Walk Reports from December 2019 to date


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Ringmer – Sunday 24 October 2021

On a beautiful, sunny Sunday morning ,sixteen of us set off from The Wok restaurant along the Broyle in Ringmer for a five-mile circular walk. After a short walk along the grass verge, we turn off onto a footpath across farm fields towards Rowland Wood. Some of the fields had been ploughed and were muddy in places where the tractor had churned up the soil. The huge field of sweetcorn on our right had been harvested since our walk-out a few weeks before.


When we reached Rowland Wood, we saw a selection of fungi including shaggy ink cap or lawyer’s wig. The woods were looking their best with sun streaming down on carpets of fallen leaves. We made our way towards Park Corner and walked along the quiet road for a short while before turning into Laughton Common Wood. There, we found a comfortable mossy bank to sit and enjoy our coffee and snacks. We waved at some horse riders, walkers with dogs and bikers going passed us.


As we continued through woods, we saw a roe deer standing motionless in the middle of the path for a few minutes until it decided to move out of our way. We walked past some fields to reach the woods running parallel to the B2192 that takes you past the East Sussex Gliding Club back towards the Wok Inn. It was a pretty path through the woods with streams and a very green pond covered with duckweed. One needed to tread carefully with tree roots sticking up and badger and rabbit holes on both sides.There were a few tricky stiles which slowed us down. By one o’clock, we were back to our cars and there was an option to have a drink in the Wok. The walk was led by Margaret and Jeannette.




Poynings - Sunday 10 October 2021

On a misty October morning, twelve of us departed from Poynings and slowly clambered up to the top of Devil’s Dyke, encountering several groups of teenagers on some kind of hiking and map-reading project.  On reaching the summit, the mist somewhat marred the normally spectacular views of the Weald but provided an ethereal autumnal aspect. After walking along the top of the Downs for a mile or so, we descended steeply (and carefully) to Fulking. Here we crossed the road and had a well-earned coffee break in the little recreation ground. From there our route took us across and along several fields, at one point having to double-back as we found ourselves on the wrong side of a hedge, having missed the well-hidden path to the other side. After rectifying the situation, we continued north and then eastwards, admiring en route a couple of white ponies, a field of alpacas, who seemed to find us as interesting as we found them, and a couple of docile horses. Finally, we emerged onto a lane that took us back to Poynings. The walk was led by Alan.




East Dean – Sunday 26 September 2021

Fifteen of us got off the bus from East Dean at South Downs Way/ Eastbourne Downs Golf Course and crossed the A259 to walk down the hill towards Beachy Head. When nearly opposite the pub, we walked down the path to the RAF Bomber Command Memorial on the cliff top, where we paused for a coffee break.


The views along the way were lovely - despite the day being overcast and breezy at times. We continued along the cliff top towards Belle Tout until we found a sheltered spot for our lunch break with views of the Light House.


The day was beginning to brighten as we walked along the path running parallel with the Beachy Head Road. We turned inland up a road leading to a farm, across fields and pathways to bring us back to East Dean via Birling Manor and Gilberts Drive. Young cattle in one field weren’t interested in us thank goodness! They were too busy eating lush grass. We also saw some birds of prey. This enjoyable walk, of just over 6 miles, was led by Hazel and assisted by Graham.




Beach Head Lighthouse








Black Clouds – Bright Seas









Coffee Stop at War Memorial



Lighthouse From the Lunch Stop




Teddington Holiday – 13 to 15 September 2021

On Monday 13th September, 19 of caught the train to Teddington Station where we met our excellent guide Sophie who took us by public transport to Kew Gardens. We had an early lunch then guided tour to see a few highlights of the gardens including “the Five Lions” - all trees surviving from 1762 when the gardens were established. As we walked three miles back to Richmond, we enjoyed views of Richmond Lock and Palace among other sights.


On Tuesday 14th, we walked to Strawberry Hill for a conducted tour of this wonderful old house. After our visit, we walked along the river to see Turner’s House and Marble Hill House. A ferry took us across the river to Ham House where we enjoyed a tour of the extensive grounds by Vivien one of our members who volunteers there. After refreshments, we walked upstream and back to our hotel, the Lansbury via Teddington Lock. We had time to relax before our evening meal.


