Instead we made our way around cattle barns and down to New Barn where, sheltered by bales of hay, a coffee stop was taken.

We then followed the Old Coach Road, now a rough stony track and hard of the feet, back to Alciston and then on to Tilton and Charleston farms where we found mud in abundance. Sarah Walton's pottery was the next landmark and turning north we retraced our steps through the wood yard and back to the Barley Mow, where many of us enjoyed their warm hospitality.

Thanks must go to the members who assisted with the accident and helped with the walk. We were pleased to hear that although the casuality had eight stitches in the wound, he was recovering well at home the next day.

Laughton

On Wednesday 16 November, our mid-week walk was a six mile circular walk at Laughton and led by Roy. On a beautiful crisp clear morning we left the Roebuck Inn and took a path north which brought us out at the lovely pond at the entrance to Brickhurst Wood. The deciduous trees were still a picture with their leaves in their changing autumn colours, still valiantly holding on before the frosts. Leaving the wood we reached Common Lane and then took a bridleway, skirting Longfield Wood and then crossing the Ringmer to Laughton road and finding a path opposite which eventually brought us out at Laughton Tower with its moat, which is all that remains now of Laughton Place. After a coffee stop it was over the fields, eventually emerging from Black Shaw into the lovely churchyard of All Saints, Laughton, the church being a legacy of the Pelham family. We then followed the country lane back to the Roebuck Inn where the staff coped admirably with a coach party as well as ourselves. A very enjoyable late autumn walk.

Berwick

The morning walk on 20 November started badly, when, after leaving the Barley Mow car park at Selmeston, a walker fell and cut his head badly and had to be taken to hospital. Eventually the party set off again, with the ground white with frost and swathes of mist clinging to the valleys. Leaving the A27 a path was taken through a wood-cutter's yard and was followed south to Alciston village street. After quite a search, a stile was found in a twitten between two cottages which led from the street and out across fields to Berwick church. As the Sunday morning service was taking place, we couldn't this time pause and take a look at the lovely 20th century Bloomsbury murals. Instead we made our way around cattle barns and down to New Barn where, sheltered by bales of hay, a coffee stop was taken.

We then followed the Old Coach Road, now a rough stony track and hard of the feet, back to Alciston and then on to Tilton and Charleston farms where we found mud in abundance. Sarah Walton's pottery was the next landmark and turning north we retraced our steps through the wood yard and back to the Barley Mow, where many of us enjoyed their warm hospitality.

Thanks must go to the members who assisted with the accident and helped with the walk. We were pleased to hear that although the casuality had eight stitches in the wound, he was recovering well at home the next day.

Laughton

On Wednesday 16 November, our mid-week walk was a six mile circular walk at Laughton and led by Roy. On a beautiful crisp clear morning we left the Roebuck Inn and took a path north which brought us out at the lovely pond at the entrance to Brickhurst Wood. The deciduous trees were still a picture with their leaves in their changing autumn colours, still valiantly holding on before the frosts. Leaving the wood we reached Common Lane and then took a bridleway, skirting Longfield Wood and then crossing the Ringmer to Laughton road and finding a path opposite which eventually brought us out at Laughton Tower with its moat, which is all that remains now of Laughton Place. After a coffee stop it was over the fields, eventually emerging from Black Shaw into the lovely churchyard of All Saints, Laughton, the church being a legacy of the Pelham family. We then followed the country lane back to the Roebuck Inn where the staff coped

Autumn tints 2

Five members of the group arrived at Midhurst on Sunday for their Autumn Tints walk in pouring rain which was to continue throughout the day, to a lesser or greater degree. The party set off in a north easterly direction passing the remains of Cowdrey Castle and on to the village of Easebourne before crossing open land to Whitters Copse and Scotland Knob. Then across more open land to Verdley Farm and along the edge of Verdley Wood, which should have provided magnificent views and autumn colours, but unfortunately visibility was very limited thus one’s imagination was rather stretched. Continuing on, the party descended Verdley Hill to the edge of Henley village then ascended to Henley Copse where lunch was taken, fallen trees providing the seating and shelter from the rain was provided by the dense canopy of the trees. Shortly after lunch Verdley Edge was reached where the party turned south crossing more open land before entering Great Common, an area of mixed woodland, but the inclement weather again tended the shroud the vitality of the autumn colours. Emerging from Great Common the party continued in a generally southerly direction via Whitters Farm and Buddington Farm to the A286 returning to the car park in heavy rain. Thanks to Bertram Sharp who nobly led this week.

Autumn tints 1

Twelve members took part in the first of their Autumn tints walks. They had a beautiful day with continuous sunshine but possibly because there had been little cold weather the tints were not as colourful as they had hoped. Starting from a lay-by on the A21 north of Flimwell they soon picked uip the Sussex Border path and followed this through Flimwell village and over a golf course to Devilsden Wood. On leaving the wood a stop was made for coffee before passing Birchenwood Farm and another part of Dale Hill golf course on the approach to Ticehurst. Skirting past the new primary school and a new housing estate the main high street was reached and then it was a short road walk to Three Leg Cross. Some of the party opted to have lunch in the Bull Inn whilst others sat in a field soaking up the sun, having a packed lunch.

After lunch the Bewl Water circular path was reached near Norwood Farm and this was followed eastwards to the road near Rosemary Farmhouse. The reservoir level was, as expected, very low but the walkers were surprised that little water was going into it despite the recent rain and the muddy conditions underfoot. It was then a short walk through a wood and up a steepish field back to the cars. Thanks to Robert for leading the walk.

Seaford to Eastbourne

Two days after the coach outing, we were again walking by water, but this time the sea. Nine people set out with Eddie Gibbs from Seaford Head and took a path across the golf course and then on to Exceat Visitor Centre where we had the unaccustomed luxury of enjoying coffee and croissants in the restaurant rather than the usual flasks on hard ground. After this, it was down to the sea and over the Sisters to Birling Gap, passing the modern temporary sculpture at Vanishing Point on the hill above Birling Gap where lunch or picnics were taken. Five walkers who had previously opted for a half-day walk then walked to East Dean and took the bus back to Seaford whilst the remaining intrepid contingent carried on over the coastal downland to Beachy Head and then on towards the pier for well-earned cream teas before catching the bus back to Seaford. A most enjoyable day.

Marlow and Henley coach outing

On Sunday September 18, the group enjoyed the last of our summer coach outings. After arriving at Marlow on the river Thames, most of us then followed the footpath alongside the river for seven miles to Henley on Thames. Along the way we were quite amazed to see the river-craft in so many different sizes and shapes and so many people really enjoying themselves messing about on the river. Tributaries, inlets, islands, locks, weirs and fabulous homes with gardens down to the river provided much interest along the way. Henley itself seemed full of people and we could just imagine what a spectacle the summer regatta must be. A few members chose not to walk and just enjoyed looking around Henley and taking a boat trip up the river. Bertram Sharp arranged this very enjoyable day out for us.

Wivelsfield

On an overcast Sunday morning, 21 members and Poppy the Labrador set off for an easy, flat 5.5 mile walk around Wivelsfield, made more challenging by over two dozen stiles en route (we lost count). Sustained by abundant sweet and juicy blackberries in the hedgerows, we made our way from the Royal Oak car park, along field edges and lanes, through West Wood. The old drove-way, Lashmar Drive, with distant views of the Downs, led us to the only patch of mud on the walk. We turned off a busy country lane and stopped for refreshments beneath an ancient oak, near St Helena Farm, before tackling the majority of the stiles in quick succession as we crossed field boundaries and skirted North America (farm, not country). Prettily marked cows watched our progress with considerable interest. The footpath took us through a garden and then more fields, and crossed the Sussex border path, before emerging through a wood to pass the large factory site on the edge of Ditchling Common, hidden for the most part by a substantial fence. We followed the bridleway around the Country Park to the north, close to St Mary’s House, and across the B2112 to Hope Farm and the Ditchling Common Stud. Bridleways and paths (and a slight detour) through thin woodland brought us back in a loop to the B2112. Dodging the traffic, we took the field path opposite back to our starting point, noting the construction of new housing now beginning to hide the facade of St George’s Retreat. Some of us retired to the Royal Oak and over lunch were told the origin of its pseudonym, Jacob’s Post – a glory tale of three murders and the hanging in 1734 of the perpetrator, Jacob Harris, whose body was subsequently hung on a gibbet in the grounds.

Isfield

Twenty two of us enjoyed an evening summer walk around Isfield. We started at the Laughing Fish, walking back down the road towards Lewes, some of us buying some local produce from a convenient road stall on the way. We soon set off across the fields to the Anchor Inn and then took a pleasant stroll up the river on part of the Sussex Ouse Valley walk. What a pleasure to see the river high on its banks and gently moving along as we made our way to the White Bridge.

Here we turned right back towards the village but turned off left to skirt the houses and to arrive at the village hall. We took the path opposite, down a drive reaching an attractive house before following the diversion around this to the stud farm. Turning right we continued on the path across the Lavender Line and onto the road.

Some on the walk thought that we would nip back to the pub at this point, but to make sure that the walkers got their money's worth, the leader took them on an extra loop down the road away from the village taking a path on the righ across a field with one very friendly horse and a smaller frisky one that kept us on our toes. Just a few fields and some challenging stiles and we soon arrived back at our starting point in time for supper.

Washington

On Tuesday 26 July, Jan and Peter Groom took us to the Washington area of West Sussex, we didn't venture on to the Downs, but kept to the low ground for a change. The countryside looked very dry and badly in need of a downpour, which we duly received over the next few days. It was sobering to see blackberries fast on ripening and clusters of large green conkers hanging from horse chestnut trees and to realise our summer is rapidly drawing to a close. We saw a strange building, like a water tower, converted at the top into a tiny house with magnificent views all around and with concrete spiral steps around the outside. It is amazing what we see when off the beaten track.

Rowlands Castle

The walk on Sunday 31 July was on the borders of West Sussex and Hampshire and the walkers present said how nice it was to be able to explore a new Downland area that was not familiar to them. Starting within sight of Stansted House the party took the gentle ascent of Rosamond's Hill where they had a coffee stop with good views of Portsmouth and the sea. From there they walked past Lodge Farm towards the delightful village of West Marden. After climbing up past the recently upgraded West Marden House to Horsley Farm their route took them through part of Markwells Wood to South Holt Farm and Adams Copse where they noticed that they were, in fact, walking on the Staunton Way. Up to then the route had been in West Sussex but at Deanlane End the border into Hampshire was crossed and shortly after this a picnic lunch was taken on a steep bank with delightful views up the valley towards Uppark. They then continued on the Sussex Border path, which at this point is actually in Hampshire, to Rowlands Castle where a short break enabled the party to look at the village green in this delightful ancient settlement. From there it was a relatively short walk through The Sling to the Long Monarch's Way drive to Stansted House. Unfortunately it came on to rain when only a short distance from the car park but this did not dampen what was a really interesting walk in this tranquil part of the South Downs. Thanks to Robert Cheesman who led this all-day walk

Ringmer

On a brilliant sunny morning, twelve members left the Green Man and followed the Laughton Road for a while before picking up the footpath towards Broyle Place. We were grateful for the tall hedges that gave patches of shade from the sun whilst heading for the Longfield and Ashreed Woods which were not only attractive to walk through but gave us further shade until we reached our coffee stop in view of the gliding club – where some were flying. From there we crossed the Broyle to Upper Lodge Farm then towards Plashett Wood which we skirted and headed for Brickyard Farm. During this part of the walk we were pleasantly surprised to come across two guitarists who were practising in the shade of a tree. Apart from disturbing a few wood pigeons, we did not see much wildlife, all obviously too hot and lazy to show themselves. We had a very well behaved dog with us who could have done with a nice river or pond to cool off in, but she really enjoyed the walk. The gardens in Broyle Lane were a beautiful sight, as were the flowers at the Green Man where eight of us were welcomed with excellent food which we ate Al Fresco. Jean and John Woollard led the walk (while others were walking the Vanguard Way)

Horsted Keynes

On the hottest Sunday of the year so far, the area around Horsted Keynes with its vast woodlands, lakes and hammer ponds, was the ideal place for a walk. Starting from the village car park, we took a footpath behind the village hall and beautifully kept allotments to Birchgrove Road. After passing Warren Farm, we took a bridlepath into the welcome shade of Birchgrove Wood. Even on such a hot day, we still had to negotiate thick mud, which had been protected by the canopy of trees and churned by many hooves, but it was a small price to pay for the woodland shade. A series of lakes lay to our left, some used for fishing. We emerged from the wood onto a lane and then crossed the ford which was almost dry and turned into Balcombe Lane, from where we turned off across fields with banks of purple foxgloves. Idyllic, yes, until we encountered a herd of white cows, with their calves, mooing and restless, and blocking the gateway and the footpath. However, two intrepid members leapt over the gate and captured the interest of the herd while the rest of us hurriedly slid by. After this adrenaline rush we were glad to follow the Sussex Border path back to the calm of Broadhurst Manor and the animal sanctuary run by Carla Lane, and follow the beautiful wooded lakeside path back to Horsted Keynes school. From here we took a path to see the lovely old Mill House, complete with its waterwheel, before joining the lane up to the village. The walk was arranged by Rosemary Burnett and led by Jeannette Swayne.

