WALK REPORT ARCHIVE for 2009

This section contains WALK REPORTS for 2009.
Press the Index link to display the list of all walk reports.

Index

River & Downs North of Lewes - Saturday 26 December 2009
Boxing Day turned out to be rather wetter than forecast but this did not deter 11 hardy Footpaths Group members taking part in the morning walk led by Janet. We started off through Landport woods, then crossed a field down to the river and continued along the riverbank to Hamsey. Plenty of mud, but the skies cleared from time to time. From Hamsey we took the lanes (a respite from the mud) along to Offham and had our coffee stop in the porch of Offham church with the luxury of wooden benches to sit on. We crossed the main road and continued up the steep climb to the downs then turned left to follow the track above the chalk pits in the direction of Lewes. Shortly after passing the racing stables way off to our right we met the horses and riders of the traditional Boxing Day Meet, luckily on a parallel path some 100 yards to our right. They all looked so beautifully turned out but were no doubt soon to be splattered with mud! We continued past the dew pond and down to Spital Lane and so back to the town centre. We had intended to have lunch in The Crown Inn but the place was heaving with people who had come to see the Meet outside the White Hart, so decided to call it a day and return to our respective homes. We all agreed that the fresh air and chance to stretch our legs after the excesses of Christmas Day had been very enjoyable.

Index

Ashdown Forest - Sunday 13 December 2009
Our walk was a six mile round trip in Ashdown Forest, starting at the “Goat” car park on the road between Wych Cross and West Hoathly. Although it had rained for several days and it was very wet underfoot, there was a high turnout of 21 people. From the car park, we walked north to Lavender Platt, then we turned left onto an unmarked public footpath. It continued north, out of the woods, across a number of fields and two small hills towards Spring Hill Farm. There we joined a farm track, that would finally turn east towards Michael Hall Steiner School. We crossed the school grounds and reached the southern outskirts of Forest Row. Crossing the A22, we walked uphill through a pleasant estate with unmade roads towards the Golf Club. The public footpath would continue invisibly across the Golf Grounds, we had to find a way around the Greens and head for the right direction. Fortunately there weren’t many golfers around. At the other side, the footpath would end at the derestricted, busy A22 near a bend. We crossed it and headed west into Access Land, dropping down towards a stream. A long ascent followed on the other side through Heathland near Hindleap Warren. Then we crossed a minor road to continue on an uncharted footpath, heading South West back to the car park. This last leg of the walk was the wettest one underfoot. 14 people decided to join us to a well-deserved Sunday Roast in a nearby pub after this slightly exhaustive walk.

Index

Seaford to Exceat - Tuesday 8 December 2009
Due to the late withdrawal of the leader, Graham and Jill stepped in to lead the planned walk on Tuesday, 8th December. A small group of four left Lewes station for Seaford. Possibly recent weather conditions had deterred others from joining in, but it was in fact a dry and sunny morning with very little mud to worry about. There were not even any stiles to negotiate – the only hazard being a piece of the winter flood defence boarding to hurdle before reaching the seafront. Strolling along the promenade, we noticed a man sitting in front of his open beach hut enjoying the December sunshine. Having made the steepish climb up Seaford Head, we followed the cliff top along to Hope Gap, with glorious views of the Seven Sisters and Belle Tout lighthouse, and then onwards to the Cuckmere estuary. Here we turned inland continuing to follow the Vanguard Way until we reached the A259 by the Exceat Bridge. No sooner had we located the bus stop than a bus appeared to whisk us back to Seaford station. A train arrived almost immediately and we were soon back in Lewes.

Index

Kingston - Sunday 29 November 2009
A group of four of us braved the elements on a recent Sunday morning to walk on the Downs above the village of Kingston. We fully expected to get soaking wet several times, but we were lucky enough to complete the walk in dry weather. The sun even came out which took the chill off the very chilly wind. We set off from Kingston Church, walked past the new pavilion on the Green, which is currently being constructed, up a slippery chalk path and onto the South Downs Way towards Falmer. It was worth battling the wind to see the magnificent views of fields and woodland and of course the startling white windmill also under construction which can be seen from far and wide. It was with great pleasure that we turned into the shelter of Castle Hill Nature Reserve. Sadly the Exmoor ponies that had been grazing on the hillside just a few days before had gone. We carried on past the deserted hamlet of Balsdean and strode up the hill back onto the South Downs Way, happily with the wind behind us. We then enjoyed a well-deserved roast lunch in front of the fire at the Juggs feeling extremely invigorated.

Index

Tidebrook, Mayfield - Wednesday 25 November 2009
Several members recently took part in a delightful autumn walk in the weald around Tidebrook. Starting off in brilliant autumn sunshine they were able to traverse the new footbridge that the County Council has erected this year near Grubbins Wood before proceeding uphill to the sympathetically converted oasthouses at Cinderhill Farm. The walk continued along tracks and through a field with two inquisitive horses to the untidy remains of Sharnden Old Manor Farm. Before crossing the road at Coggins Mill the group had a coffee break and noticed an ominous cloud appearing. It was not long before a clap of thunder was heard and it rained but fortunately this was only light and after about 15 minutes it had stopped and the sunny conditions returned. However the walkers were not deterred by the rain and continued on to the entrance to Harewood Farm where excellent views were obtained. From here it was mainly downhill to the cars but it included fording a stream whilst some interesting newly built heated sheds were seen in a field for which their use was not apparent. Afterwards the majority had an excellent lunch in the Rose and Crown inn at Mayfield before returning to Lewes.

