Walk Reports 2018-2019

 

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Rushlake Green - Sunday 22 September 2019

On the first day of Autumn, 10 walkers from the Lewes Footpaths Group braved a forecast of heavy rain for a 5-mile circular walk starting at Rushlake Green. From the village we passed through the Ian Price memorial gate, named after a young linesman tragically killed while trying to restore the electricity supply after the 1987 storm, onto a woodland path which brought us out onto the road to Warbleton and thence to its church, where we turned left and crossed the fields, to the sound of church bells. The day remained dry and surprisingly warm.

 

We reached the road near Vines Cross and stopped for our coffee break before doubling back across farmland to reach Furnace Lane and thence a bridleway leading back to our starting point. The rain finally arrived as we made our way back to Lewes. The walk was led by Anne.

 

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Rose Hill to Ringmer Stroll - Wednesday 18 September 2019

Twelve walkers enjoyed a sunny morning stroll from the Halfway House public house at Rose Hill to Ringmer. We caught bus number 29 from Waitrose which dropped us beside the pub car park. Unfortunately we had to cross the A26 to get to the start of our stroll on the opposite side of the road.  With no cars visible in either direction we crossed quickly in a line shoulder to shoulder shielded by the leader and backmarker in high visibility jackets. Safely on the other side we followed the track and footpaths along the northern edge of Plashett Wood. After about a mile we turned right onto Harvey’s Lane and looked for the bridle path on our right beside the second house. It was easy to follow the bridle path but on a wet day would be very muddy in places caused by the horses. We negotiated the only two stiles on the walk and eventually arrived at the junction of Green Lane, Norlington Lane and Broyle Lane. Here we paused to look at the well kept graves of two soldiers who fought a duel in the early 1800’s. We continued on Norlington Lane seeing a glider being towed high to start his leisurely descent. At Little Norlington we took the footpath on our left that led us to Broyle Lane on the built up outskirts of Ringmer. The official end of our three mile stroll was at the bus stop in Broyle Lane where the 28 bus heads back to Lewes. Most walkers preferred to take the footpath from Broyle Lane and walk a further mile across fields and the village green to Ringmer village and catch the 28 or 29 bus back to Lewes. The guidance notes for walk leaders define a stroll as being between 2.5 and 3.5 miles at a gentle and unhurried pace which I think we achieved. Dave was the leader.

 

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High Weald Landscape Trail Weekend – Friday 13 to Sunday 15 September 2019

For three days, beginning on Friday 13th September, a group of us walked along the High Weald Landscape Trail, starting at Eridge Green and ending at Benenden. The High Weald is a consistently attractive landscape and each day was just a little different from each other. On the first day we walked eight miles to Pembury. This part of the trail is hilly, with steep downs invariably followed by equally steep ups. One saving grace was the complete lack of stiles but after eight miles of ups and downs we were all glad to see the site of the coach in Pembury waiting to take us back to Lewes.

 

Day two was sunnier than day one and the hills were less hilly but the large number of stiles definitely slowed us down. We had entered Kent so there were orchards full of heavily laden apple trees, a few vineyards and rather magically a large field of hops which draped themselves over you as you pushed your way through creating a slight sense of other worldliness.

 

On Sunday the temperature was even higher and it made us all the more aware of how many woods the trail passes through as we enjoyed the cool of the offered shade, disturbing a large number of pheasants on our way through. In Cranbrook we stopped for a very welcome ice cream and then got a little lost whilst crossing Crane Brook before the final push to Benenden. Graham and Hilda led the way.

 

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Ardingly and West Hoathly – Wednesday 21 August 2019

Nine of us set out on Wednesday 21 August on a circular walk from Ardingly recreation ground through West Hoathly. The walk was characterised by its beautiful scenery, its variety and the large number of stiles. The weather was perfect for walking, bright or sunny all day, but not too hot. Conditions underfoot were a little wet after overnight rain, but we were able to take advantage of a strategically placed picnic table in West Hoathly for a rather late lunch.

 

We crossed the Bluebell Railway and were rewarded by the sight of a passing steam train.  The steepest hill of the day was reached in the late morning and we paused at the top to regain our breath and to take a drinks stop.  Further on, in West Hoathly, we passed the ancient church of St Margaret, dating from 1090, and the fifteenth century Priest House, now a museum.  Both are well worth a visit, but there was no time on this occasion. 