Alfriston

We were unlucky enough to experience the only rain seen in our part of the country for some considerable time. However, it was neither too heavy nor too prolonged and 11 of us, led by Janet, set out from Alfriston with the gardeners amongst us pleased their plants were getting a drink.

We cross the river, turned right at Plonk Barn and then follow the lane past Lullington Manor, where we struck off left and climbed gradually towards Lullington Heath, the path opening out to give glorious views of the South Downs. At Winchester Pond we turned right and descended gently at the edge of Friston Forest. During the recce, on a warm, sunny day, we had seen many brightly coloured butterflies but these were taking cover today. We took our coffee stop at the bottom, noting the new gate and fencing which restricts the Exmoor ponies who work hard to keep the scrubby grass under control, but did not linger as the rain chose that moment to come down more heavily. We carried on the length of Charleston Bottom then climbed a style and followed the South Downs Way.

The rain had now stopped and that was the last of it. We climbed over two more stiles, met a few friendly horses and descended to Litlington village. Shortly after passing the Plough and Harrow pub we turned left along the footpath leading down to the river. A few lively black and white cows greeted us and we followed the river bank back to Alfriston. Just before we crossed the bridge again we were lucky enough to see a heron, still as a statue. Several of us finished up with lunch at the Barley Mow at Selmeston.

Falmer to Lewes

On Saturday 14 June, after a brief railway journey, 24 walkers came together at Falmer railway station for an evening walk. Having crossed the A27 through the new subway we headed off via Falmer Village into open country. Although cloudy we were still treated to extensive views across The Downs in all directions. There was also a great variety of wild flowers in bloom including a profusion of poppies in one field. Our route took us northwards along Ridge Road, out of Falmer, on a steady climb until we reached the South Downs Way, by Bucklands Bank. As we approached Blackcap the sun was still shining behind us. A remarkable feature of the walk was that there were no stiles and very few gates, allowing us to make good time. We then made our way back to Lewes by way of the racecourse buildings before, at about 9pm, splitting up to go our separate ways, just as the sun was setting. The leaders were Jill and Graham King

Jevington

On Sunday 22nd May, 14 members set off from Jevington to scale the Downs twice. The weather at the beginning was overcast and the fact that the walk was listed as hilly, probably put off a number of people but they missed a treat. Starting from the public car par we climbed up the hill to the edge of Friston forest. Looking back we enjoyed the view of the Downs on the other side of the valley, with cows and sheep grazing in the fields it was a typically English country scene. We turned right at the top to walk along the brow of the hill and then took a muddy path through some trees to join the South Downs Way and so down to Jevington church. Our route took us across the road by the Hungry Monk restaurant and still following the South Downs Way, climbed once again up the side of the Downs to the ridge. Now we could look back at the hill we had climbed earlier and the spire of the church we had passed. After a coffee break in bright sunshine which lasted for the rest of the walk, we picked up the Wealdway and followed the ridge along until we were above Willington and Polegate with views of the sea and Eastbourne and Hastings in the distance. The views from here are spectacular, Arlington reservoir could be seen on the landward side and the outline of the Downs to the west. Heading left from the car park (what a price they charge to park cars there), we climbed slightly before heading down through fields of cowslips and other downland flowers to the Eight Bells at Jevington. Turning right along the road until we picked up the green lane, which took us on a circular route round the back of Jevington to come out at the church once again. Passing through the churchyard gate we came across a field of young lambs who were friendly enough to be stroked. An excellent lunch was taken at the Eight Bells. Thanks to Gordon for leading a scenic walk.

Barnsgate

On the 18th May, the group enjoyed their annual lunch at Barnsgate Manor Vineyard. This was preceded by a glorious walk led by Jill and Graham King which started from Barnsgate.

Heading north, and leaving the llamas behind, we were soon onto the Ashdown Forest before crossing the A26 and following paths through beautiful woodlands towards Stroods and then on to High Hurstwood. The bluebells, although still much in evidence, were just beginning to fade but patches of pink champion and greater stitchwort lit up the woodlands and the foxgloves provided a promise of more colour very soon.

Reaching High Hurstwood as we followed the lane for a short while, passing the old rectory, now a Buddhist retreat, before picking up the Vanguard Way through a lovely wooded dell and then climbing gradually to reach Stroods House Farm again. From here we followed their drive back to the A26 right opposite the drive to Barnsgate. The well pruned vines were just showing their first leaves and the whole scene was enchanted by the glorious views back to the Downs. This superb walk was equally matched by the lunch that followed which had been arranged by Bert Sharp.

Folkstone

On Sunday 8 May, 32 members enjoyed the first of our three summer coach and walk trips organised for us by Bertram Sharp. The exciting walk provided the contrast between quiet countryside with one of Europe’s largest civil engineering projects.

Leaving Lewes we took the scenic route through Burwash to Folkstone, stopping for coffee at Tenterden. We started the seven mile walk from the road just north of Saltwood, before Folkstone, where we followed the Saxon Shore Way and the Elam Valley Way up to the top of Tolsford Hill (181m) on the North Downs escarpment. From here, we had magnificent views of Folkstone and its viaduct, Hythe, Dungeness, the Fire Hills at Hastings and nearer to the south of us, rising separately from the main range of Downs, was the dramatic conical-shaped Summerhouse Hill, minus its grand hexagonal gazebo, a landmark for miles until it was blown up on November 5, 1935. We continued along this dramatic escarpment towards Folkstone following the North Downs Way. Cowslips were strewn over the downland along with other wild flowers which are preserved here by traditional grazing. These beautiful hills provide a magnificent backdrop to Folkstone. At lunchtime we were high above the Channel Tunnel terminal and were able to watch lorries driving into their cages for their onward journey and also saw the Eurostar. We continued on until Sugarloaf Hill where we saw our coach waiting for us on the Canterbury Road and then rode into Folkstone to pick up our five non-walkers, and some people took the opportunity to buy some local shellfish on the seafront before travelling home. A most enjoyable day.

Blackboys

Despite nineteen members away in Majorca, eighteen members joined Audrey Wilding on a walk around Blackboys on the Wednesday. The walk visited Waldron church en route, and magnificent views were enjoyed of the countryside all around during the walk which took us through several conservation areas.

Woodmancote

Occasionally we have to make alterations to our programme of walks and our last Sunday walk on April 10th which was to have been at Horsted Keynes was changed at short notice to a walk around Woodmancote, which was to have been in June. Brenda and Martin Keogh led a 5 mile flattish circular walk from Woodmancote church, visiting Balckstone and Blackstone Grange on the way. Fourteen people, despite being accosted by some heifers and a bull, enjoyed the walk and scenery.

Bo-Peep - Denton circular

A sure sign that Spring is sprung is when walkers leave the mud and mire of the Weald and get up onto our matchless, delightful Downs. A good turnout of such walkers recently assembled at the Bo-Peep car park on the Firle ridge leaving the lemming-like rush , pollution and noise of the A27 far below and behind them, They had a glorious balmy, sunny day with a light unpolluted easterly. No noises, but sounds: the almost invisible skylarks; the forlorn baas of spring lambs briefly lost from mums - this spot is well named; and the friendly nattering of reacquainted walkers with one or two new faces, and the usual old faces. Stretching off to the southern horizon were those broad sweeps, curves and ridges of those Downs, with the glistening sea at Newhaven to the right and just a glimpse of Seaford Head to the left.

The chosen path kept to the ridge of Norton Top curving round to the south-east to reach the six-paths junction: then the right hand path of these led the party west down to Norton Bottom, on to the curiously-named Poverty Bottom, and over into Denton. Some five miles of easy walking, so far, meant that they had hardly earned the appealing menu of the Flying Fish pub. The chef here works at getting his cut-above-the-rest menu just right, and the wait does not please everyone, but as one of the party rightly observed. 'quality takes time'. Some were forced by other demands on their time to return to Lewes by train - but after lunch. The remainder which turned out to be most of the party, then climbed back up to the dominating east-west Firle Ridge during the afternoon, with the extra handicap of being weighted down by their chocolate and sticky puddings. Finally, a sharp right along the ridge took them back to their starting point of the morning, some ten miles of walking on a truly gorgeous far-from-the-madding-crowd English spring day, with a gourmet lunch as the icing on the cake. Thanks to Eddy and Joan for leading a superb walk.

Shortbridge

Our walk on Sunday 13 March started at Shortbridge near Piltdown, crossed the golf course, followed lanes and crossed fields to Fletching. The spire of the church at Fletching could be seen in the distance for much of the first half of the walk. Reaching the churchyard, we turned past the wonderful house on its corner which looked as though it had originally been timber framed with its front and sides covered over at some time in brick. We passed a row of pretty terraced cottages by the school, crossing the playing fields to return to the open countryside again. Having crossed the main road we took a path passing the impressive Barkham Manor with its resident swans on the small lakes and continued down to a lane at Sharpsbridge. Here a raised concrete walkway gave evidence to possible flooding and certainly the river ran very fast under the bridge nearby. The walk continued back passing a very large house at Buckham Hill and an impressive converted barn before taking the road back to our starting point. A converted mill added to the number of interesting buildings in this area. We took lunch at the picturesque Peacock Inn – a good Sunday roast dinner for most of us.

Buxted

Black clouds threatened half an hour before the start of our walk on Sunday 13 February, but we ventured out across Buxted Deer Park in bright sunshine which set off the house and nearby clear blue lake to perfection. We admired the ancient yew tree in the churchyard of St Margaret's in the park and followed the Wealdway through the park itself. So far so good - but the rain of the previous few days had further taken its toll on the path alongside the railway line and the clay soil made it all a bit sticky.

We continued on however and took a lane up to Pound Green, glad of more firm footing, and crossed the road taking a lane to the valley north of Buxted. Here we had a glimpse of the most wonderful view with folds of hills giving way to a distant far horizon.

We carried on down into a wood where we heard a woodpecker on a previous parctice of the walk - not today however, with 25 people waiting to climb the stile and anxious to get over into a further damp field. We approached the outskirts of Buxted and the promised snow arrived, fortunately short-lived as we walked past first a converted oast house and then an old farmhouse with its boundary of pollarded trees and now surrounded by new property. Most of us ate in the nearby White Hart at the end of a wet but enjoyable walk. Thanks to Jan and Peter for leading the walk.