Index

Catsfield and Battle - Sunday 15 November 2009
Our walk was a five-and-a-half mile round trip from Catsfield (near Ninfield) in an easterly direction towards Battle. After several days with nearly continuous rain, this Sunday had sunny spells, with just one or two brief showers during the walk, but quite wet underfoot. We started at the Village Car Park and walked South-East, past Catsfield Manor towards Catsfield Place Farm. There we headed north along a Bridleway towards Stumblet’s Wood, then with a few tweaks in the path past Millers Farm and crossing the busy B2095, into Powdermill Wood. Farthing Pond inside Powdermill Wood is a beautiful spot, except the 6-foot metal fence that surrounded the pond (to prevent guests from nearby Powder Mills Hotel from angling?). Further north we joined 1066 Country Walk, coming from Battle. Now heading westward on a well-marked bridleway past Farthings Farm, the 1066 Country Walk suddenly turns left into Hoathy Bank Wood and up a little hill, then out of the woods across a meadow with shrubs. A lot of mushrooms here (or toadstools), but we didn’t try them! Crossing the B2204 and crossing another meadow, the path finally comes out along the pavement of the B2095 into Catsfield. Entering the village, we turned left to go past the old Catsfield Church (now a private dwelling!) back to the Car Park. The local pub offered a nice Sunday Roast to replenish energy.

Index

East of Nutley - Wednesday 11 November 2009
The weather forecast was not good and 11th November dawned a cold, grey and misty day. But it did not deter 17 members of the Group from a mornings walk east of Nutley on the Ashdown Forest

Starting at Friends Clump Car Park on the Crowborough Road we took the broad bridleway going south eastwards. The views were shrouded in mist and fine rain, which muted the autumn colours of the forest. The ground was sodden. Down hill we walked to the Airman’s Grave, not really a grave but a memorial cross with in a stone wall, marking the spot where a Wellington bomber, of 142 squadron, on the 31st July1941crashed in flames on its return flight from a raid on Cologne. It was a poignant spot; walkers and horse riders from Nutley had held a service of Remembrance on the previous Sunday and within the small enclosure were wreaths of poppies and crosses commemorating not only the 6 crew but also other local people who had died in combat.

We continued on the path down hill to the Misbourne stream, which eventually we crossed in the woods. Here it stopped raining and the sun briefly shone silhouetting the dark limbs of the trees and enhancing the glowing colours of the bracken and beech. At 11.0 o’clock we heard the distant boom of canon and we stood silently in a wide ride, under a golden beech tree for two minutes. The only sounds were a distant plane and the slow drip, drip, drip of raindrops from the tree. We paid our respects.

Then it was a steep climb back to higher ground and views. We headed for Nutley windmill, the oldest working open trestle post mill in Sussex, and to our surprise and delight, Brian Pike, of the Uckfield and District Preservation Society, there for maintenance welcomed us inside.

We had found a brief slot between wet weather fronts and were well rewarded for venturing forth.

Index

Balcombe to Haywards Heath - Tuesday 27 October 2009
10 people took part in a linear walk from Balcombe to Haywards Heath recently. By using the train to the start, and from the finish, of the walk the participants were able to leave their cars at home and contribute to a more sustainable environment. Many good views of the autumn tints were obtained as the walk took place in glorious sunshine although there were times when the sun was almost blinding when walking towards it. From Balcombe the walkers climbed through Pilstye Wood before dropping to the Ouse Valley Way near Sidnye Farm. After crossing a few fields the High Weald landscape trail was joined at Sparks Lane and this was followed to Whitemans Green where picnics were ate and liquid refreshment obtained at the public house. From there the ridge was followed past Gravelye Farm into Haywards Heath and the leader was pleased to note that the mud encountered on this section when a reconnaissance was undertaken in February had largely gone.

Index

Crowlink and Belle Toute - Sunday 18 October 2009
On Sunday 18th October, a glorious sunny day, seventeen walkers gathered at East Dean car park for a coastal walk. Led by Jenny we set off up a steep path towards the Crowlink National Trust area. The group then turned towards Birling Gap passing the, rather fluorescent, red barn on the hilltop. The views were wonderful as we descended the hill in unseasonably warm and bright sunshine. After climbing the hill beyond Birling Gap we stopped for a rest and admired the splendid views of sea and chalk cliffs. Revived after the break, we continued along the path, now redirected to the landward side of Belle Tout, which seems again, to be getting ever closer to the cliff edge. We returned to East Dean across rolling fields passing Cornish Farm and then through a field of sheep at the South Downs Sheep Centre, the developing clouds emphasising the beauty of the landscape.

Index

Autumn Tints: Burwash Common - Wednesday 14 October 2009
Lewes Footpaths Group held their Annual Autumn Tints Walk last Wednesday walking in the depth of the High Weald exploring the deep and remote valleys carved by the River Dudwell and Willingford Stream.

The Walk devised by Ben Perkins, not Bert the leader, was a varied walk through delightful landscapes of relatively small-scale pastures, extensive woodland and a network of small streams and a series of unfolding views.

It was a pleasure to welcome two new members and a guest to the walking party. We started from the Recreation Ground at Burwash Common, headed south on a slight climb for about 1˝ miles where a superb view of the Dudwell Valley opened out. Descending into the valley to cross the River Dudwell, then climbing and descending again for our first crossing of the Willingford stream. Turning east across Brightling Down with more climbing and undulations we reached our lunch stop, where geological evolution provided us with a grassy bank shaped like a long sofa to sit on, gazing over another valley with many various Autumn colours, albeit not as vibrant without the sun.

Following lunch we descended again to reach Willingford Lane to again cross the stream followed by a steep climb, then levelling out to a modest incline back towards Burwash Common with a grand view to the north of the Sussex Kent border. Finally completing our fairly strenuous circuit having been well rewarded with delightful countryside and autumn colours.