 

Shortly after this, we were dismayed to read a sign saying that the route ahead was closed.  However, after reading it more carefully, we realised it was several years out of date and could safely be ignored.

 

Finally, we walked along the edge of the county show ground to regain our cars. The walk was led by Janet and Peter.

 

 

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Woods Mill – Sunday 11 August 2019

We set off from the Woods Mill Nature Reserve the day after much of the country had been beset by windstorms. Luckily the strong winds had subsided, though it was still pretty gusty in places. After skirting the Reserve, we headed in a south-westerly direction towards the Downs, crossing fields and passing through woodland. We reached the foot of the Downs at Edburton and then climbed steeply up Fulking Escarpment with splendid views of the Weald behind us and a plethora of wildflowers under our feet.

 

After staggering to the top of the Downs, on reaching the South Downs Way at the top and turning to the west, we had to battle against quite strong winds, but these didn’t detract from our appreciation of the wide views of the coastline. After walking along the top of the Downs for about a mile, we took a very welcome snack break at the café of Truleigh Hill Youth Hostel. Suitable refreshed, we commenced our descent, first gradual, then steep, with more great views, this time of the Adur valley. From the base of the Downs, we strolled back across more fields and woods to return to Woods Mill. Despite the less than ideal conditions for butterflies, we did spot about eight different species. The fourteen walkers were led by Alan.

 

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Lewes Afternoon Tea Stroll – Saturday 3 August 2019

As it turned out most, if not all, of the eleven members who convened on Cliffe Bridge were mostly interested in the afternoon tea part of the outing and the stroll along the banks of the River Ouse, past the recycling centre at Ham Lane, along the road by the Cockshut and thence to the café at Anne of Cleves House was simply a means to this end. 

 

That is not to say that the aforementioned stroll was not enjoyable and not without some interest.  The river itself was very full, being at the peak of a spring tide, which meant that when we reached the bridge under the railway line a certain amount of careful fence hanging was required in order to avoid getting our feet wet in the encroaching water.  The warm, slightly muggy, weather allowed us to enjoy our afternoon tea in the garden with the welcome company of the group’s President who was waiting for us when we arrived.  This was a lovely surprise that completed a most enjoyable outing led by Hilda and Graham.

 

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Ditchling Stroll – Tuesday 23 July 2019

Despite the hot weather, 11 members took part in a stroll in and around Ditchling last week.  Starting at the Village Hall car park they walked across fields to the Nye before returning to the Lewes Road and the recreation ground.  After crossing many excellent sets of steps erected by the Monday Group they found their way by public footpath to Dumbrells Court.  After a short stretch of road in North End they took the path beside Court Gardens Farm to reach the bridleway that marks the boundary between East and West Sussex. 

 

A refreshment stop ensued at Oldland Mill where it was interesting to watch volunteers manoeuvring a sweep to erect on the windmill.  The return to Ditchling beside Lodge Hill Lane enabled the walkers to appreciate the views of the South Downs before they reached Boddingtons Lane and returned to the Village Hall car park.  Some members then took advantage of a coffee shop to have a light lunch before returning to Lewes. The walk was led by Robert.

 

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Alfriston and Rathfinny Vineyard – Sunday 14 July 2019

Sixteen members of Lewes Footpaths Group met at the High and Over car park in Seaford on a fresher morning than of late. We started with a steep downhill walk through fields towards Alfriston.  At the start of Alfriston, the group turned left up a woody path leading quite steeply to the top of the Downs where we stopped for our break.  Here we had really good views of the surrounding hills, colourful fields and the sea. We then carried on further over the Downs turning left around the Rathfinny Vineyards where we had really good views of how the Estate has been expanding.  We continued our walk slightly uphill, through the trees and fields back to the car park.

 

We were accompanied by Bob Eade who pointed out the different butterflies and flowers that we came across. The walk was led by Jean.

 

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East Dean, Birling Gap Circular – Wednesday 26 June 2019

On an overcast and blustery morning sixteen walkers left the car park in the village of East Dean.  It was tempting to stop and browse the interesting market stalls.  Led by Anita we proceeded along the ancient Went Way, stopping from time to time to admire some very picturesque properties.  We then climbed through the woods of Went Hill, the first of the Seven Sisters, stopping to admire the view of the Belle Tout.  On reaching the open down land we turned east and headed towards the sea and the “honey-pot” of Birling Gap.