On Wednesday morning, we checked out of our hotel and walked through Bushy Park to Hampton Court Palace for an optional conducted tour of the palace which included the sumptuous Royal Chapel. We met at the jetty for a boat trip down to Richmond from where we made our way back to the hotel. There was a choice of local pubs for a late lunch before returning home. The holiday was arranged by Margaret and organised by Travel Editions.







Janet’s Strolls – Summer 2021

During the summer months Janet has led six strolls of 2 – 3 miles usually incorporating a café stop. We have strolled the railway land, the downs, along the river and over to Kingston. We also took the train to Newhaven and walked through to Seaford and the final stroll saw us taking the train to Bexhill and walking to St Leonards. Between 6 and 12 people have come on these strolls where they have enjoyed the shorter distances and gentle pace with a chance to catch up with old friends.







Lewes Loop Holiday – Tuesday 17 to Friday 20 August 2021.

The group’s summer holiday began as a three-day trek to finish the High Weald Landscape Trail at Rye. Covid restrictions rendered that impossible so the next plan was to walk the Vanguard Way, starting at the end. The “pingdemic” put an end to that idea so the final decision was to walk the Lewes Loop instead.

The Lewes Loop is a 33 miles trail that passes through a number of villages surrounding Lewes. Being a loop, it is possible to start anywhere along the route but for the purposes of splitting it up into easily walkable chunks, we started at Southease train station on Tuesday morning, having caught the train from Lewes at a very civilised hour. A steady climb on the South Downs Way took us to the top of Itford Hill which affords a nearly all-round panorama east to Seaford Head, south to the sea and Newhaven and north up the valley of the River Ouse to Lewes. At the radio masts the route took us down to Glynde where some of the group took a train to Lewes whilst the remainder clambered up the hill to the Caburn ridge. From there, we descended gradually towards the Glyndebourne wind turbine, and here took a slightly longer route than planned, ending up on Potato Lane outside Ringmer. We walked along the Lane to Ringmer, where most of the party waited for the bus back to Lewes. The three remaining stalwarts had a refreshing cup of tea in Ringmer and were joined by a fourth member for the final leg of the day. This took us through fields of different crops to Plashett Wood, which we circumnavigated to arrive at Halfway House in Rose Hill. As we had made good progress, we arrived 45 minutes before schedule and were able to revive ourselves with a drink in the pub before catching the bus back.

On day two, the weather remained overcast, and we returned to Rose Hill and continued south-westerly until we reached the Ouse at the Anchor Inn. After a short coffee stop, we continued along the river towards Barcombe Mills. The banks of the river were overgrown with the very attractive but destructively rampant Himalayan balsam for most of the way. From Barcombe Mills, our route took us along a very narrow path through a seven-foot-high field of maize, which one or two members found a little overwhelming. Furthermore, the “path” disappeared before the end of the field, so we had to fight our way through the last few metres, only to find no apparent exit through the barbed wire fence! Luckily, we found a gate a little further down and having survived this little (mis)adventure, we made our way to Barcombe Cross and had our picnic lunch on the tables of the Royal Oak (which was closed). Half of the party decamped back to Lewes and the rest of us continued across country to South Chailey, then past an orchard with a large flock of free-range hens darting about. From there, the route took us across the land around North Barnes Farm, which at the time of writing, is at the centre of a major controversy. The land is owned by Eton College and there is a proposal for a new village with 3000 houses to be built on the site. Unsurprisingly, there were many placards on display, objecting to the proposal. We were scheduled to catch the 15.49 train from Plumpton back to Lewes, but as we approached the station, it looked as if we were not going to make it and would have to wait an hour for the next train. Somehow, however, we managed to put on a final spurt and caught the train with about 30 seconds to spare!

On Day 3 we took the train back to Plumpton, from where we walked around the racecourse and across to East Chiltington. The weather was much improved with bright sunshine, though not too hot for walking. We continued south, past Novington Manor towards the Downs. There was evidence of an imminent event at the Manor with several tents and signposts which intrigued us and had us guessing as to what was going on, but no definitive answer. We soon reached Plumpton village and started the steep ascent of the north face of the Downs. At the top we were rewarded with spectacular views of the Weald on one side and the Downs falling away to the sea on the other side. We had our lunch stop by the side of a field that was being harvested. This generated a lot of interest for five or six buzzards that wheeled around overhead, presumably on the scrounge for exposed rodents. After our break, we continued largely downhill, enjoying the first of the blackberries that were just beginning to ripen, and reaching our destination at Falmer just before three o’clock.