Index

Harvest Moon Walk: Housedean to Black Cap to Lewes - Sunday 3 October 2009
13 members took part in a Harvest Moon walk on Saturday evening which revived an earlier tradition of such walks. Having caught the bus to Housedean Farm the group walked up the South Downs Way to Bunkershill Plantation where a badger approached the leader and soon scurried off once it realised who we were. The descent in this plantation was the most difficult part of this night time walk but on leaving it the moon shone through the clouds and remained with us for the rest of the walk. Continuing on the South Downs Way we were intrigued to find a car with its lights on at Buckland Bank and a small party enjoying a camp fire at Blackcap where we stopped to enjoy the view and have refreshment. The return to Lewes was via the old racecourse and everyone was pleased that despite the wind it turned out to be a pleasent night.

Index

Lewes, Ashcombe, and Blackcap - Sunday 20 September 2009
Sunday’s walk was No 10 from Lewes Footpaths Group’s favourite walks. 17 of us set off on a perfect September day, dry and bright with occasional bursts of sunshine. Passing the prison on our left we climbed to the Old Race Course compound where an Open Day was in progress. Resisting the temptation of the hospitality tent we continued to the National Trust notice board where a cluster of dainty blue/mauve harebells was spotted then turned left through a wooded area before descending through two fields with spectacular views all around. We took our coffee stop at the bottom of the hill watching two horses emerging from the wood straining for a good gallop. We continued down into Ashcombe Bottom before passing through a gate, climbing to a small copse and then out into open country and upwards to join the South Downs Way. We followed the South Downs Way along the ridge, before turning right and taking the gently climbing path to Black Cap with its wonderful views, where we had lunch. Afterwards we descended gently, turned left into a wood and then down a steep, tricky path to Offham. After crossing the busy main road we followed the path through woods before turning left through a newish gate towards the river. All the gates in this part of the walk seem to have been renewed quite recently making for easy walking. A moment’s panic when the leader spotted the white faced bull which seems to be often in this area with his group of black and white heifers but he turned away off the path and the back walkers were not even aware of his presence. We continued along the river bank with a very high tide coming in and noticed a cormorant sitting very still on a wooden jetty. And so back to the start point. The walk was led by Janet.

Index

River Thames Marlow and Maidenhead to Windsor - Sunday 6 September 2009
The first Sunday in September saw the third of the Group’s annual coach trips walking alongside the River Thames. It took its usual format of a long walk(11 miles) led by Jill and Graham, a short walk (almost 7 miles) led by the Walks Organiser, Bert and some members spending an interesting day in Windsor.

The long walk started at Bourne End with the short walk beginning at Maidenhead and both walks finishing in Windsor. There were many interesting boating activities to observe on the river including Sculling, Rowing, Motor Boat Cruising and even Dragon Boat Racing, normally associated with the Far East part of the World.

Members who spent the day in Windsor visited various places of interest, also indulged in an open top bus ride and a boat trip on the Thames. The short party arriving in Windsor about three o’clock were able to visit places of interest and some enjoyed a trip on the open top bus.

The whole party comprised forty-five persons of whom six were guests from a Brighton group who found it an interesting walk and we all enjoyed one another’s company.

Index

Horstead to Five Ash Down - Sunday 23 August 2009
The sun shone and the bus was on time. (Apologies to anyone who missed the bus because the summer time table is five minutes earlier than the time on the walks programme) After alighting at Horsted Place the fifteen strong group proceeded down Hurst Green Lane, negotiated a field of cows and calves, crossed the River Uck, clambered up to Buckham Hill and stopped for the morning break perched on the sawn up remains of a very charred tree. The owner informed us that when the tree was being felled, the tree surgeons had set the leaves on fire (for unexplained reasons) and, because of the high resin content, the whole tree had gone up in flames; quite spectacularly apparently. The owner started his own fires directly with the wood and invited us to take as much as we wanted. A kind but impractical idea, given the very large size of the sawn up bits of tree trunk. A narrow path beside a stream running into the River Ouse took us to Shortbridge. After that the leader only managed to get lost twice whilst negotiating the golf course near Piltdown, a fine achievement given how carefully the golfers disguise the footpath signs. After a picnic lunch, protected from the increasingly fierce sun by the shade of a convenient tree, we continued our meander around the top of Maresfield, passing a Victorian cottage that had started out as a dog kennels. In the front garden were two huge redwood trees. They are wonderful, but not 15 feet from your front door. The afternoon break included blackberry picking for some and a snooze for others. Five Ash Down was reached after a couple of "grunts". ("Grunt" is a Kiwi term for a very steep climb) After the first we caught our breath in a lovely sun dappled hollow, after the second we just kept going, being eager to get to the pub, conveniently next to the bus stop. Pints of beer and other beverages were kwaffed in the 15 minutes before the bus arrived to return us to Lewes. Graham (Heap) led and mis-led the enterprise.


The corn was high as an elephant's eye.

..and after the grunt

Index

Devil's Dyke to Mile Oak - Wednesday 19 August 2009
15 LFG members were accompanied by one from the South Downs Society for an easy walk on the Downs on what was described as the hottest day of the year. After taking two buses, one of which was open-top, to get to the Devils Dyke, the party set off westward along the South Downs Way noting the fencing that was being erected in preparation for the pop concert over the bank holiday weekend. Further along they were also interested in watching some people practising the new sport of walking in an inflated ball. A break for a picnic lunch was taken in the col between Edburton and Truleigh Hills where the breeze cooled the walkers from the hot sun so that they could enjoy the magnificent view northwards over the Weald. The walk continued to Truleigh Hill and then southwards towards Southwick Hill during which some excellent views were obtained of the coastal conurbations and most were unaware that they had passed over the A27 tunnel. The end came all too quickly at Mile Oak where many of the walkers were invited to a cup of tea in the garden of one of them. The return to Lewes on two buses went smoothly and showed just how easy it is to use the public transport network to undertake walks in the countryside.