 

Joining the South Downs Way and continuing eastwards we climbed towards the Belle Tout, anticipating ice creams once there.  Stopping and turning on our way up to admire the views back towards Seaford Head.  Sadly, no ice creams at the Belle Tout today, although we hunkered down in the shelter of the flint walls, for our coffee stop.

 

Refreshed, we continued east, with views of Beachy Head and its lighthouse.  On reaching the road we turned inland, entertained by a sparrow hawk, very low-down hunting for prey.  We continued across open fields, with flowers in the hedgerows, eventually reaching the road back towards East Dean village.  Walking through the church yard, passing the rose covered entrance to the church of St Simon and St Jude, and leaving by the tapsel gate we returned to the East Dean village green.  Here the group split, some returning home, whilst others stayed on for a very sociable lunch, now basking in the afternoon sun.

 

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Arlington – Sunday 16 June 2019

Despite the unseasonably wet and cool weather forecast, 17 of us set out from Arlington up Tye Hill, then turning left into the woods and across the Cuckmere at Sessingham Bridge. Because of the recent rains, the river was in full flow, despite it being close to midsummer’s day. Emerging from the woods we climbed gently across fields by a hedgerow, which afforded us little protection from the now quite heavy rain.

 

At the top of the hill we entered another wooded area near to Arlington reservoir, where we decided to have our coffee break under the protection of the trees. This turned out to be a wise decision – as we emerged into the open on the banks of the reservoir, the rain stopped and we walked almost the whole way around the reservoir in fair weather, even catching a brief glimpse of the sun at one point. From the end of the dam, it was just a short walk through the fields and back over the Cuckmere to Arlington church and the car park nearby. Despite the inclement weather, it was a pleasant walk, led by Alan.

 

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Arlington Evening Walk – Tuesday 11 June 2019

Twenty-three of us set off from the Yew Tree Inn at Arlington car park picking up a track through woodland, crossing the Cuckmere River and arriving at the Arlington Reservoir.  This was an ideal spot for our short mid-walk break, with mown grassy verges and picnic tables.  We sat in the sunshine with views across the reservoir, with the church at Arlington in the distance.

 

We set off again, initially skirting the reservoir, then striking out across a series of fields, with crops at varying stages of growth. We then picked up the Wealdway, finally emerging at the churchyard of Saint Pancras, Arlington, just a short walk away from our starting point.

 

Everyone agreed that it had been a most enjoyable walk, all the more so for the unexpectedly fine conditions – and, at slightly under 5 miles on mainly flat and easy tracks, not too onerous but just right to work up an appetite for supper.  All the walkers stayed on for a delicious supper at the welcoming Yew Tree Inn, providing a delightful end to the evening.

 

The walk was led by Vivien.

 

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Bolney – Sunday 2 June 2019

Twenty-three members of the Lewes Footpaths Group enjoyed a gloriously warm, sunny day for our walk around Bolney, which replaced the scheduled Chiddingly walk. Starting from the village street, we followed Lodge Lane to reach Nailard’s Wood. A pleasant stroll through woodland tracks brought us to a short section of road, from which we turned northwards to follow a track uphill to Rout Farm, past some sheep looking uncomfortably hot in their heavy fleeces. Continuing northwards, we reached the outskirts of Warninglid and turned sharp right into a field where we stopped for a coffee break. Heading back south, we crossed several fields to reach Colwood Lane, and then turned left into Jeremy’s Lane. A stile took us onto fields again and back to Bolney via a delightfully shady woodland track. The walk was led by Anne.

 

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Firle to Southease - Tuesday 14 May 2019

This was a lovely sunny day and eleven of us met at Lewes bus station to catch the 09.30 bus to Firle Place gates.  We walked up the driveway and then up The Dock to the Coach Road. We took the steep path up the Rabbit Track to the top of the Downs, pausing every so often to catch our breath!

 

At the top we turned west and followed the South Downs Way along past the car park and the radio masts pausing to enjoy the marvellous views. After walking through a herd of beef cows and their calves, we dropped down Itford Hill, over the A26 footbridge and enjoyed a well-earned cup of coffee at the YHA café before walking on down to Southease station for the 13.05 train back to Lewes.

The walk was led by Rosemary Norris & Sandra Ellis.