Around Birling Gap

It was a joy to visit the Seven Sisters Country Park on Wednesday 9th January. John and Joyce Fisher led a superb walk from Birling Gap. We took the costal path towards Belle Tout lighthouse before dropping down to the road and then taking a path across fields to Birling Farm and the Sheep centre. Many of us had never walked this particular track before. After reaching the lovely old village of East Dean and having our coffee break in the recreation ground, we took a path between houses and then a steep uphill path towards Crowlink. With magnificent views all around us, we crossed the wonderful sweeping downland until we reached the coastal path again.

Birling Gap and lunch seemed a long way off at this point with several steep Sisters climb, but we made it in a relatively short time and we were made welcome at the Birling Gap Hotel where we enjoyed a hot lunch after such a bracing walk

Waldron

Twenty-six walkers, including several people walking with the group for the first time joined Jan and Peter Groom for a walk around Waldron on the last Sunday in January

Waldron lies enmeshed in a confusing network of minor roads but the party duly found the starting point at All Saints church with a vineyard almost opposite the lych-gate The walk, enjoyed by all, took us over typical English countryside, with fields, farms and woods and made easier by the obvious work being done by ESCC with recently restored footbridges and some new and well designed stiles. The Star Inn in the village provided excellent and reasonably priced food for those of us who wanted to escape cooking Sunday lunch.

Firle and Beddingham Hill

Twenty four people and a dog turned up for the walk from Firle, up Beddginham Hill and back down to Firle. The sun was shining but the wind was cold as we set off from Firle car park, to briefly pass through the grounds of Firle Estate. We were greeted in the first field by four Shetland ponies who came to see who we were. What was more surprising was that a couple of sheep approached us, not their usual behaviour which is to run away. Passing through the gates of the estate we headed west along a track which took us past Preston House and on towards Preston Court Farm. On reaching the road we turned left, passed Little Dene and began the climb to the top of Beddingham Hill with its distinctive radio masts. We paused near the top to look back on the site of the Roman villa behind Preston Court Farm, excavated a short while ago.

At the top of the hill we found some gorse bushes to shelter us from the keen wind to take a coffee stop. The dog still had enough energy to chase a ball whilst we sat and took our break. Heading eastwards along the top of the Downs, we followed the South Downs Way past the masts and on to the car par where we stopped to watch some people paragliding. Our route took us further along the top before turning to our left down a steep, muddy path that went diagonally down the escarpment to a muddy path at the bottom. We turned left onto the Old Coach Road towards Firle. As we walked along this track we saw two ambulances and a rescue helicopter on the top of the hill by the car park and assumed that there had been an accident with one of the paragliders; we hoped nobody was too badly injured. Our walk finished at the Ram public house where a number stayed for lunch before returning to Lewes. The walk was led by Eileen and Gordon.

Scaynes Hill

Our walk on Sunday 16 January was at Scaynes Hill. Leaving from The Farmers public house on the busy A272, we turned into Clearwater Lane, also the Sussex Border Path, and were almost immediately in the depths of the Sussex Wealden countryside. We followed the border path for a while until Butterbox Lane was reached and then onto Wapsbourne Wood where coffee was taken sitting on conveniently placed sumps of wood. Returning via Lindfield Farm, an army of tiny Shetland ponies raced up to the fence to greet us, no doubt expecting more than the handfuls of grass that we offered. We were soon back to Clearwater Lane and The Farmers where some members enjoyed a good lunch. This walk was led by John and Jean Woollard. Although only January, there were signs of spring waiting in the wings. Snowdrops were just showing a glimpse of white, a primrose was seen and yellow catkins were spotted, all signs of wonderful things to come.

Selmeston

Our first Wednesday walk of 2005 began in the peaceful village of Selmeston on a fine and breezy day. 21 members and Poppy the Labrador proceeded north up The Street, then took a path between two cottages and headed north-west, eventually crossing the railway line over two substantial stiles. We continued in the same direction over very wet fields to reach Langtye Lane. We took the path opposite through the garden of Langtye Cottage, and followed a bridleway north to reach the lane leading to Ripe church, with its Pelham Tower. Clumps of snowdrops – harbingers of spring – were already in flower along the path through the churchyard. We made our way across two turf pastures where machinery used for lifting and rolling lawn turfs was standing idle. At tiny St Bartholomew’s Church, Chalvington, we stopped for coffee in the warm sunshine. In the churchyard we found a tombstone to a young boy tragically killed by a kick from a horse. Through fine memorial gates we emerged onto a lane and then, beyond Church Farm, skirting the muddy edge of a field we reached Langtye Lane again. Here we followed the Vanguard Way up a gentle incline through Mays Farm, past imposing Mays House, which had been visible for much of the walk. The continuing very muddy conditions were making progress slow and difficult, so, instead of proceeding towards Berwick Station as originally planned, we left the Vanguard Way and headed due south. We crossed the railway line by recently constructed stiles and continued towards a metalled track back to Selmeston; some of us made a diversion to Selmeston churchyard, to look at the memorials to Rev W Parish, author of the Dictionary of Sussex Dialect, and F Mockford, originator of the Mayday call. All along the walk, Poppy the Labrador had revelled and rolled in the mud, occasionally taking baths in conveniently placed pools. For the rest of us, our gardens will benefit from the copious amounts of soil brought back on our boots. After five miles and some 14 stiles, we retraced our steps along The Street to the Barley Mow, where we were joined by other members for lunch.

Walks over Christmas and the New Year

We have enjoyed three rather special walks over the Christmas holidays. Our Boxing Day walk, led by Robert Cheesman, was made special by the frost. Grasses , leaves and trees were all covered by a thin layer of frost, and sparkled and shone in the sunlight providing a scene to grace any Christmas card. Starting from the now derelict Bluebell public house, we walked to the pond at Laughton where coffee was taken, and then returned to The Broyle passing through the lovely Laughton Woods on the way and noting all the work on stiles and bridges by our group in the past.

The following Wednesday, Jeannette Swayne led a five mile circular walk which started at Barcombe Cross and then followed ancient paths, all well marked and maintained, to the outskirts of Chailey before returning via Knowlands Wood and Farm with its beautiful lake and then the fields and the river which lay below Banks Farm. After the walk we were invited back to the leader's house to eat our picnics and have a seasonal drink and mince pie, a special touch for Christmas. We were also treated to a slide show of the walk Jeannette and Hilda did, ably supporterd by Graham, along the length of Offa's Dike. Wonderful scenery and an impressive piece of walking!

Our New Year's day walk was special because not only did Keith Dance lead a wonderful walk around Falmer and Stanmer Park, he also gave us a tour of the university buildings on the way. We passed through the lovely old flint village of Stanmer before climbing to Stanmer Down and returning by Ridge Road to the Swan at Falmer where we enjoyed a good lunch.

Newhaven / Seaford bird sanctuary

Our last walk before Christmas was quite an unusual one and was led for us by Jenny Low. We started on the seafront at Seaford and walked along to Tide Mills, then on to Newhaven harbour where we crossed the bridge over the railway and took a path over a recreation ground which led us into the new nature reserve. This is part of the Ouse Restoration Project and can be seen from the Denton to Seaford road. We then had the opportunity to walk right round the reserve and see the work being done to create a more natural habitat for birds, especially migrant and estuary loving sea birds. Many trees had been planted on the banks surrounding the mud flats and in years to come its beauty will certainly increase. A very interesting walk enjoyed by all ten members who braved a wet start to the morning.

Devil's Dyke

On Wednesday 1st December, a cloudy, overcast day 20 walkers set off from the view point at Devil's Dyke car park initially descending the scarp face of the South Downs into Faulking. Although it was misty we had the panoramic view into the near distance.

Having reached Perching Manor Farm we headed eastwards, along the road, into the village until we reached the memorial where a footpath took us northwards as far as Brook House. Much of the land was used for horses, including stables, and was quite saturated in places. From Brook House we walked eastwards for about 1 kilometre until we reached a sewage works on the outskirts of Poynings. We then headed south eastwards to the road along which both Faulking and Poynings have developed at the foot of the South Downs.

By a public telephone box in Poynings we took a public bridleway heading southwards which eventually took us up onto the South Downs. We then walked, on National Trust land, along the northwest side of Devil's Dyke before reaching our starting point.

The walk was led by Jill and Graham King

Berwick and Arlington

On Sunday 21 November, despite a wet and gloomy November forecast, Eddie Gibbs led 25 enthusiastic walkers pursuing the Cuckmere valley north to Upper Dicker and back. The ideal starting point was the tree-fringed lake-like Arlington Reservoir, formerly the haunt of woolly mammoth and bison but now that of grebe, the seasonal osprey, and the occasional fisherman trying to entice coarse fish with his garish flies more fitting a tumbling trout stream. Skirting the south side of the reservoir, first up was the Shetland pony stud farm with a few smug-looking studs just hanging around, and then ahead was the pretty medieval Arlington church with an even more ancient looking tithe barn alongside. A brief diversion along the Wealdway avoided a foot deep mud-lake at Raylands Farm (what about that for an effective path obstruction), but we gradually closed in on the Cuckmere itself - a mere brook compared with its beautiful estuary - near where it forms the water source for the Michelham Priory moat. Many stiles, but two impressed as being at the cutting edge of stile design where one merely pressed the horizontal bars down, though the men had to be nippy with their leg over in case the bars came quickly up. Past the Priory and into Upper Dicker, formerly the haunt of the infamous Horatio Bottomley MP, and then south once more back to the north side of the reservoir and the cars. Some 6.5 miles, gently undulating, weather drying, mud mostly avoided, a mixture of field, water and copse, and always the distant backdrop of our delightful Downs hiding that Cuckmere Estuary. This delightful walk was Eddie's first for us, although a very experienced walk's holiday leader, and he will be leading our Majorca holiday in March.

Cowbeech

On Wednesday 17 November, Colin led 28 members on a walk around Cowbeech. This rural area between Hailsham and Rushlake Green seemed almost like uncharted territory as far as footpaths were concerned. Leaders always have to go out beforehand to check the walk and this walk proved quite a challenge. Footpaths were unsigned, bridges were broken, stiles unstable and paths overgrown, which necessitated a clearance morning before the walk.

However, preparation done, everyone enjoyed the walk, surviving the bridges and stiles and again enjoyed the late Autumn colours, especially a hedge of holly berries with the largest sprays of berries that people had ever seen. Plenty of mud but we are used to that.

Burwash

On Sunday 24 October setting off from the village of Burwash we took a path downhill which led to Batemans, the home of Rudyard Kipling, and then on across country, through farmland and magnificent woodland. We crossed a bridge over the gypsum conveyor line before returning to Batemans and on to the village. The vast areas of mixed woodlands on this walk lived up to the title of Autumn Tints. The walk was led by Bert.

St Leonard's Forest

This walk on Wednesday 3 November was the second of our walks subtitled Autumn Tints. This forest, which lays to the south of Crawley, gave us the opportunity to appreciate the beauty of woodland complete with wild deer busily foraging before winter sets in. The walk was led by Robert

Hurstpierpoint

31 people turned up for this walk on Sunday 7 November. This ramble took us as far as Wolstonbury Hill before returning to Hurstpierpoint via Danny and Washbrooke. The autumn colours seemed brighter than ever alongside of which summer flowering blue scabious were spotted still in full bloom. Beautiful red holly berries in the woods below Wolstonbury were admired and we saw several very old and dying beech trees which were providing a home for some wonderful varieties of fungi. Plenty of mud but, no doubt, boots will be clean again for our next walk

Lancing Ring and Coombe Head

It was a dull start to the day on Wednesday 20th October as we gathered ion North Street Car Park for our walk. It was surprising that 12 people turned up, including two new to the group. The walk started from the Sussex Pad Hotel at Lancing and after parking the cars we set of in rain. After a few minutes this cleared and rain hoods we lowered and the rest of the walk was dry with the occasional glimpse of the sun.