Index

Ansty - Sunday 9 August 2009
A recent Sunday walk was a five miles round trip from Ansty, West Sussex in a northeasterly direction towards Cuckfield. 22 people turned up at the starting point at the Ansty Cross Inn. To begin with, we took some footpaths along the back ways of Ansty heading south towards Hilders Farm. It hadn’t rained for a couple of days, so it was reasonably dry underfoot. We then headed east towards Copyhold Lane near Cuckfield, and along that path we had to cross a number of roads, but also two beautiful tucked away private gardens. There were a lot of ripe blackberries along that path that kept all of us going. We headed North through Lodge Farm for the Cuckfield By-Pass with two poorly maintained stiles on the way. We didn’t cross the by-pass, instead turned west again to complete a loop around Mackrell’s with beautiful countryside including a gorge with a little stream. Then we came to a well-marked footpath, heading back to Ansty. This path later became a driveway that would lead us straight back to the Ansty Cross Inn. A very filling Sunday roast was waiting for those people who decided to end the walk in the pub. Wolfgang led the walk.

Index

Barcombe Walk & Supper - Tuesday 4 August 2009
15 of us set off on our traditional summer evening walk and supper starting from the village of Barcombe Cross. The weather was perfect – warm sun, clear blue skies and dry underfoot. At the site acquired for the new village hall, we turned to follow clear field paths leading over the recently repaired Red Bridge towards Banks Farm, and its striking fortified barns. Ascending a narrow and deeply rutted path through a field of ripe wheat to Delves Farm, we paused to admire the views and then walked a short distance along Anchor Lane until we turned right along a footpath, to skirt fields. We reached a small copse near Lower Barn cottage, then heading south; we crossed a metal bridge, and followed the peaceful, grassy riverside footpath on the east bank of the Ouse. Here the wild flowers were abundant: rosebay willow herb, fading cow parsley, but most spectacular of all, pink Himalayan balsam, standing in favourable places over ten feet tall. We passed Barcombe Reservoir just hidden from view on our left. A large bull (not noticed by the leader) watched our progress impassively (fortunately). We left the river at Barcombe Mills; the last of the corn mills, from which the village takes its name, closed in 1939. We crossed the old Toll Bridge, and sat on its wall in the cool shade for a break for refreshments, listening to the sound of water tumbling down a fish ladder. Further on, Barcombe Mills station and the old Anglers Rest Inn, both now residential properties, were evidence of the past economic importance of this village, which is mentioned in the Domesday Book. Continuing uphill northwest across fields, we had clear views in all directions. We retraced our steps along Barcombe Mills Road and via a twitten, which brought us back to the High Street, and the lively village pub, where we were joined for supper by two non-walking friends.

Index

Berwick to Glynde - Sunday 26 July 2009
On a Sunday morning recently 14 walkers took the train to Berwick from where we walked to Glynde on the less well-known route, starting on the Vanguard Way to Stonery Farm and then continuing on a well-marked track to Firle. The sun came out almost immediately as we crossed a clear-cut pathway through fields of golden grain. On the other side, a gate opens to a path by two fields of close-cropped grass, with numerous rabbits bobbing about. The blackberries on the hedgerows are already starting to ripen, and gold and amber butterflies flutter across our path. Reaching Stonery Farm the way forks; Vanguard Way to the left, we however continue straight ahead, through a narrow gap in the hedge, then to a wooded area passing Selmeston Church on the right. A sharp left onto the lane, past the Church; a few hundred yards, and we face the busy A27, which we cross with care. Directly opposite an arrow points us over more fields, towards Tilton Wood. Then it’s up Mill Hill to two cottages (one of which is owned by a potter who sometimes walks with us) and time for "coffee break", with panoramic views of the Sussex Downs. Sunhats and sunscreen applied, we amble downhill again, through lush green pastures, songbirds singing. In one field a herd of black and white cows, sitting flicking their tails and snoozing in the warm sunshine. Ahead soon appears Charleston Farmhouse. We go up the gravel pathway, past the round pond with sculptured figures, the walled garden, and the Farmhouse itself. Behind it, two small black ponies are snorting and gambolling round a field, full of the Joys of Life! The next landmark on our route is Firle Tower. Built in 1822 by Viscount Gage, as a "Desres" for his gamekeeper. The Keeper would signal with flags to other employees around the park. The ground now starts to rise up again; a gate opens to a path through a field of maize, "as high as an elephant’s eye", well 6ft anyway! I notice hoof prints, and think it would be lovely to ride through this, like William Cobbett, on one of his Rural Rides. Next we see the grand old country house that is Firle Place, in the middle distance. It’s easy to see why this has become a favourite for period film locations. Scrambling across more grain fields and backs of gardens, we enter Firle Estate’s ancient parkland with sheep and random trees dotted here and there. Slipping through a gate on the other side, we see some pretty cottages, one with a bountiful fruit 'n veg garden, with home-made jams for sale (I buy some apricot). Up the hill another roadside stand with all kinds of homegrown vegetables for sale. Other walkers buy veggies of all sorts and stuff them into the tops of their backpacks and we head off down Firle High Street. Bicycles stand by the side of the road, a sleepy dog in a cottage doorway, then past the old Victorian flint-walled school. On to the cross roads, left turn past barns and fields to a lane, across theA27, into Glynde, and the Trevor Arms, in time for a possible drink before boarding the train back to Lewes. Whew!