 

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Spider Orchid Walk – Wednesday 8 May 2019

 

On May 8th, when  the weather would have put most people off going for a walk a quartet of intrepid botanists braved the elements and caught the bus from Lewes bus station to the Newmarket pub and set off up towards Newmarket Hill en route to Castle Hill National Nature Reserve. Hopes were raised that the weather forecast was correct when the heaviest rain had eased off by 9:30am, but the rain wasn’t quite done with us and we were subjected to intermittent showers for a while thereafter. Undaunted we carried on through the reserve to reach the area where the orchids are known to be. It was immediately obvious they were nearly at the end of their flowering period but fortunately there were still enough blooms left to have made the walk worthwhile. These are quite small plants, only about 10cm tall, so the best way to appreciate them is to get down on hands and knees and view them with the aid of a lens or magnifying glass and then you can see how they got their name

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Then we returned to Lewes by climbing the downs overlooking Kingston. Spurred on by the prospect of a stop for hot chocolate at the Juggs pub, we descended to the village via the more direct but precipitous path that emerges at the top of the main street. Once fortified by warming drinks and cheesy chips, one of us caught a bus back to Lewes leaving the remaining trio to walk back, now in glorious sunshine, past Spring Barn Farm and along the banks of the Cockshut stream where we were regaled by the distinctive call of a marsh frog.  The walk was led by Wendy.

 

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Balsdean Valley – Tuesday 16 April 2019

Twenty of us set off from the car park near Woodingdean cross roads and followed a track which climbs gradually towards a radio mast. Then our track bears left through a gate to follow a lovely path which descends gently round the contours of the downs into Standean Bottom.  Continuing through trees along the valley, we took care to avoid the deep holes of old badger setts.  We found the plaque which marks the site of the old Norman church and learned a little of the history of the area where the manor house and farm cottages were evacuated in the 2nd world war and used as target practice.  Norton Farm was used as a lunatic asylum in the 19th century. 

 

Our coffee break was taken by the old farm buildings which are used for sheep shearing later in the year. Sheep, with their delightful lambs, were curious to look at us.  We carried on across several fields, past cows and young calves before tackling the steep climb up to the South Downs Way. Here we were rewarded with a spectacular view over Kingston towards Lewes and the Ouse valley.  We followed the South Downs Way for a mile or so, leaving it to make our gentle descent, past another radio mast and back to the car park. The walk was led by Janet and Gill and is Number 4 from our “Favourite Walks” booklet.

 

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Seaside Walk to Peacehaven – Sunday 7 April 2019

When the last member joined us at Brighton Marina, the group numbered fifteen.  The chalk cliffs there are full of geological interest, the details of which were elaborated on by one of the group who has knowledge of such matters.  Once pointed out, it is possible to see where a lot of sandy stuff had been shoved over the chalk cliff by glaciers way back in the Ice Age.  Glaciers only extended down to about 60 or 70 miles north of Brighton so they must have shoveled up a huge amount of stuff for it to have reached this far south. 

 

The cloud cover failed to stop the sunshine heating up the under cliff path and layers were shed as the temperature rose.  At Ovingdean we stopped for refreshments at the kiosk and at Rottingdean we stopped for a picnic looking out over the flat calm, glistening sea.  Some of the group chose to leave at that point but the remaining eleven carried along the top of the cliffs by the busy A259.  Approaching Telscombe Cliffs, we came across an obelisk with a weather vane on top.  The structure had been erected fifty years after the end of the Second World War.  Playfully, somebody had moved the direction indicators through 180 degrees so that south was north and east was west.  For a moment it was just a little disconcerting.  After following the re-instated path through the sewage works we joined the Greenwich Meridian Trail which took us to the Meridian Monument to George V, erected in 1936.  Our return to Lewes was facilitated by Brighton and Hove’s efficient bus service.  Hilda and Graham ensured that nobody got lost.

 

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Pointing at mispaced pointers (2)

Pointing at Misplaced Pointers

Hemispherically divided (2)

Hemispherically Divided

 

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Stanmer Park – Sunday 24 March 2019

The Lewes Footpaths Group walk on Sunday 24 March took place in Stanmer Park. We set off from the parking area near Stanmer Church and turned up the village street, in the company of crowds of other walkers enjoying the spring sunshine. We walked past the café and the picturesque flint and brick cottages, turning right after the final cottage up a moderately steep hillside to a gateway into the woods, leaving the crowds behind.  Turning left after a short distance, we followed a broad woodland track along the top of the ridge.