The walk climbed slowly with Lancing Nature Reserve on our left. The trees in the woods were just turning colour and the blackberries were very shrivelled on the bushes but some bright red berries gave colour to the hedgerows. The path levelled off and we followed the contour for a quite a while. This walk briefly joined an earlier walk from Sompting Abbas which some of us had done – it rained that day too! At the power lines we turned right towards Coombe Head, a clump of trees at the top of the incline. We took a brief coffee break in the lee of some trees as the wind was strong. Moving on we passed through a solemn group of cows who looked at us with sad eyes but did not move. Field mushrooms were gathered by some as we walked along for supper that night. Turning to the right again just past Coombe Head we passed above the small hamlet of Coombe and then turned right again with Lancing College once again in our sights. A recently ploughed field clogged our boots and made us all a few inched taller. Fortunately, the next field had long grass in it where we were able to clean the mud from our boots. Crossing a style we turned left to rejoin the path we had started on and so back to the cars. Most then went on to the Amsterdam public house in Shoreham where we were joined by some non-walkers for lunch. Thanks to Gordon and Eileen for leading the walk.

Rotherfield

On Sunday 10 October the walk began from Marks Cross. The convoy of cars that travelled from Lewes via Crowborough managed to miss the crucial left turn in Rotherfield. Fortunately, so did the walk leader, who was some way behind. When he came upon the convoy halted in confusion, he confidently drove to the front and wagons roll style led them further astray until a sign post and a look at the map revealed the awful truth, we were on our way to Crowborough. Ingnominiously retreating back to Rotherfield we were soon on the right road (the B2100 as it happens) and arrived at Mark Cross Inn just in time to prevent one independent walker giving up and going home, convinced that she was sitting in the wrong pub car park.

Surprisingly, the twenty members present still allowed themselves to be led but a clearly myopic map reader, and under clearing skies and improving temperatures, we set off westward through the undulating farm land. Some large beasts in one field caused momentary concern before we plunged into pleasant woodland that eventually led us to a broad, mercifully mud free, bridleway that steadily climbed up to Hoth Farm with extensive views across to Crowborough. From time to time we caught glimpses of the white pointed top of the tower peeking above the trees on top of Saxonbury Hill. It is now used as a mobile phone mast and sadly it is not possible to climb to the top for the views; there are no views from the bottom of the tower.

We returned to Mark Cross Inn in time for most of the party to indulge in a generous Sunday roast. Top marks to the weather for being so much better than forecast. Thanks to Hilda and Graham for leading

East Chiltington

Thirteen members (including one new person) met on Sunday, 12th September for a walk, publicised as East Chiltington but which actually began in Plumpton Green. Having parked near the station, the group walked through the village before taking a footpath across fields towards Captains Farm. After crossing Streat Lane, the route continued south along a bridleway through woods and then into more open countryside with some wonderful views over towards the Downs. Before turning east, a spot close to a hedge full of ripe, sweet blackberries and sheltered from the wind was selected for a short coffee stop. A brief climb then brought us to Streat and the old road leading to East Chiltington. From the church here, a short section of road and then a footpath led to the railway, which was followed back to Plumpton station. Most of the group enjoyed a relaxing lunch at the nearby Winning Post pub. The walk was led by Graham and Jill.

Crowlink

On Wednesday 8th September, 19 of us set off in perfect weather from Exceat Bridge, over the River Cuckmere to Exceat and then uphill to a splendid viewpoint looking down over the ox-bow lakes and meanders of the old Cuckmere river out to sea. Climbing a stone stile we headed into the cool of Friston Forest and descended a steep flight of steps to the hamlet of Westdean, with its tranquil ponds. Then a long straight track led us east along the valley floor, criss-crossed with mountain bike tracks. We were accompanied by numerous dragon and damsel flies. We stopped to admire a patch of autumn crocus in full bloom in a cottage garden, then continued along the track to the South East Water pumping station.

We turned north towards Friston Place and found a shady spot for coffee with plenty of recently felled logs for seats. After a breather we took a grassy path uphill through a field of friendly sheep and lambs, with most attractive coloured fleeces, and ascended to Friston pond for another short rest. The next part of the walk was a complete contrast. In full sun we took the track through the National Trust car park at Crowlink, then across springy downland, looking down on the compact hamlet of Crowlink, and reached the cliffs at the Sarsen stone. Spectacular views awaited us here along Seven Sisters to Birling Gap and Belle Tout to the east, and similarly west to Cuckmere Haven and Seaford Head. We turned west at the stone and challenged our leg muscles over four of the Seven Sisters, following the South Downs Way to Cliff End. A snake slithered rapidly from our path. A brief stop to admire the tapestry of the Cuckmere valley below, then we descended from the cliffs through a herd of cows, calves and a bull to the Seven Sisters Country Park. We crossed at Foxhole to the east bank of the straightened section of the Cuckmere river and so back to our starting point and well-deserved refreshments in the Golden Galleon.

Biggin Hill

On Sunday 5 September we enjoyed the last of our coach trips for the summer. On a glorious hot and sunny day we travelled to Biggin Hill, not to see the air show, but to walk over the most beautiful countryside to the village of Knockhalt. From Biggin Hill we could see Canary Wharf and central London but in a short while we were in the depths of the countryside, often densely wooded and, apart from passing two beautiful golf courses and two Scout camps, we had the countryside to ourselves. Blackberries were at their best and taken advantage of and the abundance of hips, berries and nuts was much commented on. Could we be in for a hard winter this year? The coach was waiting for us at Knockhalt, but before boarding it we took advantage of long cool dinks at the local Inn. Thanks go to Bert for arranging the day.

Bishopstone

Jan and Peter Groom led the Dowland walk which started at Norton, a tiny hamlet just north of Bishopstone on Sunday 22 August. 15 people had a bracing 5 mile walk which started with a fairly steep climb but was rewarded with wonderful Downland and sea views. The prominent point on the walk was Five Lord's Burgh, which, on the map, is half way between Norton and Bo-peep, which stands above Alciston. In the last war, German planes dropped surplus bombs in this area to lighten their load before returning across the channel and several round bomb craters were seen on the walk. One crater now appeared as a natural pond, aptly called Jerry's Pond. Although summer is rapidly fading, there were still many wild flowers to be seen and especially the beautiful blue scabious. The walkers enjoyed a picnic by a large pond at the end of the walk where they were joined by a flock of inquisitive sheep which descended from the Downs to see what was going on.

Wandering around Fairwarp

On Wednesday 25 August, Audrey Wilding led a walk from Fairwarp which took us over the Ashdown Forest which was quite wet and muddy after all the rain. We were thrilled to find a beautiful blue gentian on the side of the footpath. We walked through woodland too. Furnace Wood was remembered by some of us who have, in the past walked The Wealdway long distance path. Streams in full flow were crossed with care and eventually we were led safely back to Fairwarp along little tracks and paths which were well known to our leader.

Chailey

Memories of evening walks in the summer are often recalled on dark winter evenings and our Chailey evening walk on Wednesday 11 August, led by Keith Dance, will provide memories of head-high maize, blackberries ready for picking, fully ripened wheat and oats, warmth, easy walking and companionship and a welcome supper at the end of the walk.

We started the walk from The Horns Lodge at South Chailey, and took a path opposite, passing The Hooke and Long Wood before turning towards Motts Wood. We soon passed the site of the Chailey air show held the previous weekend, and then on to Lumberpits. Taking another left turn, we skirted Great Home Wood and after Hattons Green, took paths across dry summer fields back to South Chailey where 16 of us were made very welcome at The Horns Lodge and enjoyed a delicious supper.

Chailey

Memories of evening walks in the summer are often recalled on dark winter evenings and our Chailey evening walk on Wednesday 11 August, led by Keith Dance, will provide memories of head-high maize, blackberries ready for picking, fully ripened wheat and oats, warmth, easy walking and companionship and a welcome supper at the end of the walk.

We started the walk from The Horns Lodge at South Chailey, and took a path opposite, passing The Hooke and Long Wood before turning towards Motts Wood. We soon passed the site of the Chailey air show held the previous weekend, and then on to Lumberpits. Taking another left turn, we skirted Great Home Wood and after Hattons Green, took paths across dry summer fields back to South Chailey where 16 of us were made very welcome at The Horns Lodge and enjoyed a delicious supper.

Chailey

Memories of evening walks in the summer are often recalled on dark winter evenings and our Chailey evening walk on Wednesday 11 August, led by Keith Dance, will provide memories of head-high maize, blackberries ready for picking, fully ripened wheat and oats, warmth, easy walking and companionship and a welcome supper at the end of the walk.

We started the walk from The Horns Lodge at South Chailey, and took a path opposite, passing The Hooke and Long Wood before turning towards Motts Wood. We soon passed the site of the Chailey air show held the previous weekend, and then on to Lumberpits. Taking another left turn, we skirted Great Home Wood and after Hattons Green, took paths across dry summer fields back to South Chailey where 16 of us were made very welcome at The Horns Lodge and enjoyed a delicious supper.

Jevington

Our walk on Wednesday 30 June started at Jevington and, passing the Hungry Monk restaurant, we were amused to see a plaque on the wall with the inscription "Banoffe Pie born here, 1972". Leaving the village we took a gentle uphill path and soon reached Willingdon Hill from where we had uninterrupted views to Birling Gap, Seaford Head and Newhaven Harbour and we stopped for coffee to admire the view.

Returning via the Wealdway and Butts Brow, we were surprised to see how near we were to the built-up area of Eastbourne and could actually see Dungeness power station standing, it seemed, like an island in the sea.

The Downs themselves were full of beauty with noticeable large patches of tall blue vipers bugloss in abundance this year and swathes of vivid yellow flowers of the horseshoe vetch. Spotted orchids and the deep pink pyramid orchid were also seen along with the deep blue rampions and lilac coloured scabious not to mention fields of poppies in the distance. All this and serenaded by skylarks too.

We turned west and soon left the high ground to return to Jevington. A very enjoyable walk led by Keith Dance

Barcombe to Blackcap

On a bright, sunny Sunday morning, June 13, twelve members set off from North Street car park on an all day circular walk, number 9, as featured in the group’s publication Ten Walks From Lewes. After leaving the town we set off along the bank side of the River Ouse to Hamsey before heading north eastwards to Barcombe. On reaching the church we stopped for the morning break admiring the view all the way back to Lewes. In the 17th century the village moved away to Barcombe Cross, to which we were now headed, after the old village was ravaged by the plague. About half a mile before reaching Barcombe Cross we headed eastwards towards Chiltington taking in the magnificent views of the Weald and the Downs. Following the crossing of the A275 we stopped for lunch in the shade of a large tree. Having then crossed the bridge over the London to Lewes railway line we passed through Warningore Wood, where the trail was amazingly dry, with a view of the Downs rising ahead to Black Cap. Continuing southwards from Warningore Farm we crossed the B1126 before tackling the scarp face. Most of the steep climb was in the shade and we soon emerged at the top with Black Cap about 500 yards to the right, where we took our final break. We then headed south eastwards passed the old racecourse with wonderful views ahead all the way to the town outskirts. Before returning to the town centre the group enjoyed tea and scones at the leaders' house. The walk was led by Jill and Graham.