Index

Fairwarp - Wednesday 22 July 2009
This was a walk with a difference. We were lucky with the weather getting one of those dry spells between summer showers. Fourteen walkers met at the Shepherds Car Park, north of Fairwarp Church for a truly varied walk around the village, some open heath land, field, streams and woods.

It is always difficult on the Ashdown Forest with new paths being trodden, old ones becoming over grown and woods increasing in area. I broke one of my principles not to take a group on a walk I had not reconnoitred in its entirety and while two of us searched for a way, a dozen walkers carried on down a track. I’ve never lost a group before but fortunately I had appointed an experienced person as a Back Stop who halted their progress and shepherded them back! All was well.

There were lovely views on the open forest, and we saw an adder basking in the warmth of the sun. Leaving it we went through woods to Boring Mill Farm and Cackle Street, what evocative names. I chose a sunny sheltered field for a rest stop then one of the men said to me “have you seen the bull? He was very calm and smiling. “What bull” I replied with out concern “you’re teasing me”. “Didn’t you see the sign ‘Bulls in Field’?” he said a little more earnestly. “What sign you’re joking,” I retorted fearlessly. “Over there” and he indicated. There sitting in long grass, viewing us, was a large brown beast whose horns could be seen quite distinctively, somehow the field no longer had the right ambience for a picnic so I didn’t hang around and moved a relieved group on!

Then using small paths, past Ford Bank we moved on to an area south of Fairwarp called Rock Wood. Here the path climbed steeply to join the Wealden Way .We made our way back to the village where we received excellent fare at the Foresters Arms.

Index

Coach Outing Cartwell & Emmetts Garden - Wednesday 8 July 2009
Our second coach trip of the summer season, which normally visits a place of interest, was Chartwell, the home of the late Sir Winston and Lady Churchill followed by a visit to Emmetts Garden.

On arrival the party were given a short presentation on the history of Chartwell and how Winston and Clementine had developed it and the impact it had on him. After some refreshment many of the group visited The Studio for an interesting talk on Winston the artist viewing many of his paintings hung in the studio. This was followed by a tour of the house overlooking the Weald, which he so loved, and said ‘A day away from Chartwell was a day wasted.’ The house has great warmth and feels like it is still lived in. The artefacts, records of the many facets of his colourful and distinguished life, photographs of many famous persons, in particular personalities associated with both the World Wars, his many decorations and orders and his numerous uniforms he wore at various times of his life together with the Museum contributed to a fascinating and interesting day. Following lunch some of the party walked through woods and fields to Emmetts Garden whilst others toured the garden having travelled there by coach.

Emmetts Garden is situated on the side of a hill overlooking Bough Beech Reservoir and the Weald. It comprises of a formal garden, a rock garden and another garden that is akin to a small arboretum, the viewing of which was delightful bringing to an end a most interesting trip.

Index

Stonegate - Wednesday 24 June 2009
On Wednesday last the Group’s walk was in the area of Stonegate in the High Weald when thirteen members set out on a bright sunny morning with a pleasant breeze. Leaving Witherenden Farm across a field of golden Barley and recently cut hay meadows made our way to Dens Farm, northwest of Stonegate turning south into Batts Wood, a pleasant area of mixed woodland where permissive public access was established in the nineties by a means of an agreement between East Sussex County Council and the Forestry Commission. The north side of the wood passes the Wadhurst Park and it’s lake where we were able to gaze upon a large herd of Deer grazing in the sunshine. We then ascended the one steep hill of the walk where we were rewarded by splendid views across the Weald to the south. Continuing south down into the valley thence over Pound Bridge through fields and Newbridge Wood enjoying some shade before returning through a large field of Barley to our starting point.

Index

Breakfast Walk: Housedean to Lewes - Saturday 13 June 2009
Early on a hazy Saturday morning 21 of us met up on the bus from Lewes travelling west to Housedean Farm on the A27. We alighted and made our way to join the South Downs Way towards Kingston,at about 7.30 am. The early part of the walk took us along field boundaries as we started to ascend up to the downs. In the fields we could hear Larks and watched a hovering Kestrel. Once we had left the cultivated fields we began to climb more steeply up on to Kingston Ridge. There were magnificent views in all directions.

Because of the time we took the first descent down the ridge and then followed the footpath through the village past the church and behind the primary school. Soon Spring Barn Farm came in to view. Passing through grazing sheep in a field we soon arrived at our venue for breakfast where we were joined by two more members. We sat down outside surrounded by all the activities going on at the farm. Having had a most enjoyable meal we headed back to Lewes across fields and a stream eventually coming out on to Southover High Street where we went our separate ways.


- - - - - Walking down to Kingston - - - - - - - - - - Twenty Hearty Breakfasts Please - - -
Index

Nutley to Sheffield Forest - Monday 25 May 2009
Despite heavy rain at the Brook Street meeting point, eight hearty souls started the walk from the Nutley playing field: it was only rain. Led by Jenny, the group followed Bell Lane then ascended the hill towards the edge of Maskett’s Wood. The ground reminded some of the Hippopotamus Song but as the skies cleared such thoughts were cast away even if the mud was not. After Mark Street the group passing some new timber production in the area of Ann Wood: how nice to see the timber being worked. Following a brief stop below Annwood Farm the newly energised group walked via Perryman’s Hill to Pollardsland Wood. Approaching Wilmshurst, a herd of deer stopped all chatter as we watched them grazing. The trees brought down by the 1987 hurricane were still visible and it was good to see new oak trees (probably approaching twenty years old) competing to take their place in Hollybush Wood. On returning to Nutley after three hours the wet start had been forgotten !