 

Signs of approaching spring were everywhere, with new green showing on hawthorn and sycamore, and clumps of anemones, violets and primroses. We went on steadily to reach High Park Farm, the highest part of the walk. Following the track, we passed through a gateway and continued along a path running parallel to the Ditchling Road. The woodland gave way to two open fields, where we stopped for our coffee break, before entering Upper Lodge Wood.  More tracks brought us to a car parking area popular with dog walkers and their badly trained charges, where we struck downhill, eventually passing behind the nurseries and Stanmer House to emerge a short distance from our starting point. The walk was led by Anne.

 

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Seaford Head – Tuesday 19 March 2019

The 12 walkers assembled at Splash Point felt they had struck lucky. After days of heavy rain, gales or just anticyclonic gloom, the sky was blue, the sun was shining and the wind had dropped. What a difference from this time last year when we were in the grip of ‘the Beast from the East’.

 

We set off on the steep climb to the top of Seaford Head – a good way to blow off the cobwebs. Then a pause to look back and take in the stunning views across Seaford and the coast beyond – and to regain our breath. We were on the lookout for signs of Spring – and the first hit us loud and clear – the song of the skylarks as they soared upwards and then wheeled earthwards to their nesting areas, sounds that accompanied us throughout the walk.   We continued along the clifftop for a while, then turned inland. Further signs of Spring greeted us: male chaffinches in their fine new breeding plumage singing loudly from the tops of bushes. We were then treated to the delightful spectacle of a field-full of ewes and their lambs being rounded up by a very enthusiastic sheepdog in order to be driven down to the barn for their foot baths.

 

Turning eastwards to join the Vanguard Way, we found the path partially flooded, now that the Cuckmere River is allowed to flow freely.  At the Coastguard Cottages, we turned westwards back along the clifftop, stopping from time to time to look back at the Seven Sisters, one of the most iconic views along the south coast which never fails to amaze and delight.

 

And so back down to the promenade, all feeling the benefit of the fresh air, exercise and good company – and the undeniable evidence that winter is over.

 

The walk was led by Vivien.

 

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Lewes Circular  - Sunday 10 March 2019

Nineteen of us set off on a breezy but bright morning from North Street Car Park, past the Pells into Landport, from where we climbed up to the Offham Road, continuing our ascent along Hill Road and then up to the Racecourse. On the exposed stretches, we were subjected to extremely strong, bracing or exhilarating winds, depending on your point of view. Making progress in the face of this headwind and remaining vertical were something of a struggle, but we made it and paused for welcome refuge by a hedge.

 

We next descended by the side of the race track and took our coffee break on a bank sheltered from the winds by a large tree. The contrast between the temperature in exposed and sheltered areas was remarkable. Suitably refreshed, we continued our descent, now with the wind behind us, almost being carried along and again trying to stay vertical! We emerged via Houndean Rise onto the Brighton Road, which we crossed at Hope-in-the-Valley, from where we had another ascent up to Juggs Road, and down again to Southover. We went behind Southover to Cockshut Lane. At this point, the wind had dropped but the heavens opened briefly, and we decided to omit the last mile or so of the planned walk and returned via the Priory and the station. The walk was led by Alan.

 

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The Sloop to Danehill – Wednesday 6 March 2019

The promised rain failed to materialise so when ten of us, led by Graham with Hilda back marking, set off from The Sloop Inn we did so with hope in our hearts that we would enjoy a good walk and so it turned out to be.  This part of the Weald shares most of the characteristics of the rest of the Weald, lovely undulating countryside and the promise of some mud after the rain of the last few days.  We certainly enjoyed the countryside and coped with the relatively modest amount of mud. 

 

Heading north we soon crossed the Bluebell Railway, continued northwards to Heaven Farm, after a brief detour around Kidborough Farm (the leader got a bit lost) and so to the outskirts of Danehill where we turned south and followed the Greenwich Meridian Trail back to the starting point where some of us consumed The Sloop Inn’s excellent ham, egg and chips, with the eggs having been laid that very day by the pub’s own chickens.

 

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Alfriston / Litlington – Sunday 24 Feb 2019

Under a cloudless sky and brilliant unseasonably warm sunshine, nineteen of us set off from Alfriston to tackle the climb up Windover Hill. After several dry days prior to the walk the footpath had dried and firmed up considerably so we reached the summit in record time and thankfully mud-free. This allowed us time to cool down after the rigours of the climb and take a refreshment stop sitting on top of a conveniently placed long barrow (burial mound) that offered us panoramic views.