Ashurst

On Sunday 30 May a group of 28 walkers met at the Fountain Inn in Ashurst for a 5 mile walk in the West Sussex countryside, and with the help of leaders Martin and Brenda Keogh, explored the area which lies between Ashurst and the A24. Leaving the Inn and Church Lane, we took a footpath across buttercup meadows where ponies grazed. We walked through fields and woodland which lay north of Spithandle Lane including a rather muddy bridle path which allowed us to see footprints of deer which must have visited the woods earlier in the morning. Heading north, we passed the track to Moors Head and carried on to Honeybridge Farm where, as we crossed the footbridge, we saw several mayflies enjoying their day of life. Turning east for Ashurst again, we had wonderful views to Chanctonbury ring and Truleigh Hill and remembered the challenge of the South Downs Way walk which we are completing in July. We soon reached Church Lane again and a few yards further one, stopped to look inside the church which had once hosted Sir Lawrence Olivier’s funeral service before skirting the buttercup meadows once more and arriving back to the cars. We were extremely lucky to have a warm sunny morning and the promised rain didn't arrive until we reached the church. Several members stayed for lunch at the Fountain Inn and everyone went home having had a very enjoyable walk.

West of Henfield

Seventeen of us set off on our Wednesday walk last week (19 May), starting from Henfield and going south on the Downs Link (the path of the old dismantled railway). The weather was perfect, warm and sunny but with a light breeze. We took a brief detour round a nursery and some quiet lanes before returning to the shade of the Downs Link. Everywhere looking so green and fresh and hawthorn was out in abundance. After taking a coffee stop we crossed the river Adur at Stretham Manor. Here we left the shade of the Link, turned right and followed the path alongside the river, with lovely open views, over a series of solid and well built stiles. It was hard to believe that just ten days ago the surrounding fields had been completely flooded but our path had dried out well albeit a bit rutted by cattle. When we reached Bineham bridge we crossed over the river and continued our path between farmland and fields, meeting our only bit of mud (and being briefly serenaded by a cuckoo) before picking up a quiet lane which took us back to our start point. The pub and Oriental Tavern just beside the car park being closed for lunch on Tuesday and Wednesday we drove back into Henfield where arrangements had been made for us to eat at the Plough Inn. They set out a long table for us in their courtyard garden and we were very well catered for. Thanks to Janet for leading.

Warningore Wood 40th Anniversary Walk

On Wednesday 5th May, 18 members of Lewes Footpaths Group took part in a walk led by Robert Cheesman that included following the route of the group's first walk through Warningore Wood some 40 years ago in which he had taken part.

Starting from East Chiltington the walkers went past Mount Pleasant to Hurst Barns Farm and then to the Burrell's where a coffee break was held on the railway bridge. At this point their president, John Vokins MBE joined them and photographs were taken before proceeding through Warningore Wood and Farm. Whilst the route through the wood is now very clear, compared to the jungle of 40 years ago, it still suffers from being very wet and muddy underfoot. However worse was to come because on returning to East Chiltington via Stanton's Farm, one field entrance was a lake of slurry whilst at another point, where two stiles had to be crossed in close succession, the path between them resembled a stream. For many this will be their memory of the walk whilst another member will remember it because he managed to snap a walking pole. Despite the water underfoot there was no significant rain on the walk and most of the walkers took lunch in the Jolly Sportsman Inn afterwards.

Wivlesfield Green

Our May Bank Holiday walk our walk started at The Plough north of Plumpton Green. We crossed a field to the left of the pub, then passed St Helena Farm where we met some interested calves kept at bay by one of our more fearless members. We crossed a few more fields and accompanying stiles and Hundred Acre Lane. Here we skirted some newly planted saplings with a densely blue-belled wood on our right, catching the perfume as we passed. We briefly passed through this wood, across a field and the outskirts of West Wood, crossing a very muddy woodland path. We continued in this direction, then turned right to take a coffee stop overlooking St George's Retreat and the lake in front of St Mary's House.

We continued on to the outskirts of Wivelsfield taking a short path opening out to a beautiful old house covered in wisteria. Continuing on towards Wivelsfield Green we passed some tiny, pretty, old cottages before taking a right hand path through a field and into an archway through the vegetation. What a glorious wood on the other side of the arch - Beech trees all in new leaf and bluebells ahead of us - a perfect Spring picture. We crossed Hundred Acre Lane again and took the track alongside Woodlands Farm trying to avoid the mud along the way. At the end of the wood we crossed a field which would have given some really good views of the Downs on a clearer day.

At the end of this path we saw another patch of bluebell wood before turning right onto the road for a short distance turning off right again back to St Helena farm and back to the Plough for a very good lunch served surprisingly quickly for 21 of the 29 people on the walk. We must give thanks to the Monday Club who had provided some very walker and dog friendly stiles on our way and to Sue for leading.

Gun Hill and Hellingly

The pretty village of Hellingly was the focus of our walk on Wednesday 7 April and the circular churchyard with a row of small cottages provided the perfect setting for a coffee stop. We arrived at Hellingly after walking across the fields and through a wood on the Wealdway path from Gun Hill. The village centre was a surprise to many on the walk with its attractive buildings and cottages and beautifully kept flower borders in the churchyard. We had encountered an aged fox when entering the wood on this first part of the walk when walking out the route. The fox had not appeared to be aware of use until we got fairly close, but today the 23 members walking would have given him better warning of our visit to his patch.

Our return journey crossed the busy A267 outside Hellingly village and we crossed a field to miss a water-logged path but met a good deal of mud on the rest of this woodland stretch due to recent rain. The bluebells were just beginning to show buds on this part of the walk. Crossing the fields we encountered some lively horses but these were distracted by one of our members whilst the rest of us dealt with an electric fence and a couple of dodgy stiles. We thankfully had managed to find an alternative path to the aptly named Boggy Wood and ventured on across a huge field down to a long bouncy bridge over a stream. A couple more fields and we arrived back at the lane from Gun Hill passing a beautiful old farm house with timber framed porch and pond complete with white ducks. This was a varied walk which, as one member put it 'continually opened out to different vistas'. The leader was pleased to show members such a pretty village. We arrived back at Gun Hill and 17 of us had a good lunch at The Gun. Thanks to Sue for leading.

East Hoathly

On Wednesday 24 March Rosemary and Sylvia led a walk around East Hoathly. 21 people started from East Hoathly church, following the Wealdway signs through an enclosed path with spring flowers of primroses, wood anemones and celandines alongside the path. After crossing the A22 we followed a drive to Hesmond 's Stud and passed a display of daffodils and really old gnarled trees, which gave a beautiful display along the drive.

Skirting right of the stables we then went ahead following the Wealdway through Great Wood with well-advanced bluebells soon to be coming out in their floral display. The stiles of this part of the Wealdway are sturdy and well maintinaed. Leaving the Wealdway behind we passed a caravan site out to a lane where we passed Crouch 's Farm with a beautiful oast house and shortly stopped for a coffee break, the weather being very kind at this point with the sun shining. Crossing over fields and several stiles as we made our way under high pylons a few pheasants were spotted on the way over to a wood.

Soon a short lane had to be walked until we arrived at Hope Farm and then across several fields and stiles which had notices giving information about Thomas Turner of Easy Hoathly who was a mercer (a dealer in cotton), diarist and teacher. After crossing a sleeper bridge and through a wood and paddock, we emerged again onto the A22. Crossing over this we passed the pavilion in the recreation ground and back out to the path leading to the church where we started the walk.

A few short showers were had during the walk but most of the time it was dry with little mud and very enjoyable in the country air with the birds singing as we walked along.

Rogate and the River Rother

On Sunday 21 March 15 members set out on a 10-mile (although one member commented he was sure it was 17 miles), all-day walk around Rogate in West Sussex. On a sunny but windy day we set off from Tullecombe Woods car park just north of Rogate. A short road walk past security-protected stables brought us to a path through the woods. It was good to see coppicing going on with chestnut posts and other products being made on site. We picked up a Green Lane through more woods. Like so much of this walk the lane was very sandy and a pleasure to walk on. we turned off the lane to a footpath that took us through a tree nursery with row-upon-row of trees of various ages. We picked up another sandy track, now in pouring rain, with a puddle which stretched across the lane for quite a distance and challenged us to get by without getting water over the top of our boots and so to a footpath behind Chithust Manor. Walking beside the first house in Chithurst we admired the topiary of a whale or maybe some mystical creature. The quaint church in the hamlet of Chithurst like so many small churches only had a service once a month. We followed the road down to the A272, crossing to a footpath which took us to the Keepers Arms. Some braved the showers to eat their picnic on the heath but the majority enjoyed lunch at the Keepers Arms who made us very welcome.

Refreshed, we set off across heath land, woods and fields to Dumpford and out onto Dumpford Lane. The lane was narrow so that every time a car came past we had to find refuge on the side. After a short distance we turned off to a bridle path which eventually took us to Sandhill Farm, where Gordon, the leader of the walk was brought up during World War II. Through the farm and then to join a path alongside the Rother. A wooden bridge took us over the Rother and we began our ascent towards Fyning, passing the imposing Fyning House. Crossing the A272 with care, we followed the path up the hill through the woods, with primroses on the banks ending up, after a bit of a climb, back at the road to the car park, tired but happy. The walk was led by Eileen and Gordon.

Southwest of Warninglid

Wednesday 25th February's walk, led by Janet, started from the Half Moon public house in Warninglid. Eighteen of us set off through the charming little village on a cold but crisp and sunny morning. We headed south towards Routs Farm where it was interesting to see that the land had been contoured into steep and muddy slopes to provide a trials course for 4 x 4 vehicles. Very popular at weekends I believe. We continued south towards Old Mill Farm then turned east passsing a fine example of a restored Wealden hall house in a lovely setting by a small lake. Crossing through Nailards Wood everywhere bluebells were pushing through the soil reminding us of pleasures to come

Shortly after we took a coffee break where a few convenient logs provided seating. We then headed north through Wykehurst Park with glimpses of the imposing Victorian building over to our left. Walking through woodland and farmland it was evident we were in real riding country as we passed across several fields with grazing horses, who for the most part ignored us. After negotiating a very muddy gateway just north of Gravelies Wood we turned west again back towards Warninglid. We had pre-ordered our meals at the Half Moon so these were soon served as we warmed ourselves at the real log fire. We were joined by our president and several others. A few of us resolved to repeat the lovely walk when the bluebells are out.

Hooe

On 22 February the group visited Hooe. It was a bitterly cold morning and after leaving the Lamb Inn on the outskirts of the village, we we set off across the freezing windswept expanse of Hooe Level, with its water filled dykes and tall swaying reeds. After negotiating a very muddy path, we reached a road before dropping down beside Northeye Prison which seemed as though it was empty. We soon reached Hooe church which had been visible for some time across the fields. This lovely church is situated in an idyllic setting with the nearest houses barely visible a quarter of a mile away and only reached by a very narrow lane. Inside it was far from idyllic. Fortunately when no one was present, a large beam supporting the nave had crashed to the floor and disintegrated due to the destructive work of the death watch beetle. Restoration work was well in hand. Leaving the church we soon reached Wallers Haven and the Horsebridge before crossing fields back to the Lamb Inn feeling much warmer than when we started.

Three Downland Villages

The title of the walk on 25 January was such that we did not quite know where we were heading on a cold but sparkling and sunny morning. However, we were more than pleased to find that we would re-visit Wilmington and then walk the lovely remote downland tracks to Jevington and Folkington admiring the wonderful views to Hastings along the way. 22 people very much enjoyed the six-mile, hilly walks and thanks go to Philip for leading it.

Ringmer

On the 28 January, 22 members enjoyed a walk around Ringmer. It was a very cold, crisp morning, blue skies above but a sprinkling of snow on the ground. Starting from the Green Man public house, we took paths crossing fields and streams until we came to Broyle Lane. After a short distance we too a westerly path through muddy fields and a small show where daffodils and bluebell leaves were fast gaining height. We soon reached Norlington Lane and, after passing Swingate and the lovely Clayhill House with its lake, emerged on to the A26.