Five hardy souls elected to walk the 8.5 miles on the last day, from Falmer to the starting point at Southease. The route takes in the wondrously quiet village of Falmer, considering how close it is to the A27 which so cruelly divides it, the National Nature Reserve at Castle Hill, the lost hamlet of Balsdean, the memorial to Colonel John Harvey who died there in a riding accident in 1819 and the villages of Telscombe and Southease, the latter with a round church tower which is one of only three in Sussex. At the end of the walk, two of the group were presented with their certificates for completing the whole of the loop. They had the honour of being the first ever to complete it on consecutive days. Around 20 members walked for various parts of the loop on various days. Graham led on the first and last day and Alan did the honours for days two and three.




On the Downs above Plumpton




Jevington - Sunday August 15 2021

After struggling to get past the roadworks on the A27 and to find somewhere to park in Jevington (many thanks to the Eight Bells for allowing us to park on their property), thirteen of us set off up Church Lane, past the church and then onto the South Downs Way through the woods. Near the top of the hill, we continued along the track bordering Lullington Heath. The verges at the sides of the track were carpeted with a plethora of wildflowers, many of which were identified for us by Vivien, our botany expert. Several species of butterfly were flitting around, including Chalkhill and Common Blue, Red Admiral, Small Heath and the ubiquitous Meadow Brown.


After a descent and another ascent, we had our coffee break at Winchester Pond, a lovely spot with an ancient Dewpond, restored relatively recently. Following the path around Lullington Heath, the track took us down the edge of Friston Forest and was again awash with a blaze of purple and yellow wildflowers and on one hemp agrimony bush we were treated to a display of at least six basking Red Admirals. Another descent was followed by the final ascent, at which point the weather, which had been pleasantly warm and sunny, took a turn for the worse with a haar, or sea mist, rolling in, resulting in a sudden unwelcome and unexpected drop in temperature.


So, we made our way back down to Jevington, stopping to admire the old church and to examine in the churchyard, the gravestone of Sir Hartley Shawcross, the chief prosecutor at the Nuremberg Tribunal in 1945. On reaching the village, several members had a welcome drink at the Eight Bells. The walk was led by Alan.




Kingston Circular – Tuesday 10 August 2021
Such excellent timing - we could hardly believe our luck! It was a beautiful warm, still, sunny morning after a week of unrelieved, gloom, rain tropical downpours. Perhaps summer had returned after all. Six of us set off, initially walking through the town, to pick up our trail at Juggs Road. The first half of our walk – from Southover to Kingston Ridge, and then up to the South Downs Way – was all uphill, some gentle, some steeply ascending especially the last part up to the SDW. We stopped near the Ashcombe Windmill to take in the views and make use of this iconic structure as the backdrop for a group photo. When we finally reached the SDW, we agreed that this was the perfect place to stop for a breather and quick refreshment, providing the chance to appreciate the magnificent long views in all directions that more than compensated for our exertions.


After a short stretch of the SDW, we reached Dencher Road, the start of our descent into Swanborough. Apart from the wonderful downland views, the numerous butterflies flitting around and the myriad wild flowers - including a vast swathe of the now relatively rare delicate harebell and a few round-headed rampions (the Pride of Sussex) - added to the pleasures of the walk.


On reaching Swanborough and crossing the Newhaven Road, the rest of our trail was entirely on the flat – across fields of corn ready to be harvested, alongside a stunning field of sunflowers (momentarily transporting us to the South of France) and finally along the banks of the Cockshut stream to emerge from the underpass back onto Southover.


It had been a lovely walk – glorious weather, magnificent landscapes, good company – all the more appreciated after our months of isolation.      The walk was led by Vivien










Falmer to Lewes – Wednesday 28 July 2021

17 members met at Lewes Bus Station to catch the bus to Falmer village for this walk. Just before boarding the bus the rain came down in torrents. We all thought this was how the walk was going to carry on. But on arriving at Falmer village the rain had stopped, all jackets came off and the weather progressed further. It was really good to have five new members join the group for their first walk. It was a steady climb all the way to Blackcap, with spectacular views of surrounding hills. By this time the wind was picking up, but undeterred we all carried on for our lunch stop on Blackcap. Feeling refreshed it was downhill all the way back to Lewes. The walk was led by Jean.