 

The return route took us down hill past Lullington Heath Nature Reserve then on into Litlington, emerging into the village through what is now Long Man Brewery (regretfully their shop and tasting room is closed on Sundays). The walk then finished with a very pleasant amble along the Cuckmere river bank back into Alfriston. The walk was led by Wendy.

 

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Downs North of Brighton – Sunday 10 February 2019

The scheduled walk round Buxted turned out to be far too muddy for the delicate soles of the walking group so we took ourselves to the Downs north of Brighton for a fairly brief and breezy walk taking in the Chattri on the way.  Setting off from the carpark just off the A27 twelve of us, led by Hilda and Graham, followed the bridleway that rises very gently to the Chattri where we stopped for the always welcome coffee break.  Carrying on we encountered slight muddiness before turning right down a chalky track leading to Lower Standean, a tiny enclave nestling right in the middle of The Downs.  From there we followed the road that passes Alpha and Beta Cottages and the rifle range back to our starting point.  Bracing but not raining sums up the morning’s activities. The walk was led by Hilda and Graham.

 

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Lancing Hill – Sunday 27 January 2019

The morning was overcast and blustery when nine walkers left the Lancing Ring Nature Reserve car park for a four and a quarter mile walk, led by Anita.  It started with a long steady, uphill climb on a very well-walked and muddy path.  This made the walking more difficult than some may have hoped for.  By the time we reached the summit, the sky brightened, giving us distant views towards the Rampion Wind Farm.

 

Turning right towards Coombe Head the path improved.  What a joy to be able to walk on the green and grassy Downs!  Continuing to battle with the blustery wind, we arrived at Coombehead Wood.  This provided welcome shelter from the wind and proved an ideal spot for our morning break. We basked in glorious sunshine, admiring the spectacular Lancing College and wondering what the future holds for the Shoreham Cement Works.

 

Suitably refreshed, we headed down to Cow Bottom, passing Cowbottom Hovel - originally an open shelter for cattle. Then we took the steeply sloping, and relatively short uphill climb to the top for the final stretch, up Lancing Hill and back to the car park.

 

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Glynde to Lewes – Sunday 13 January 2019

Twenty members gathered at Lewes Rail station to catch the 9.21 train to Glynde. After a short walk along the road, we climbed the first stile onto the main field path leading to Mount Caburn.

 

The ascent was a long slope but not steep. We climbed a stile into a field of turnips where sheep were grazing and alas saw a dead fox! The view got better and better towards the top. Fifteen walkers managed to climb to the summit and see the almost 360 degree view of Lewes and surrounding areas. Five members preferred to walk around the lower edge and not risk the short but steep climb to the top of the hill.

 

We descended via Oxteddle Bottom and through Bible Bottom.  As the weather had been dry, it was not too muddy and we passed many young calves. Then we enjoyed a gentle walk up towards Lewes golf course. We descended the rather steep Chapel Hill with many walkers finishing the walk in a cafe. The weather was dry throughout and was led by Amanda.

 

 

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Lewes footpaths Mount Caborn

 

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Boxing Day Stroll round Lewes – Wednesday 26 December 2018

We enjoyed a 3 mile walk around the Southover area of Lewes on Boxing Day.  18 of us started from Lewes High Street where a large group of people had already gathered to see The Hunt.  We then walked past Lewes Station, completely closed, to the dismay of a traveller hauling a heavy case, and were soon walking through the Convent Field and then into the Priory Ruins.  Great interest was shown in the Remains of the Priory and the interpretation displays, especially by some who had never walked there before.

 

From the Cockshut Road we went into Cluny Street, in the estate built in the grounds of the old Manor School, and called in to see our President, John Vokins, who wished us all a Happy New Year.  We soon emerged onto the Kingston road, crossing over to Juggs Lane.  Just before Jubilee Park we took the path named locally as Love Lane and walked high above the Winterbourne estate  before crossing the Winterbourne Stream, now beginning to flow, round the allotments and out to Hope-in –the- Valley where we stopped for coffee and mince pies.

 

We took another path, a bit muddy, which led us back to the Winterbourne estate and then walked through the St. Pancras recreation ground out to Southover High Street and then through Grange Gardens.  We finished walking up the steep St. Martin’s Lane where we were all invited for drinks and snacks in Janet’s delightful cottage.  Jeannette led the walk.