More photos and captions from Graham


- - - - - So, where is the rest of it? - - - - - - - - - - - - - A Muddy Moment - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Life in the Old Pond - - - - - - - -
Index

Waldron - Sunday 17 May 2009
One of the joys of walking in England is the changeable weather. On Sunday it started grey with fine rain, no visibility and a wind with a cold bite. Not deterred 12 walkers set off from Waldron but by eleven o’clock the sun was out, drying anoraks and trousers soaked by walking through long wet hay and wet rape fields.
Waldron is a pretty village set high on a sandstone ridge, once a busy place in the days of the iron industry. It is ideally placed for walkers with several converging paths and a good car park by the recreation grounds.
We started our six-mile walk at St. Mary’s Church porch, the path leading through the churchyard, part of which is reserved as a conservation area. Climbing the first difficult style we descended through meadows, past a magnificent elm tree in new leaf, into woods where the bluebells still scented the air. Several streams cut their way south through this landscape, cutting steep gullies with wooded sides and we crossed and re-crossed them joining the Vanguard Way near Moat Farm.
Styles in this area leave a lot to be desired. Attempts have been made to improve them but some are still unstable, too high, with sloping treads and even worse barbed wire around an upright. To avoid difficult styles we walked Beeches Lane to meet the Wealden Way. With the sun out it now became a wonderful May morning, with fields golden with buttercups, May in full bloom and water boatmen and diving beetles in the ponds. There were also large herds of friendly black and white cows in some of the fields and on one occasion to reassure some nervous members, we walked through them as a tightly knit group, our own kind of herd!
At Scallow Bridge we headed north gradually regaining height towards Waldron with the Church tower prominent ahead. Now there was good visibility and we ended at the Star Inn where the hospitality is excellent.

Index

Chailey to Isfield - Wednesday 13 May 2009
Wednesday’s walk was green in more ways than one as it not only took us through open countryside and woodland but we also avoided using our cars. We caught the 121 bus from Lewes to South Chailey then walked about 5 miles through Isfield to Rose Hill on the A26 where we caught the 29 bus back to Lewes. A very flat route that was notable for many landmarks en-route. Our first landmark was previously the Swan public house in Chailey where we left the bus and took to the path opposite. After half a mile, walking due east, we came to our second landmark a disused weir. Another mile east we came to a tunnel under the dismantled railway that ran from Barcombe to Sheffield Park. We enjoyed the peace and tranquillity of the path through Knowlands Wood and the remaining bluebells. Next we walked through the picturesque Newlands Farm with its chicken and sheep then across another weir this one holding back a sizable pond. We took the lane through Mount Pleasant then right onto a path leading to Dallas Lane where we took our coffee stop at a junction of footpaths. Heading east again we crossed the course of a Roman Road, came close to a World War II pillbox, and crossed a magnificent bridge for walkers and horse riders over a tributary of the Ouse. Next came a bridge across the Riser Ouse itself and on through Isfield to the old railway station. The final leg of the walk took us through a number of fields to The Halfway House public house where some of us enjoyed a great pint of Harvey’s beer and a lovely lunch. Seven members came and enjoyed this leisurely and memorable walk led by Dave.

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Stour Valley Walks - Sunday 3 May 2009
The first Sunday in May saw the first of the Group’s annual coach trips walking part of the Stour Valley Walk. It took it’s usual format of a long walk (12˝ miles) led by Martin, a short walk (about 7 miles) led by the Walks Organiser, Bert, and a few members spending a most interesting day in Canterbury.

The long walk started at Wye, and after passing the famous Horticultural College ascended on to the Downs passing through Crindale, along a valley bottom to Godmersham, then more climbing keeping on the Downs overlooking the Great Stour river. The short walking party began at the West end of Chilman walking through the delightful old village which has many styles of Architecture to the hamlet of Bagham and then on to the Downs where the two routes met, albeit the short party were some two hours ahead of the other party. The route continued on to Chartham keeping near the Great Stour and passing through fruit orchards eventually reaching Canterbury’s western edge. The walk continued through the City where many different buildings from various periods of its history were observed and then alongside the river to reach the Coach Park on the eastern side. The short party arrived in the City about three o’clock enabling a number to visit the Cathedral and enjoy the Service of Evensong whilst others viewed different parts of Canterbury with all enjoying some refreshment.

In addition to the walking was the delightful rural coach ride via Hawkhurst, Tenterden and Wye thus enabling all to appreciate the many shades of green and blooms of the spring countryside.

Graham kindly sent these photos



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Blackboys - Sunday 19 April 2009
Under overcast skies and a chill north easterly, despite a forecast of sunshine, 33 members set out from Blackboys Inn to walk towards Hawkhurst Common following the Vanguard Way. After leaving Kiln Wood we followed Hollow Lane to a green lane which came out on to Bushbury Lane. We walked down the lane and then headed across fields to Hawkhurst Common. One steep dip to a stream was very muddy but otherwise the walk was mostly firm underfoot despite the heavy rain of a few days before. On the way we met another large walking group from Eastbourne and saw a profusion of wild flowers – orchids, cowslips, milkmaids, bluebells, primrose, wild garlic and wood anemones to name but a few. From the few houses that make up Hawkhurst Common we headed for home, skirting Hawkhurst Common Wood to pick up the green lane again in the opposite direction and after passing a small holding with geese, hens and pigs turned into the Woodland Trust area which took us back to Kiln Wood and the start of our walk. We had sunshine as promised for the last part of the walk. A number of us stayed for an excellent lunch at the Blackboys Inn. The walk was led by Eileen and Gordon.