After a ten minute stretch of road we picked up a path at Upper Wellingham where we enjoyed a coffee stop with views of the snow covered Downs. After crossing the road by the Cock Inn we followed paths back towards the village. Throughout the walk there were 21 stiles, all icy and slippery, so with the amount of mud on our boots it was quite an achievement for everyone to arrive back safely at the Green Man where 19 members had an enjoyable lunch. Thanks to Jean and John for arranging the walk

Herons Ghyll

23 people were prepared to work up an appetite for lunch on 14 January as we set off from Barnsgate Manor Vineyard on a damp misty walk towards Ashdown Forest. Leaving the vineyard we followed the bridle path and then picked up the Wealdway through woods. There had been so much rain that the path was a stream. On crossing the bridge on the far side of the woods we struck off up the hill and headed towards Duddleswell Tea Rooms. Turning south along a paved track we met up with another walking group who, after an exchange of pleasantries, set off in another direction. After a short while we turned off the track to cross heathland where we stopped in sunlight for coffee with droplets of water on the silver birch glistening in the sunlight. We took a wide circle round through woods to return to the bridge we had crossed earlier. The Wealdway took us past Crest Farm and over the only stile on the whole walk. Heading east after a while brought us back to the vineyard in time to change for our annual lunch organised by Bert.

54 people enjoyed an excellent lunch in the restaurant at the vineyard, with many sampling the wine produced there. The walk was led by Eileen and Gordon.

Hadlow Down

On Sunday 11 January, we were treated to our first hints of spring on a walk led by Martin and Brenda. Not only did we enjoy a coffee stop at Hole Farm sitting on a bnak in the warm sunshine, we also found a glorious tree of hazel catkins in full swing and bluebell shoots pushing up through muddy undergrowth. With the lacy outline of winter birch trees against a clear blue sky, it was hard to believe is was still January.

19 people enjoyed this muddy woodland walk, and we arrived back at the cars just in time before it started raining again but with a rainbow in sight.

Wilmington

The weather on New Years Day was atrocious, some of us arrived at North Street car park convinced the walk would be cancelled but intent on making sure that our lunch booking at the Giant's Rest at Wilmington would remain. However, at 9.30am it stopped raining and those present, some somewhat reluctantly since they had not come with flasks etc., agreed to go ahead with the walk from Wilmington.

We left the car park at the Priory and took the field path with the Giant ahead of us. We soon reached the South Downs Way at Windover Hill and with the watery sun now breaking through the clouds, passed Holt Brow and then into the peace of Lullington Heath and down into Oldkiln Bottom where we were treated to delicious mince pies by the leader, Keith. At Winchester Pond we turned right and, with the beautiful valley which drops down to Lullington on our left, and walked steadily until the South Downs Way was re-joined. We then took a path just above the Giant's head and so back to our starting point.

Our day did not end there however. After a delicious lunch at the Giant's Rest we were invited back to Eileen and Gordon's home for tea and cakes. After a hesitant start we all enjoyed a delightful day.

Kingston

On 28th December it was up on the Downs on a bright day with a bitterly cold north wind blowing. The walk started from the Street in Kingston, we took a field path through to Swanborough, a path unknown to many, and then headed for the top of the Downs, a quite a steep climb. From here we dropped down into Stump Bottom and the into Balsdean Bottom. After following Falmer Bottom and skirting Castle Hill Nature Reserve we again had a climb back to the top of the hills and soon joined the South Downs Way from where we took the less steep descent to Kingston Ridge and then along Church Lane and back to the Street at Kingston. 15 people enjoyed this bracing walk led by Jan and Peter.

Mount Harry

Boxing Day morning was cold, musty and damp. but 12 members braved the weather and enjoyed walking from the bottom of the Motor Roads in Lewes to Mount Harry and back. With the misty weather, the views from the hill were not clear, but to compensate for this we were treated to a full-blown race between a horse rider and a Jack Russell terrier. With its tiny legs, the little dog was more than a match for the galloping horse. Back at the old race stands we stood aside to watch the Southdown Hunt go past and were courteously greeted by the riders. The walk was led by Bert who invited everyone back to his home for Christmas refreshments which were much enjoyed.

Firle

After the wet and windy weather of Saturday 13th December, Sunday dawned bright, crisp and clear and it was a joy to set off for a morning walk from Firle village with the Downs ahead of us. After a climb to the top of the hills, we reached the South Downs Way and continued along eastwards until Bo Peep was reached and a coffee stop taken with magnificent views to the sea. After continuing along the top of the Downs we then took a downhill path towards Berwick before turning west and following a track under the hills back to Firle. Although this path has recently been improved, we found it extremely muddy still in places. As we approached Firle Park, a hunt was gathering outside Firle House, a timeless scene. We paused to watch the hounds come streaking out and the hunt setting off to follow them. It was an invigorating 6.5 mile walk led by Graham and Jill with only one stile en-route.

Framfield

On Wednesday 10 December, Robert led 26 people on a morning walk through a variety of scenery round Framfield. From the church we made our way through fields and past a paddock to Palehouse Common and then through a recently reopened Framfield 9 footpath to Sandhill Lane. After stopping for refreshments we continued to Honey's Green and Pump Lane before returning across mainly green fields and some well placed boarding which lifts the footpath out of the mud, until we arrived back to the church. Although we had started out in thick mist, the sun was out on our return. Many stiles, or in two cases , plain fences, were encountered on the public footpaths and remedial work is necessary on some of them. Nevertheless it was a pleasure to enjoy a walk in rural surroundings.

Goddards Green

Our walk on Sunday 30 November was led by Hilda and Graham. 20 people enjoyed a delightful circular ramble which started at Goddards Green, just west of Burgess Hill. Cobb's Mill with its old water wheel was much admired on the path between Hickstead and Sayers Common. After the recent wet weather it was very soggy underfoot, but nevertheless a joy to be out in the countryside again.

Windmill Hill

There is a lot of hidden Sussex to discover between the A265 and the A271 in Warbleton District. Names such as Bodle Street Green, Great Buckstepe and Brownbread Street conjure up visions of buns and cottage loaves. There are windmills on the horizon too. Grace led a ramble in this area on Sunday 16 November which started at Ash Inn in Brownbread Street.

These lingering sunny days of autumn are too good to stay indoors. Time enough for that when winter really gets a grip. In this gentle rolling, hilly landscape, beech, oak and chestnut leaves lie deep in the woods and pile up on gullies of wheel tracks and old drovers paths. Dappled sunlight filters through branches, the earth is soft with recent rain and pheasants run for cover. In this idyllic countryside, acient tracks and footpaths were there to be discovered but some paths had been rerouted, some had no sign posts and others decaying stiles and footbridges. One stile had been removed and replaced by a wire fence with two strands of barbed wire atop. Getting 27 people safely over this obstruction took a lot of ingenuity and help from strong men of the party. This situation could so easily have caused an accident and has been reported to the Rights of Way section at ESCC.

After all this excitement, there was a warm welcome and an excellent meal awaiting us at Ash Inn. Thanks to Grace for leading this difficult but beautiful walk

Chailey

North Common Chailey and Beyond was the description of our walk on the12th November and it was a joy to see the Common, as yet unfenced, in all its autumn glory. Starting from Chailey Sports Club car park on the Haywards Heath Road, we crossed the road by the post office and took a path to Chailey Windmill and around the old chapel and hall which once belonged to Chailey Heritage but which is now a luxury flat complex. We then took a downhill path through high russet-tinted bracken until we reached the northern edge of the Common. Then it was across fields to Noven Farm. From here, we headed for a large lake which was shown on the map, but found it almost completely silted up vegetation; a paradise no doubt for birds and other wildlife. We headed for Hammonds Farm where we crossed the Sussex Border Path and soon found a warm and sunny spot for coffee.

Soon Butterbox Lane was reached and after a short stretch the route turned right onto the Sussex Border Path again. We passed Lindfield Farm with its variety of horses and Shetland ponies and then Broadwater House before rejoining the boundary of the Common. We took the uphill path through the Common quite near Warr Hill Lane and could just glimpse the sad remains of the old Chailey Heritage Hospital, a site which will soon become a new housing development. After gaining the high ground again we walked along he ridge of the Common with beautiful views in all directions, before dropping down and joining our post office track again. 18 members enjoyed this walk which was led by Jeannette

Balcombe

A vivid blue sky was the perfect backdrop against which to view the beautiful autumnal colours on our walk on Wednesday, 15th October. Twelve members of Lewes Footpaths Group set off from Balcombe for a walk led by Graham and Jill.

On leaving the village by way of the cricket field, we took a diversion to avoid a path closed for bridge repair and made our way via Balcombe Lake towards Ardingly reservoir. From here we followed the track alongside this now rather depleted expanse of water to its southern end for a lunch stop. It was very pleasant to sit at picnic tables in warm sunshine to enjoy the break.

The afternoon section of the walk required more effort as we climbed quite rapidly in a westerly direction with views back over Ardingly College and over to Ouse Valley viaduct. We admired Balcombe Place and heard details of its history before continuing through Pilstye farm and Pilstye wood back towards Balcombe. After crossing, with care, the busy B2036 and the main railway line, we continued back into the village to enjoy tea and cakes at the Balcombe tea shop. All that remained was a short stroll back to the main road where we had left our cars.

Punnetts Town

On Wednesday 17 September, Robert led us on a six-mile walks in a very rural area, mainly between the B20696 near Punnetts Town and the A265 Burwash Common road. The country between these two roads in this unspoilt area gave us views from its ridges which were spectacular with the trees just beginning to show their autumn colours.

This walk will be remembered not only for its beautiful countryside but also for the very many stiles en-routs in various states of accessibility, and one nearly lost and overgrown path which tested the map reading skills to the limit.

Rudgwick

On Sunday 21 September, Bert led an all-day walk around Rudgwick in West Sussex on a very hot day. The ground n this area was unbelievably cracked and dry and the grass crisp and scorched, much drier than had been seen on the previous walk in East Sussex

The walk left Rudgwick in a generally southerly direction until Exfold Farm was reached to the south of Bucks Green and the infant River Arun was crossed. Soon after this, the group sought some much needed shade where a picnic lunch was taken. Plodding on through parched and cracked fields, we passed Colins Cross and Warhams before crossing the Downs Link path and on to a house near Violets Farm with a wonderful hedge of very tasty raspberries. After crossing the A281 again, we were soon heading back to Rudgwick after a very hot but enjoyable walk.

East Dean and the Seven Sisters

Fifteen walkers et off on Sunday September 7th from the Tiger Inn at East Dean to walk a number of the Seven Sisters. Leaving East Dean from the top of the village, we followed the meadows, west of the road to Birling Gap, then crossed the road to Birling farm, heading for the Belle Tout lighthouse where we stopped for coffee. In spite of the forecast, the sun was fast drying any morning dew, so we ;azed on the thick turf looking out at the mill-pond sea with just the odd yacht attempting to make progress on a windless morning.

We then walked ti Birling Gap and onwards, completing four of the seven sisters before turning inland along the valley and through the sleepy cottages and larger flint-stoned houses that make up the isolated hamlet of Crowlink. The birds and insects had still left us plenty of ripe blackberries which we devoured as we headed up the track to the cattle grid and over the stile. A meadow full of late summer flowers took us to the top of the hill where we saw East Dean again below us. We soon reached the Tiger Inn, overflowing as usual onto the Green and enjoying its usual hospitality. Thanks to Michael for leading another pleasant outing to this famous area of Downland

Windsor Coach trip

On 31st August, members enjoyed a coach trip to Windsor where there was an opportunity to enjoy a superb walk in Windsor Park, a tour of the castle or a look around Windsor itself.

This was the last of our three coach outings for this year which have enabled us to walk in quite different areas. Thanks to Bert for arranging them

Fringe of the Forest

We were glad of relatively cool temperatures on our walk on Wednesday 20th August. This 5.5 mile walk was led by Jan and Peter. 24 members enjoyed this circular walk from Balls Green, which is within the parish of Withyam, just north of the Ashdown Forest, and looks down to the River Medway. With an early harvest we walked across dry, cracked, stubble fields instead of through crops as we left Balls Green eastwards. After passing through Cherry Gardens PYO farm we were glad to find shade in Jackey Wood where we were near the gardens of Penns in the Rocks. After a coffee stop, Lye Green was soon reached and we then took a footpath along the edge of Coppice Wood where we enjoyed a picnic lunch with a very persistent horse. The path then took us to Withyam before returning to Balls Green. A very enjoyable walk and picnic.