Wadhurst Bewl Water circular – Sunday 18 July 2021

Only mad dogs, and eight walkers from Lewes Footpaths Group, go out in the midday sun! On a very, very hot Sunday in July, eight walkers met in the village of Wadhurst for a circular walk, taking in some of the Sussex side of Bewl Water.

Staying in the shade as much as possible we walked between steep banks for a short distance, before turning onto open pasture land, spotting a huge puff ball mushroom on our way. Walking uphill our path was overgrown in places, before opening out onto farmland. We were following hedged field boundaries and walking through meadows. Arriving at Long Wood brought some respite from the heat. Here we stopped for a short rest before heading up through open fields again.

We continued walking on grassy tracks and through shady woods, eventually reaching the Bewl Water perimeter path. Here we were rewarded with beautiful views across the open water. With the wild flowers, birds, boaters, fishermen, cyclists and walkers there was much to see. Across the water the activity centre came into view.

Our route took us around the south west edge of the reservoir. Thankfully much of the path was through woodland, even muddy in places. Eventually we headed back up towards Wadhurst, passing hop fields and walking through the Wadhurst churchyard.



Lewes Stroll – Tuesday 1 July 2021

Our morning stroll on Tuesday, as the title suggested, was an amble rather than a ramble round the outskirts of Lewes ending up with a welcome drink in Grange gardens. The weather was warm but mostly overcast as 14 of us set off from the castle gate, rising past the bowling green to the castle mound. We took the left path to bring us down to Paddock lane before rising to de Montefort Road. Via the steps in Valence Road we carried on to the prison and the Southern most footpath along the South edge of the old race course.


Hope in the valley and the riding stables brought us to the footpath over the A27, up the steep hill to Juggs lane, making a nodding acquaintance with a grazing horse and flock of sheep on the way.


It was downhill all the way then via Southover High Street to Grange gardens and the tea shop by the terrace where we enjoyed refreshments and time to chat.




Iford – Wednesday 19 May 2021

On Wednesday 19th May, eighteen members met at the Railway Station for a four and half mile walk to Iford via the Convent Field, Rise Farm and the party field. The morning was very overcast with rain expected. We crossed the fields climbing over three styles into the lane that leads to Iford. On reaching the Church we took advantage of a break where some members visited the church. Recommencing our walk we carried on through the village and returned to Lewes along the path leading to the fishing lakes at Swanborough. The heavy overnight rain had made underfoot very muddy, the first time we had got mud on our boots for a long time. The sun had come out by this time and it seemed very tropical as we returned to Lewes where everybody had had a very enjoyable walk. This walk was led by Jean.




The Downs above Southerham Lane - Tuesday 4 May 2021

On Tuesday 4th May, ten of us set off from North Street car park in Lewes on a cold, blustery day. We made our way towards Cliffe High Street and on to South Street. From there, we passed the Snowdrop Inn and walked between the River Ouse and A26 until we crossed over the busy road and into Cliffe Industrial Estate. After walking along Southerham Lane past Monkey Buzness and Hanover Displays, the road turns sharply left and then almost immediately we found our footpath leading upwards through woods to the top of the Downs. Despite the wind blowing in our faces, we enjoyed a panoramic views of the Downs with Mount Caburn in the distance. Skylarks were singing all around us.


We turned back towards Lewes Golf Course and made our way down the steep Chapel Hill back to South Street. The highlight of the walk was having coffee and delicious cake in a cafe nearby. The stroll was about three miles long and was led by Margaret and Jeannette.




Barcombe Mills – Sunday 25 April 2021

On Sunday, April 25, 18 walkers set off from Barcombe Mills in sunny but cool weather, to the sound of many different birds enjoying Spring as much as we were. After passing the ponds and the hamlet, we crossed the cutting of the much written-about Lewes-Uckfield railway line. We then headed in a northerly direction across fields and the Red Bridge. The high point of the walk was along Dallas Lane through Burtenshaw and Agmond’s Woods, which were carpeted with primroses and wood anemones, with bluebells just beginning to make an appearance. A lovely orange-tip butterfly settled very close to us and displayed its wings for us, unperturbed by our close quarters. This was quite a treat as normally these delightful little butterflies flit around and one usually only catches a glimpse as they fly by.