 

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Winter Solstice Sunrise Stroll – Friday 21 December 2018

The plan was to watch the sunrise on the shortest day of the year.  This involved catching the bus to Ringmer at ten to seven in the morning outside Waitrose.  One other walker joined Hilda and Graham, whose mad idea this was, and a fourth was waiting at Ringmer.  We set off in the lightening gloom to climb the hill to the wind turbine, all the time battling against the gale force winds that had been so accurately predicted in the shipping forecast. 

 

The turbine was stationary which we put down to the fact that turbines are “switched off” in high winds (which may or may not be true) but in this case it was stopped because it was broken, information that we learned from the workman who was getting stuff out of his van at the base of the turbine.  His colleague had just begun the climb to the top up the decidedly basic looking ladder inside the tower.  We left them to it and carried on up the track towards Saxon Cross, stopping briefly to look at the slightly brighter looking bit of cloud to the east where the sun, unseen, had just risen.  On the top we had to lean hard into the wind, sometimes being almost stopped in our tracks, as we crossed the golf course.  Having descended Chapel Hill we enjoyed a well-earned breakfast at the Trading Post Coffee Roaster.  Not too long after that the sun came out but it was too late then.

 

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Wind Blown Walkers with Shooting Raindrops

 

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“I guess that the sun must be there somewhere”

 

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See what is behind the door -

 

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a ladder going all the way up.

 

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Brighton Cemetery and Racecourse – Wednesday 12 December 2018

This walk led by Janet and Gill, started off at the Woodvale Cemetery.  We wound our way gradually uphill pausing to read the names on tombstones ranging from a cavalryman for General Custer to the impressive mausoleum built to resemble a train turntable in memory of the chief engineer of London Brighton and South Coast Railways.  It was a surprisingly green area with some spooky overgrown wooded sections. 

 

We took our coffee break in bright sunshine on two benches in the remembrance garden.  Leaving the cemetery we headed down Tenantry Down Road and then through the tunnel under Brighton racecourse and followed the grassy track to the grandstand and the ancient site of Neolithic Whitehawk Camp from where we had fine views of the sea.  We continued along this track gradually descending into Eastern Road by Brighton College.  Some of us took the bus back to Lewes while others enjoyed a snack while watching the skaters at the Royal Pavilion.

 

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Falmer to Lewes – Sunday 2 December 2018

There were no trains running to or from Lewes and the much loved rail replacement bus service times were all over the place so instead of walking over the Downs between Bishopstone and Southease we walked over the Downs between Falmer and Lewes. 

 

At the beginning the low clouds so obscured the view that we could have been walking anywhere on the Downs, however the advantage of this route was that the wind was behind us and the occasional spots of rain were much less unpleasant as a consequence.  The wind was warm and as the clouds lifted the views improved.  At the racecourse the group of fourteen began to go their separate ways at the end of a most pleasant walk filled with much conversation, including much gently heated debate about Brexit where the participants managed to strongly disagree without falling out. Graham and Hilda were the leaders.

 

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Upper Dicker Stroll – Tuesday 27th November 2018

On a damp and murky, although relatively mild, November morning 12 walkers left from the village pub of Upper Dicker and were soon strolling alongside St Bede’s Golf Course.  Poor visibility made it difficult to see anyone playing. A recently mended stile was much easier to climb over. We walked alongside the River Cuckmere, before crossing it to make our return journey.  The fog lifted a little to give us a glimpse of the surrounding countryside.  After stopping for coffee at two very conveniently placed benches, we continued on our way.  Again, we strolled alongside the River Cuckmere, heading towards Michelham Priory.

 

Shortly after passing Michelham Priory, the group crossed the St Bede’s playing fields, passing the village store and café at Upper Dicker to return to the village pub.  Here the temptation of a cosy countryside fire was too much.  Half the group staying for lunch, coffee or something stronger.

 

It was particularly encouraging to welcome long standing members of the walking group who felt the short, three and half miles was as much as they now wanted to walk and also good to welcome new walkers to the group.  Anita led the stroll.