Ripe

On a warm evening on 6th August, 24 people turned up for the walk led by Bert across fields and down lanes around Ripe. We passed in front of Deanland Park with its caravans and mobile homes and we learnt how this area had been used as an emergency landing area for planes returning from across the channel during World War II. Following this walk we enjoyed a good supper at the Lamb Inn at Ripe.

Broad Oak

Seven brave souls and one child met as usual at North Street car park, probably never expecting that this day would be the hottest day ever recorded in this country. Starting at Brede, Colin, who deserves a medal, led a circular walk which visited Broad Oak enroute. Paths in this area were very overgrown and difficult to find which did not help on such a hot day. Everyone arrived back safely, hoping for cooler temperatures for the next walk.

Rye Harbour

The group visited Rye Harbour on Sunday 27 July for a walk around the nature reserve. The speaker at our last social evening, Ian Lumley-Dawson, had awakened our interest in this area and we looked forward to seeing some of the birds and other wild life that he had so beautifully photographed. We parked near the Martello tower and walked down to Lime Kiln Cottage which is now used as an information centre, and then on to the beach with views across Camber Sands to Dungeness.

We were lucky that the weather was good at this point but grateful that there was a bit of a breeze to keep us cool. We took full advantage of the bird hides; the first at Ternery Pool with a view across the lake to the colony of cormorants and ringed plovers and other birds on the islands, We lunched on the beach with some taking shelter from the breeze behind the deserted lifeboat house and others picnicking in between the breakwaters. We continued on through completely different terrain across fields to a further hide on Castle Water and here the hide gave us not only a view of further birds, including crested grebe and geese and a few more cormorants, but also protected up from very heavy rain splashing on the lake in front of us.

We continued on across a field to the nearby Camber Castle, built by Henry VIII as part of the defence of this coastline, but now situated well away from the sea. With a further promise of rain we sped across the fields back to the Rye Harbour road, with rain becoming a reality. On our return journey to Lewes, most of us rounded off the day with a visit to a quaint tea shop for tea and cakes in the beautiful town of Winchelsea. This interesting day was organised by Sue.

Barns Green

On Wednesday 23 July a 5.5 mile walk was led by Rosemary and Sylvia around Barns Green, near Horsham. 14 members started walking along the Downs link path of the old railway. After walking through a few fields with several inquisitive cows watching us, the pace went a little faster when a bull was also spotted. We passed Little Stammerham Farm, with a beautiful farmhouse of brick with timber and a Horsham stone roof, and a very attractive pond complete with ducks. When the new railway was reached, we continued to walk beside this along fields and a pond on the left, after which we passed underneath the railway to eventually come out opposite the village hall of Barns Green.

Walking along the road and passing by the houses of Barns Green, many pretty gardens were observed, until we cut through a narrow path leading out to the railway once more. This had to be crossed with great care as trains sped by quite frequently. On reaching the far side we stepped over a stile into a newly mown hay field and decided to stop for coffee. Following refreshment we continued over a footbridge and fields out onto a road directing to Coolham. More fields were passed with lovely grasses and the remains of foxgloves. It was noticed how dry the ground was with large cracks in the soil.

As we made our way through Marlpost Wood and Birch Wood, it was great to, have a little shade, as although cloudy most of the time it still seemed quite warm. We then skirted around a lovely house with a swimming pool and it was thought that a short dip would have been very inviting. A concrete drive led to Birchwood Cottages with attractive gardens. A little further along the lane two stiles were climbed and then we walked into an oat field which was ready for cutting, but we had to go through this and it was really rather tall. Soon we were back on the Downs Link path once again and back to our starting point at the Bax Castle pub where a meal was enjoyed by all the walkers.

Springhead Hill to Burpham and back

Just so that we did not get withdrawal symptoms from the South Downs Way, Frank led a delightful walk from Kithurst Hill near Storrington on Sunday 13 July. This was only a few miles west along the South Downs Way from Washington where we finished our trek on the Friday before.

This walk, however, left the long distance route and turned south towards Wepham Down. From here, a path and bridleway was followed into Burpham. Here a turn to the north again took us past Peppering farm and High Barn alongside crops of fully ripened peas, barley, oats, wheat and oil-seed rape in full flower. The six miles was completed by a short walk along the South Downs Way, a taste of next year as we walk from Washington to Winchester in July 2004.

Eight people, including three who had just completed the five days of the South Downs Way, enjoyed this lovely walk on a very hot day.

Rottingdean

On Sunday 29th June, Jean and John led a walk from the main car park in Rottingdean. It was beautiful summer morning and 18 members set off taking the clifftop path westward enjoying the wonderful sea views and being entertained by a very tame baby jackdaw who posed at opportune moments for a member‘s new camera. We crossed the coast road below Roedean School, skirted the grounds and took a slow climb eastwards, pausing to look back at Brighton Marina and beyond. We took a coffee stop at the top of the hill with views of Ovingdean and Rottingdean windmill. Our walk eventually headed seaward, dropping down to Rottingdean. We strolled through Kipling‘s delightful walled garden to the village pond and admired the delightful buildings and gardens as we made our way back to the car park.

Horsted Keynes

On Wednesday June11, Jeannette led an all-day 9.5 mile circular walk from Horsted Keynes, visiting Lindfield en route.

From Horsted Keynes we took the downhill lane towards the church and then struck off in a westerly direction through fields and woods and over the Bluebell Railway line, taking care to walk in single file through the almost fully ripened hay fields to protect this important winter cattle crop.

We crossed the B2028 from Lindfield into Hoad Lane which took us through beautiful ancient woodland now resplendent with an undergrowth off fresh grown ferns and the purple spires of Foxgloves. Here we found a tranquil glade for our coffee stop. Leaving woodlands we encountered an overgrown footpath and after much and thrashing about with sticks and scratched and stung legs and arms, we emerged into the garden of Hillhouse Farm and onto a lane which took us to Buxhalls. After crossing the infant River Ouse, we reached Fullingmill Farm where some members took the opportunity to purchase plants destined for the WI market.

We soon reached the lovely village of Lindfield and took time to admire the historic buildings and beautiful gardens there. From Lindfield we picked up the Diamond Way long distance path which took us down to the River Ouse again, where we took a leisurely picnic lunch in the sun. Following the river for a while we reached East Mascalls Farm with its caravans and continued eastward passing Cockhouse Farm and its thousands of ducks and across fields until we recrossed the Bluebell Railway and skirted the quarries of Freshfield Brick Works. Crossing Freshfield Lane, we took a little known path to emerge at beautiful Butchers Barn where we left the Diamond Way and joined the Sussex border path. Recrossing Freshfield Lane we started on the steep descent to Hole House and then onto the long ascent through Sandpits Wood and back to Horsted Keynes.

From here, hot, tired and thirsty, we drove back to Sarita ' s tea shop at North Chailey for a welcome cup of tea. Fourteen members enjoyed this beautiful summer ' s walk in perfect weath

Kirdford

Kirdford, a village near Wisborough Green in West Sussex, was the meeting point for the 5 mile walk led by Colin. Eleven members enjoyed walking in a beautiful area, unknown to most of us. Kidford was, until recently, the centre of a large apple growing area and a major source of employment, but sadly this seems to have vanished without trace. Starting from the Half Moon Inn, we took a footpath through a beautifully kept stud farm, complete with many hanging baskets, we then walked through fields and woods still full of flowers, the primroses first seen in February still lingering among the bluebells in mid-May. We passed large lake-like irrigation reservoirs, perhaps once used by the apple growers, and admired the rape fields which provide a bright splash of colour on a cloudy day. Stopping for a coffee break at Walthurst Farm, we saw two horses and traps with passengers, one answer to rural transport problems. We skirted through Wephurst Furze and followed paths linking Hollands Heath Farm and Herons Farm before returning to Kidford and the Half Moon for lunch.

Dormansland

With the forecast looking gloomy and the skies somewhat leaden, 12 brave souls set off on Saturday afternoon for a 5 mile circular walk to the east of Dornamsland.

Heading out across fields we soon left roads and houses behind us but unfortunately not the sound of aircraft since we were under the flight path for Gatwick. The path followed the edges of fields with ragged robin growing in the hedges and the wheat beginning to show some height. After crossing the Vanguard Way, we came across the first of two badger sets. Passing over a well made bridge we continued on through New Barns Farm and along the track to the road where we turned south. Passing Greybury Farm with its converted oast house we entered Jules Wood, After stopping for a short coffee break we saw much recent coppicing, noting how quickly the trees put up new shoots. Climbing the hill we joined the Sussex Border Path and headed west for a short distance. At this point the rain started; light at first but enough to make us zip up coats.

Turning north through Reynolds Wood we came down the hill on the Vanguard Way before turning west towards Home Farm with its lakes and carpet of wild flowers. At this point it really started to rain in earnest and we were glad of the shelter of Dairy Wood for a while. We passed Greathed Manor, whose gardens are open to the public, and returned to the start. The plan was to have a picnic at the end of the walk but the rain put us off, so we returned to our cars and headed home. Thanks to Gordon for leading the walk

Coach to Emsworth

From Emsworth we walked to Bosham enjoying a 7.5 mile walk of complete contrast to the week before in the Kent hills. We left Emsworth in a southerly direction but soon turned to walk across the top of Thorney Island and then to Prinstead Point for coffee where we enjoyed the views over the muddy estuary towards Chischester harbour. After rounding the head of Thorney Channel we made for Chidham and the Bosham Channel where Bosham seemed very close. We had a chilly lunch break and soon found that Bosham was near but very far! We had to walk up thw western side of the channel until we reached the A27 and the sign Snow Goose, then along the top of this water and down the other side until Bosham was reached, where most of us header for a hot cup of tea. Bosham church was visited and the village much admired. A most enjoyable day out, arranged and led by Bert.

Kent Hills

The eight mile walk started from Ide Hill which is situated at a high point on the Greensands Way. By lunchtime we had reached Chartwell, Winston Churchill's home, and ate our picnic lunch on a slopeabove the car park, which by this time was completely full, the gates shut and people being turned away.

We were thankful to return to the peace of the woods and enjoy the sight and heady scent of of the most glorious carpet of bluebells that we have seen this year. Emerging from the woods, we were greeted with stunning views across the Weald towards the South Downs as we made our way over toy's Hill and then back to Ide Hill. A perfect walk led by Robert and rounded off with a welcome tea at a delightful old tea romm in Penshurst.

East Chiltington

So often, Good Friday can be a very cold and windy and picnics ruled out. However, this year we were fortunate to have a sunny and warm afternoon for our walk which was organised by Colin.

This five mile circular walk started from East Chiltington and took us across fields, down lanes and through woods. The woods were at their best with a magnificent carpet of wild flowers, primroses, milkmaids, bluebells and the delicate wood anemones, sometimes called windflowers. Someone even spotted and early spotted orchid. We ended the walk with a picnic under a hedge in the warm sun with a beautiful view of the South Downs ahead of us. At Est Chiltington, the ladies of the village had begun their floral arrangements for Easter and they welcomed us inside for a preview, a fitting end to a lovely walk.