At the end of the woods, we took our coffee break in a field protected from the cold north wind and enjoyed the sunshine just by the Ouse. Our return journey took us along the river, which we crossed on the White Bridge, and then again by the Anchor Inn, which, as expected, was very busy with folks enjoying the recent release from lockdown and the sunny weather. We followed the River all the way back to the car park, passing quite a number of people kayaking on the water. The walk was led by Alan.




Seaford Head – Wednesday 21 April 2021

It was a bright sunny morning when 8 of us set off from Splash Point to climb to the top of Seaford Head.  For some it was the first steep ascent in quite a while, given that lockdown walks tended to be on the tame side.  The view looking back from the top towards Seaford and Newhaven beyond was splendid, the sea so calm and blue. We all agreed that this more than compensated for our exertions. 


We made our way along the cliff, any inclination to wander near to the edge for a selfie (not our style!) thwarted by all the new roping-off after numerous cliff falls.  Turning inland, we soon arrived at South Hill Farm which offered another stunning view across the green downland landscape with fields full of sheep and lambs, and the confetti effect of all the blackthorn in full bloom everywhere. 


Our route then took us down lanes, across fields and onto the track alongside the Cuckmere River.  We found a sheltered spot out of the pesky wind for a short refreshment break, listening to the non-stop birdsong from the hedgerows, and were then treated to that glorious sight of a little egret in flight.


On reaching the famous Coastguard Cottages, we picked up the cliffside track for our return to Splash Point.  But we first turned around to take in the view of the Seven Sisters.  It seemed to us all to be even more beautiful than we recalled, those white cliffs whiter than ever and the sea more blue.  Maybe it was because of our long confinement and we were seeing it all anew.  More signs of spring accompanied us on our walk back – swathes of purple ground ivy and violets, and skylarks singing as they soared heavenwards.


A most enjoyable walk, made all the more special being in this wonderful landscape in a social (though socially distanced) group after our year of isolation.








Piddinghoe – Sunday 11 April 2021

On a bright but cold morning, 16 of us assembled in Southease, glad to be out and about with others after the lifting of restrictions. Passing the lovely 11th century church of St Peter, we crossed the C7 and headed up the valley, which is delightfully named Cricketing Bottom. Ascending the hill at the top of the valley, we joined the road that dropped down into Telscombe village, where we took our coffee break in the churchyard. From there we headed eastwards, passing behind the furthest inland houses of Peacehaven and eventually descended steeply into the valley that emerges by Dean’s farm, north of Piddinghoe. Crossing the C7 again took us to the bank of the Ouse, which we followed in a bracing wind back to the bridge at Southease.


The walk was led by Alan.





Offham and back Over The Downs – Easter Monday 5 April 2021

Eighteen of us convened for the first covid compliant walk following the easing of restrictions.  We were a cheery lot, perhaps a little giddy after being released from such a long period of semi-confinement.  Suitable social distancing was observed: only prime-ministerial elbow bumps were seen by way of greetings.  After such a long time without any real rain the river bank beside the Ouse was quite dry, indeed, some of the more clay like parts were beginning to crack up a little.  The icy north wind blew into our faces whilst the sun struggled to make an appearance.  Turning left under the railway, we walked beside the old cut used by barges carrying lime from the chalkpit, seen ahead, and joined the byway to Offham.  Soon after we were passed by a couple of motorbikes, with riders, of course, which seemed a noisy intrusion but was perfectly legal on the byway.


At Offham we joined the Greenwich Meridian Trail, crossed the, even on a bank holiday Monday, busy A275 and, leaving the trail, we began the arduous toil up the path to the top of the chalkpit.  The view from the top looking over the vast expanse of the Weald below is always reward enough for the effort and for a short time, whilst we sat and gathered our strength, the sun came out.  Continuing to the very top we came upon two bird watchers who were taking pictures of a Peregrine Falcon with a camera fitted with one of those huge telescopic lenses.  The bird, a female, was chewing on its mid-morning snack.  At the bottom of the motor road, various members left to go their separate ways home, the main group continuing down Hill Road and thence into town.  For just a few seconds tiny hail stones fell onto us and were gone in the blink of an eye.  So much for the forecast of snow.