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Plumpton - Sunday 5 April 2009
Our walk on Sunday was a rather special afternoon. We started from The Old Mill House on Plumpton Lane and walked over to East Chiltington Church. From there we turned South and took a path through woods which were carpeted with the lovely white wood anemones and an abundance of Spring flowers, primroses, ladies smock, violets and the first bluebells.
We eventually re-crossed Plumpton Lane and then walked around Plumpton Place with its beautiful lakes, mill house and orchards filled with daffodils. From there we made our way back to the Old Mill House where Carole and Paul Nicholson gave us a private tour of their recently restored water mill. The huge water wheel was actually turning when we arrived, fed by the lake. Paul carefully explained the milling process to us and it was fascinating to hear how Carole and Paul had turned the once derelict mill into one which is now in full working order and which produces 100lbs of wholemeal flour a month from grain grown at Plumpton Agriculture College.
After the tour we were invited to eat our picnics in the beautiful grounds which surround the lakes and Mill House. 35 people enjoyed this unique afternoon which was also blessed with glorious warm sunshine. Thanks to Sally for the photos.

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Balcombe to Haywards Heath - Tuesday 31 March 2009
Changed to: Lewes - Southease - South Downs - Glynde

The walk should have been from Balcombe to Haywards Heath led by the Chairman, Robert Cheesman , but on this day was to be the announcement by the Minister on the Southdowns National Park. Robert, who has a vital role in the Southdowns Campaign had to remain in Lewes, thus another leader led a different walk which he knew, that by coincidence was in the proposed Southdowns National Park.
A party of ten persons set out from Lewes in lovely spring weather to walk down the river Ouse bank to Southease observing on the way the signs of spring around, various birds and the past evolution of industry, especially the former Cement Works at Asham with it’s former quay from where barges and small motor vessels sailed with their cargoes of cement, now nearing the end of it’s second function as the Beddingham Landfill Site.
At Southease the route joined the Southdowns Way passing over the relatively newly constructed bridge for walkers and horse riders then ascending Itford Hill. As we climbed beyond the immediate river valley we observed a birds eye view of Newhaven Harbour, Seaford Head, the Cuckmere River estuary and the Seven Sisters. To the north we could see Glynde, Lewes, other villages and surrounding countryside. Having arrived on top of the ridge one was able to study the drainage system of the Ouse Valley, how transport had developed over the centuries, many other geographical features, and the extraction of chalk from the downs and discuss the former lime industry at Glynde and how the railways were involved in time gone by. One could sum up this walk as an interesting geographical field trip.
Lunch was taken on the top of the ridge basking in the sunshine, and after a leisurely lunch the party dropped down in to Little Dene making it’s way to Glynde Station to find the train had gone, so the party visited the Trevor Arms for a leisurely drink to complete a very enjoyable walk before catching the next train to Lewes.

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Hadlow Down - Woods and Pastures - Sunday 22 March 2009
On a bright sunny Mothering Sunday 36 of us set out from Hadlow Down for a walk through woods and pastures. It was a great pleasure to have so many walkers and in particular five new walkers joined us, one of whom was in training for a sponsored walk in Peru in May (one suspects at a somewhat higher altitude than Hadlow Down at 150m). Setting off down a secret passage between houses we were soon out in to pastures, crossing fields before joining a lane. Turning off the lane we walked through Gillhope Bank Woods on clearly signed paths to end up on Dog Kennel Lane. A short section of road brought us to Broad Reed Farm and a wonderful oast house. Entering the Woodland Trust area we passed through woodlands covered with bluebells, unfortunately not in bloom but one could image the scene in May - a wall-to-wall carpet of blue. We were treated to banks of primroses and wood anemones and as we came out of the woodland there were butterflies and bumble bees not to mention the birds in full song.
Our next port of call was Huggett's Furnace, a reminder of the Wealden iron smelting industry. Indeed the River Uck at that point was very reddish-brown showing clear signs of the presence of iron ore. A herd of deer ran away from us as we walked along a well made track to join a road. Crossing the road we found an difficult metal style to cross which took us onto open pastures for a good way before following a road and well made track back to the start of the walk. Gordon and Eileen led the walk with thanks to Joan for helping with the planning. Thanks to Sally for the photos.

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Pycombe - Wednesday 18 March 2009
On a bright, sunny morning 19 of us set off from the northern end of Pyecombe, a village north of Brighton. A light breeze during the morning made it very pleasent for walking. We were soon climbing up on to the downs heading in a northeastwards direction towards Rockrose. As we climbed we could clearly see the Clayton Windmills and the surrounding panoramic views. On reaching a bridleway we then headed westwards on downland used for sheep grazing. After walking for about 1.5 km we headed southwestwards along the side of a chalk quarry which was being worked.Having crossed under the A23 in a tunnel we soon reached the Church of St John the Evangelist at Newtimber where we stopped for a coffee break surrounded by spring flowers. Off the downs now we then made our way towards Poynings across land used for stabling and riding horses. Passing through the village we started climbing again on to the downs. Heading southeastwards we crossed more stiles of which there were many on the walk, before reaching the settlement of Saddlescombe. Here we briefly walked along the South Downs Way. We then started our climb up West Hill taking a line which took us to the west of the summit. Eventually we started to descend and the valley followed by the A23 and occupied by Pyecombe came into view.The walk down into the village provided a great finish to the day. Crossing the footbridge over the main road we returned to our starting point.This walk was led by Jill and Graham King

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High Hurstwood - Sunday 8 March 2009
Our walk on Sunday was around High Hurstwood and 18 people joined Jeannette who led a very muddy but beautiful 5-mile walk. We started from High Hurstwood Church and followed the Vanguard Way as far as Holders Farm where we turned northwards and made our way to Crowborough Golf Course passing through Pickreed Wood, Grovehurst Farm and the lovely hamlet of Sweethaws where we saw a beautiful red rhododendron already in flower. After negotiating the perils of the Golf Course, we joined the A26 at the Crow and Gate and then turned southwards, following the Vanguard Way back to High Hurstwood.  The Maypole Inn made us very welcome and 10 of us enjoyed a lunch together to finish a very enjoyable morning. 