 

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           Newly mended.  How lovely

 

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Danehill – Sunday 18 November 2018

The autumn colours are past their best but the golden leaves on the paths that we walked along round Danehill were often still quite fresh and crisp in spite of the recent rain. Walking through a thick layer of rustling leaves is a particular pleasure at this time of the year. Coupled with the bright sunshine and the good company of fellow walkers, there were all the ingredients for a perfect ramble round the High Weald.  From Danehill we followed the Greenwich Meridian Trail and soon entered the well-kept grounds of Birch Grove Estate, once the home of Harold Macmillan of “never had it so good” and “winds of change” fame.  The track through the woods led us eventually to Birchgrove Road and after a short walk along that we plunged into more woods where the track ran along the side of a valley with many, presumably, old hammer ponds in the valley floor below.  The route back to Danehill was through more woodland and across the fairways of a golf course with no players, somewhat unusual on a lovely Sunday morning.  We came to the conclusion that the course has to be “private” and this was confirmed by subsequent research by our chairman.  Twelve of us were led by Hilda and Graham

 

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North Chailey – Tuesday 30 October 2018

On a fine, windy day, 15 of us parked off the A275 crossroads with the A272 in North Chailey close to “the Forget-me-not” cafe. We made our way through Chailey Common which was declared a local Nature Reserve in 1966. It has also been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest because it is the last surviving fragment of lowland heath in the Low Weald.

 

We explored the common and some of the heavily wooded surrounding countryside, passing a few farms and fields of sheep and some marshy areas. There were some spectacular views of the surrounding countryside with not a house in sight. At one stage, we caught up with another walking group from Brighton who seemed to be going a different way. 

 

We found a sheltered area in the woods for our coffee break and then continued walking through fields and woods. We passed a prominent building which had once belonged to Chailey Heritage. Close by is a smock mill dating from about 1830 which is supposed to stand at the centre of Sussex. It may be visited on the last Sunday of each month from April to September between 3pm and 5pm. 

 

After completing our 4 and a half mile walk, we arrived back at the attractive cafe, where most of us  stopped for a coffee or light lunch before returning home. The walk was led by Margaret and Jeannette.

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East Chiltington – Sunday 21 October 2018

Twenty six of us set out on a cool, but beautifully sunny autumn morning from St Michael’s Church in the grounds of Plumpton College. We headed north past Lambert Farm, where luckily for those with bovine phobia, there was no sign of the docile bull that had been on the track when the leader did his reconnoitre a couple of weeks previously! We traversed a couple of fields, scaring a large brood of pheasants as we passed. Then we entered Grannies Wood and followed a rough path, which emerged from the wood, crossing a small stream by a “bridge”, which consisted of a single, rather wobbly plank of wood. Having successfully manoeuvred our way across, albeit with a certain amount of trepidation and assistance, the going became easier, through another couple of small woods and intervening fields. Eventually we reached the track leading from Streat to Plumpton and turned right towards Plumpton, taking in magnificent views of the Downs in the morning sunshine. We took our coffee break on a grassy bank just by Plumpton Racecourse and enjoyed a bit of basking in the sun as the temperature slowly increased and we shed our outer garments. Suitably refreshed, we continued to the lovely church of East Chiltington. Here we turned southwards through ancient woodlands and past the mysterious-looking grounds of Novington Manor, then by the side of the Plumpton Stream until we emerged at Plumpton College. From here it was a short walk past the front of the college to return to the car park. The walk was led by Alan and Vivien took the pictures.

 

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Rodmell – Wednesday 17 October 2018

It was a promising morning – blue sky, not a trace of wind and very mild.  Thirteen walkers set off from the car park in Rodmell, the picturesque village at the foot of the Downs. Rodmell is particularly associated with the Bloomsbury Group as we were reminded when we walked through the village and passed Monk’s house, Virginia Woolf’s home.  We soon began the steady ascent out of the village and up onto the South Downs Way, stopping to admire the long views across to Newhaven and the glittering, completely flat sea.

 

Our route took us past Breaky Bottom, the vineyard where the grape harvest was in progress. Unfortunately a little too early in the day to stop for some wine tasting. Then continuing across fields over the open down land, with sheep as far as the eye could see and stunning views in all directions. And with the sun shining and the temperature rising, jackets and top layers were being shed – could this really be mid-October?  Our half-way break, sitting on a grassy bank, proved an opportunity for a late top-up of that suntan before the cold, dark months kick in. 

 

Our return route – uphill and down dale – provided further unexpected late season delights - skylarks singing and soaring above us and a cloud of red admirals taking advantage of the profusion of ivy flowers alongside the path leading back to Rodmell.

 

We ended our walk in the way all the best walks end – in the welcoming arms of the village pub.  Sitting out on the terrace in the sun, contented after our exertions, quenching our thirst and wondering if this might be the last day of this wonderful Indian summer. The walk was led by Vivien.

 

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