Hilda and Graham led this very enjoyable outing.




Hooray, walking again




We have to climb up there?

Yes, but the view is worth it.




So we sat down and enjoyed it.


There is a bird there, honest.



Kingston Circular – Tuesday 22 December 2020

In the end, six of us met at The Swan in Southover for another chatty outing.  Following Juggs Road over the by-pass and up and over to Kingston, we paused at Nan Kemp’s Corner.  The sign is legible on one side and by the wonders of 4G one of the group discovered that the lady in question is supposed to have killed her baby and served up the unfortunate child as a pie to her husband.  She was hanged, of course.  With that cheery piece of information about a baby in a pie to digest, we carried on up Juggs Road and forking left before the really horrible, rough and slippery bit, we climbed up to the top where we sat and ate some of Tesco’s finest mince pies whilst enjoying one of the very best views over the valley of the River Ouse.  By the standards of the eighteenth-century Breach Road may well have been considered to be a reasonably good quality highway.  Certainly, it is good enough for some stout oxen pulling a cart but probably not fit a coach and horses.  Nowadays that designation is qualified on OS maps with the notation of (Track) after the name.  And it was down this rough and winding track that we found our way to Swanborough and the C7, which we crossed.  The mud in the next field was no worse than what we had already encountered and was much less clingy than mud usually is in the clay fields in this area.  Thus, unhampered by heavy muddy boots, we found our way back to our starting point by way of the sewage works and a short stretch of the Greenwich Meridian Trail.  Such was the intensity of the conversation between the walkers, the little light rain at the end of the walk was hardly noticed.  Hilda and Graham led this pleasantly enjoyable, Covid-compliant, pre-Christmas, circular saunter.




Housedean Farm to Lewes Prison – Wednesday 9 December 2020

On Wednesday 9th December, six of us caught the bus from Lewes to Housedean Farm and after crossing over the A27 by the farm bridge we turned left and took the lane to Balmer Farm. We soon left the noise of the main road behind us as we climbed gently up to walk through the farmyard and then the site of the deserted medieval village of Balmer. Although this is a scheduled ancient monument there is not a great deal to see by the casual observer except for a few lumps and bumps which could be interpreted as the house platforms of previous dwellings. We continued along the farm track enjoying wide ranging views to Firle Beacon and Seaford Head; the OS map informing us the trig point on Balmer Huff we passed was 170 metres above sea level.


After about another kilometre we branched off to the right to cross yet another scheduled ancient monument; Buckland Bank Iron Age/Romano British settlement, a complex area of clearly visible banks and depressions thought to be an ancient field system and cemetery. We carried on eastward, passing through several gates that were now surrounded by small lakes due to the recent heavy rain. These required a certain degree of athleticism to negotiate without getting wet feet as it involved grasping and swinging around the gate post. We all survived with dry feet helped by Alan, who being a true gentleman, held the gates open. The rest of the walk passed without incident, except for a few muddy bits, as we headed back towards Lewes, walking past Ashcombe Bottom and then the old racing stables to finish at Lewes Prison. The walk was led by Wendy.




Glynde to Southease – Sunday 18 October 2020

Wearing face masks is not yet “normal” but most of us are now so used to it that only occasionally does one need to be reminded about it.  Dutifully covered our group made the short train journey from Lewes to Glynde from where we set off on our four-mile walk to Southease.  Having navigated the A27 we began the slow climb to the top of The Downs where we joined the South Downs Way close to the radio masts that are so prominent that nobody notices them anymore. 


On the way up we were entertained by many paragliders taking their first flights.  Nothing fancy just straight down to the bottom. The weather was dry with little by the way of sun or wind, perfect walking weather in fact. There were plenty of other walkers on this popular section of the South Downs Way, in including a couple from Australia who have been trapped here by the corona virus.  There is no getting away from it.  Having negotiated the steep descent down to the track that goes across the A26 we arrived with an hour to spare before the next train to Lewes, time we spent in the garden of the excellent Courtyard Café where the staff coped admirably with the influx of thirteen thirsty walker as well as many other hikers and not an inconsiderable number of cyclists who hobbled around on those funny shoes that they wear.  It had been a most enjoyable walk led by Hilda and Graham.