Laughton

On a hot and sunny Wednesday morning, 18 members left the Roebuck Inn car park for a 5.25mile walk around Laughton, the original seat of the Pelham family. We crossed the busy B2124 and headed along the lane opposite the All Saints church, with its solid square tower, decorated with the Pelham buckle, and with many members of the Pelham family interred in its vaults. We continued round the church yard and followed a path through thin woodland carpeted with celandines, wood anemones and bluebells, emerging into sheep pasture. Passing through a swing gate we turned right then left and followed a diverted path bordered by flowering hedges to Willow Shaw farm, then across two pasture fields. We headed for the prominent tower of Laughton Place, 50ft high and all that remains of the moated former Tudor mansion built for the Duke of Newcastke, a member of the Pelham family, and now privately owned. Here in some welcome shade by the moat we took a coffee break and watched several gliders from the nearby club wheeling slowly round on the thermal currents.

We set off again through a rickety gate and passed through two fields of sheep and lambs, crossing drainage ditches by stout footbridges. We took a long northerly track to Old Barn, passing Laughton Place farmhouse, until we reached a lane leading to Colbrans Farm. We continued through a gap in the hedge opposite, past a derelict flint barn, and headed towards the B2124, which we followed westwards until until we came to a metalled track leading to Broyle Park Farm, the path inclined up a grassy bridelway, muddy and rutted in parts, past a wooden chalet overlooking a fishing lake, we eventually turned due east through two farm gates. We skirted Laughton Common along a farm track, and were entertained by a flock of sprightly guinea fowl.

We continued until we reached a lane, and opposite over a stile we walked through a field of sheep and lambs and descended by a pretty winding woodland path, the canopy underplanted with bluebells, with glimpses of the water tower of the former hospital through the trees. After crossing a footbridge we kept to the left hand edge of the wood until we came to the Shortgate / Laughton lane, which we followed until we turned into Brickhurst Lane. Continuing past some attractive cottages, we turned east at the entrance to Prospect Farm and took a footpath which the group had recently cleared, round a duck pond with tiny ducklings. This path emerged conveniently by the side of the 14th century Roebuck Inn, where we enjoyed a leisurely lunch in the garden.

Groombridge

On April 6, a grey day, saw twelve members begin a 4.7 mile walk from Birchen Wood car park. A cold wind was blowing as we walked across fields and a rabbit warren to reach the woods known as the Warren. Clumps of primroses were seen alongside this path but the wood anamonies and celandine remained firmly shut against the dull sky. We had our coffee break at Eridge rocks then continuerd throught the woods and after negotiating a small waterlogged gorge we roadwalked a short distance back to the crossroads by the red telephone box at Park Corner. We saw some early bluebells and a group of Shetland ponies as we walked down Puddle Lane, passing a beautiful Victorian house, an Oast House and waterfall until we heard the sound of the climbers at Harrisons Rock.

We followed the path beneath the climbers then back through the woods to the car park. A well earned meal was had at the Huntsman pub at Eridge station. A good time was had by all and it was a shame our colleagues who were holidaying in the Cotswolds missed the event. Thanks to Martin and Brenda for leading the walk.

Poynings

In overcast weather with the sun trying to make an appearance every so often, a party of 15 set of from the Royal Oak pub eastwards to explore the fields and by-ways around Poynings. Taking a path that took us to the back of the village we came out opposite the old village school, now just a nursery. The path went through the grounds of the school and thence across fields to the roundabout on the outskirts of the village. We crossed the A281 at the roundabout, then walked through fields of sheep until we hit the lane into Newtimber.

The ancient lane, with high banks, led down past the church on our right. At the corner we picked up the path that runs through the grounds of the imposing Newtimber Place, with a moat (whether full of water or not, we could not see). We noted that the gardens were to open to the public this coming weekend. We followed a stream with watercress growing and ducks swimming. Just before Locks Green Cottage we turned back on ourselves, through Locks Green farm, across more fields to Park Cottages. Some of the party bought free range eggs at a bargain price at the farm shop where one puts the money down a pipe and takes change from a jam jar. We carefully crossed the A281 again and headed across fields of horses to Poynings Grange Farm. This farm is an equestrian centre with stabling and tack rooms and dozens of horses in the surrounding fields. A large number of friendly dogs greeted us as we entered the farm yard and they escorted us off the premises. We were now west of Poynings and heading west. At Brook House we turned east again and so back to the Royal Oak for lunch.

A walk of streams, fields and views of the Downs. Thanks to Eileen and Gordon for leading the walk.

Isfield

28 members and friends, a large number for a mid-week walk, enjoyed a five-and-a-half mile walk around Isfield in perfect weather. The walk was taken from our booklet Ten Walks in and Around Lewes. On this beautiful clear and sunny morning we left the Laughing Fish at Isfield and followed paths, westwards, through fields, now beginning to dry out again, until we crossed the A26 Lewes to Uckfield road. We then walked along the outskirts of Plashett Park and admired the string of lakes to our right and flora to our left, masses of now lengthening bluebell shoots interspersed with flowering primroses along a mossy bank on the edge of a coppice.

Turning northwards we soon emerged onto the lane to Bentley and after passing South Brockwells Farm, we strode across fields until we again had the busy A26 to cross, just south of Wicklands. From here it was a westerly direction through fields, crossing Horstead Lane and then a bridge over the Lavender Line and looking down on various trucks and engines that had seen better days, soon we reached Isfield Lane but instead of walking back to the village along the road, we took the lane to Isfield church. This detour was well rewarded as the beauty of the church and churchyard was enhanced by magnificent drifts of different shades of daffodils, a scene which would grace any March calendar. We crossed the river Uck and stopped to look back to admire the buildings of Isfield Place and to wonder at its origins. We were soon onto Isfield Lane again with its ditches of brightly painted yellow celandines sparkling in the sunshine, and also back to the Laughing Fish where quite a few of us enjoyed a very good lunch. Thanks to Robert for leading the walk.

Ripe

On a blustery Sunday recently, 24 members went on a 6 mile field-path walk linking the villages of Ripe, Chalvington, Berwick Station and Selmerston. Starting from the Lamb Inn in Ripe, we took the lane to Ripe church, and, to the sound of bells, we made our way across pasture and a field of wallflowers to tiny Chalvington church. In its graveyard we admired the millennium seat and a tombstone to a young boy, who in the nineteenth century, died, following a kick from a horse. Through fine memorial gates we emerged onto a lane and then, beyond Church Farm, round the muddy edge of fields sown with broad beans to Langtye Lane.

We followed the Vanguard Way up a gentle incline, through Mays Farm, past impressive Mays House. which was visible for much of the walk. We made a brief stop for coffee in the shelter of a flint barn overlooking the manicured gardens of Ludlay, then continued along the Vanguard Way, through the copse and over the level crossing at Berwick Station.

Climbing slightly, through a field of young broccoli, we headed due west along a grassy track, past Stonery Farm towards Selmerston. This higher path afforded fine views of the South DOwns and the Weald and glimpses of Arlington Reservoir. After carefully negotiating a particularly muddy path, which only a few weeks previously had been completely under water, we continued down a track bordered by snowdrops and entered Selmerston churchyard to look at the memorials to Rev. W Parish, author of the Dictionary of Sussex Dialect, and F Mockford, originator of the Mayday call. Leaving Selmerston, we followed a path between houses and headed north-west, eventually crossing the railway line over two high styles. We continued in the same direction over wet fields to reach Langtye Lane again. We heard the distant sound of a fire engine going towards Ripe and jokingly suggested it might be heading for the Lamb Inn. Crossing the lane we followed the path apposite through the garden of Langtye Cottage, across a donkey field and a newly sown turn filed to reach the lane leading to Ripe. Over a recently constructed footbridge, we continued along a path to the east of the road between houses and paddocks to emerge alongside the Lamb Inn, only to find the aforementioned fire engine in the car park, having attended a chimney fire . Despite the disruption which this must have caused the lunchtime trade, we were made very welcome and enjoyed a convivial lunch to round off a rather muddy walk. Thanks to Hazel for leading the walk.

Woodingdean

The weather for the walk was grey but dry and mild with a south westerly breeze. 13 set of from the car park and met another small group of ramblers who told us they were members of the Crawley Probus group walking to Kingston for lunch at the Juggs Inn. Wishing each other good walking, we started off up Bullock Hill, forking left at the tall radio mast, following the path round to Standean Bottom. In no time we were out of sight and sound of roads, cars or houses and could simply enjoy the patchwork of downland with its hawthorn trees and grazing sheet. We stopped to look at the plaque marking the site of the old Norman church then, passing farm outbuildings with vocal sheep, headed north to Balsdean Bottom and our coffee stop at the foot of s steep hill leading up to the South Downs Way. We admired the fabulous view over Kingston and picked out various landmarks in Lewes before continuing west along the South Downs Way for half a mile or so, then carrying on down Newmarket Hill and so back to the start. We had a enjoyed brisk walk of about six miles and were ready for refreshments at the nearby Downs Hotel.

Albourne ... The Stream By The Alder Trees"

I knew this walk like the back of my hand. I knew it would be safe, easy, not too long, and uneventful. There would be no concerns about getting back for lunch and no prospects of anything untoward happening. After all, I had walked it all the day before. I knew it to be a pleasant walk with fine views to the Downs, some rolling undulations, and something notable in the old church and manor. There might be a little bit of mud and the occasional sticky bit but this was Winter so what could we expect?

My first inkling of what lay ahead was when I woke in the morning to heavy rain. This was not unexpected as we had seen a lot recently, but I was concerned that this would deter fellow travellers. Moreover it was raining at that critical time of 8.00am when well-meaning walkers were struggling out of warm beds only to be faced with grey skies, more rain, and a bleak outlook. Not unsurprisingly many made the sensible decision to stay in bed. Not so for the six adventurers who turned up at North Street undaunted by the weather and willing to brave anything for a little exercise and a breath of fresh air in some classic Sussex countryside.

The first half of the walk was indeed pleasant and uneventful. We explored the outskirts of Albourne parish across some fields and at a brisk pace. Back around a pond fringed by hanging trees and through a farm stables. But it was here that we first came across a bit of the wet. A corner of the field was under water and we detoured with military precision in four parties all with different ideas about which way was driest, which was safest, and which most honoured the correct line of the designated footpath.

Beyond this was my favourite part of the walk. I love walking through fields with sheep as it is reminiscent of walking in the mountains of Wales and the Lake District and these fields were full of sheep. Indeed one field had only black sheep save for a solitary white one... the white sheep of the family.

Beyond this we dropped down into Church Lane which in normal times is a narrow road leading to the old church of St Bartholomew The day before this had been my choice for a break for snack and thermos tea as there was a seat, a charming outlook, and a narrow streamä but that was yesterday. Today the quiet stream had turned into a raging torrent and the road was nowhere to be seen. The seat was only just above water level and to reach it involved walking through a knee deep flood. We examined the maps to see if there was a way around but alas there was none, unless we turned back and retraced our steps, but naturally that was unthinkable.

So we headed on. Those with aspirations to the SAS or memories of scouts (the men of course) waded in undeterred by the turbulence, and picked our way along with a stick to gauge the depth as we went. After testing the water along the road for about 100 yards, we then returned to do the honourable thing and to practice our bush craft skills. With two of us linking our hands to make a small seat, we gallantly lifted each of the three ladies across the surging waters, to safety and a dry footing on the other side.

After a short break to admire the church and to empty our boots, we were off again to complete the walk. This was across lovely countryside past lakes and manors and was generally a much more conventional LFG walk. There was much of historical interest. The church dates from Norman times and has a single bell which was made by Peter the Potter in about 1300 - one of the oldest in Sussex. Albourne Place was hard to see behind the trees, but is a manor dating back to the 1400s. One of its most famous residents was Nigel de Broc who was one of Thomas A' Becket's three murderers. Just nearby is a serpentine lake where you can picnic or fish and where an enormous 10l b trout was caught some time ago (in fact nearly 300 years ago!).

After the adventures near the church the second leg was something of an anti- climax but we did have another minor river crossing to lift our spirits and the final walk through the village was dark and pretty and a fitting end to our efforts.

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