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Around Cuckfield - Sunday 22 February 2009
Last Sunday’s varied walk began in the attractive village of Cuckfield with its 16th century houses and picturesque cottages. The weather was cloudy but dry, and on banks massed snowdrops heralded spring. Starting from the village car park, 22 of us followed the High Weald Landscape Trail taking us north to Whitemans Green, through plenty of mud and rushing water in drainage ditches. Here, on the edge of the recreation ground, we made a short diversion to look at the plaque commemorating Dr Gideon Mantell’s discovery of the dinosaur Iguanadon, the teeth of which were found in a nearby quarry.
Regaining the High Weald Trail, we continued north to a welcome coffee stop by a pond, close to Cuckfield Golf Course. Inquisitive horses met us as we walked round Lower Spark’s Farm and then along Sparks Lane, pausing to look at paintings in the Picture Framers in a former chapel at Brook Street. We strode across fields past Tanyard Farm, and after a steep and muddy climb, we left the Trail close to the boundary of Borde Hill Gardens. From here there were distant views of the South Downs and occasional glimpses of the fine spire of Cuckfield’s 900 year old Parish Church. Now our route was much easier on the legs as we followed a level lane past Lullings Farm and Gore’s Wood. Making a diversion along the road and via twittens to avoid very muddy footpaths, we returned to our starting point. Some of us rounded off the morning’s walk with a delicious pub lunch.

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Uckield to Newick - Wednesday 18 February 2009
Fifteen walkers enjoyed a leisurely walk from Little Horsted to Newick on Wednesday. We caught the bus from Lewes Bus Station to Little Horsted then walked the lane past Horsted Green to what we assumed to be a large chicken factory. Although the turn is not marked we turned left off the lane and followed the public footpath over styles to cross the old track bed of the Isfield to Uckfield railway line. In a short distance we crossed the River Uck on a well-made wooden bridge, then followed the footpath that rises up to meet the lane from Isfield. As we dropped down from Buckham Hill we saw a herd of deer in the near distance that raised their heads and watched us pass. On reaching the fast flowing river from Shortbridge we took a coffee break. Our next landmark was another well-made wooden bridge this one crossing the Ouse. Walking on we crossed the lane to Piltdown and up a bank to high ground. Here we saw another small group of dear which noting our presence jumped over a fence and trotted away. Our path eventually took us through Newick Churchyard and the lane to the village green. While waiting for the bus back to Lewes we enjoyed drinks at The Royal Oak, sandwiches from the bakery, or our packed lunches.

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Lewes and Kingston Circular: Walk 5 - Sunday 25 January 2009
Sunday’s weather forecast was dire but in the event they got it the wrong way round and the morning turned out much better than the afternoon. Nine of us took part, including one new person from Lewes and three people from London down here for a short break. So it was a lively and interesting morning. The walk, led by Janet, is No. 5, Kingston circular, from the Group’s book of favourite walks. The route starts off up Jugg’s Lane, crosses the by-pass and continues along tracks and fields to Kingston Ridge. There is a steep climb up to the South Downs Way before descending to Swanborough. After crossing the Lewes-Newhaven road we continued across a field, past the sewage works, then followed a narrow path to join the southern bank of the Cockshut stream and so back into Lewes. Although the rain held off for the most part, we had plenty of mud and flooded gateways to negotiate. We finished up at the Kings Head in Southover High Street where most of us enjoyed the roast beef Sunday lunch.

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Devils Dyke - Wednesday 21 January 2009
We were lucky enough last Wednesday to catch the best day of the week for our walk, led by Janet, across rolling downland in the Devil’s Dyke area. 20 of us started off from the Summerdown car park in sunshine which stayed with us all morning. It was a fairly energetic up and down route with stunning views all the way. We first dropped down into Benfleet valley then continued up the other side of the valley with a golf course on the right where plenty of golfers were out enjoying the day. We took a coffee break at the top of the climb at the site of the Golf Course Halt of the former Devil’s Dyke railway before continuing past Brighton & Hove golf club house then crossed a road and descended once again. A further steady climb followed along a wide rutted chalk and flint track before we continued on towards Saddlescombe Farm. Just before reaching the farm several of us stopped to buy eggs outside a cottage. A final short sharp climb and we were back at Summerdown. Several of the group finished off with lunch at the Devil’s Dyke Hotel.

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Ashdown Forest followed by New Year Lunch - Wednesday 14 January 2009
Some 24 members took part in the walk preceding the Group’s annual New Year lunch. This started from Barnsgate Manor and took the Wealdway south past the perimeter of Oldlands to a point near Pleasant Farm where the traditional coffee break was held. The walk continued past Putlands Farm and the outskirts of Duddleswell to Campfields Rough and Barnsden before returning to Barnsgate Manor. Although the morning had started off with heavy mist the sun quickly came out and many thought the weather was similar to that of a spring day. The walkers were then joined by over 30 other members of the Group for the lunch which had been organised by Bert Sharp who has been doing this for almost 10 years.

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Ringmer to Mt Caburn back to Lewes - Sunday 11 January 2009
The Group took the bus to Ringmer and then walked across Glyndebourne Hill to Saxon Down and Mount Caburn where a coffee stop was held. Although it remained cold the sun shone and the views were magnificent. The return journey went through Bible Bottom and Southerham back to Lewes.

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Index of Walk Reports
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