Henfield – Sunday 4 October 2020

Despite the discouraging weather forecast of rain across more or less the whole country, we decided to risk the walk scheduled from Henfield on October 4th, and indeed, although the weather could not be described as nice, it rained only sparingly for some of the time, and for a couple of minutes, the sun made a half-hearted attempt to appear.


We started from the Old Railway Inn and walked north along the Downs link path. This follows the course of the old railway line from Guildford to Shoreham and is enclosed by pleasant woods. After about a mile, we reached the River Adur and walked along its left bank in the direction of Shoreham. This part of the river is lovely and an excellent place for wildlife-spotting. Even in the inclement blustery weather, we saw a large flock of Canada geese, several swans, a flock of goldfinches and a number of house-martins, who we were surprised had not set off for warmer climes. On his recce a few days earlier, the leader had even spotted a seal, which apparently had been in residence for most of the summer. After about two miles walking along the bank, we turned left, through more woods and a few isolated houses to reach our cars again. The walk was led by Alan.




Newmarket Inn to Lewes – Wednesday 30 September 2020

Since the resumption of walks following the Covid-19 lockdown this was to be the first to use public transport to get to the start of a walk and was restricted to six participants, including the leader, in accordance with the Government’s latest restrictions. In the event there were only four of us starting off from the Newmarket pub as one couple had to drop out on the day because of a sore throat. It turned out to be a sensible decision to restrict numbers as the bus was quite busy and it would have been difficult to socially distance if there had been more of us. A long but gentle climb up to the crest of the downs and a short stretch on the South Downs Way afforded wide ranging views all round. Some of the surrounding fields had been recently ploughed, prompting one of our number to remark it was like walking in an Eric Ravilious painting (see Downs in Winter).


The weather forecast had predicted an unsettled day and right on cue we were subjected to a short sharp rain shower which coincided exactly with the time we would have sat down for a welcome rest and our elevenses. So, we pressed on down Breach Road, a chalk track, through Swanborough, to cross the C7 road where we stopped for our belated break in the lea of a hedge. The route back to Lewes took us across the flat fields of the Ouse flood plain and along the banks of the Cockshut stream, by which time the rain cloud had passed and we enjoyed warm sunshine. The walk was led by Wendy.




Waldron – Sunday 20 September 2020

Eleven walkers, split into two groups, set off from the quintessentially English village of Waldron on a glorious September day for a roughly 5 mile walk on the High Weald. A beautifully varied walk, much of the route is accessed through conservation areas under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme. Through pastures with thriving hedgerows, country lanes and woodland, after passing by Dower House Farm, we dropped down to stop for a break on the edge of Kiln Wood, an area of ancient woodland. Joining a section of the Vanguard Way, the walk ended with a climb through meadowland up to the church at Waldron, conveniently situated opposite the Star Inn. The walk was led by Linda.




Horsted Keynes – Sunday 6 September 2020

The Lewes Footpath walk on Sunday 6 September was a 5-mile circular walk starting at The Green Man pub in Horsted Keynes. The weather was perfect and eight of us set off at 10.00 a.m. for a circular walk north of the village. It was a lovely varied walk though woods, across fields, past lakes and fishing ponds and along the Bluebell Railway line; we even got to watch the steam engine chugging past as we sat with our coffee enjoying the view." The walk was led by Diana




Piltdown – Wednesday 2 September 2020

A group of 15 of us set out on a 5 mile walk from Piltdown Pond.  Walking conditions were perfect – dry underfoot, sunny and not too warm.  The inability to share cars meant that the parking availability was only just sufficient – possibly a point to watch for future walks.


Piltdown is the place where Piltdown Man was discovered.  This supposedly important “missing link” was exposed as a forgery in the 1950s.  The pond was looking attractive with quite a large number of ducks, the only wildlife we saw en route.  From the pond, we first walked south along a quiet road towards Sharpsbridge for about a mile before heading NW towards Fletching Church along well-trodden paths through farmers’ fields, including shoulder high maize, crossing the A272.  Fletching itself has a number of attractive buildings around the church.  One of the entrances to Sheffield Park lies within the village.  The recreation ground conveniently provided plenty of benches for a socially distanced elevenses.  The church dates from the 12th century but is marred by more recent additions.  It is said to be the church where Simon de Montfort prayed before the Battle of Lewes.  The comedian Jimmy Edwards, who lived in the village, is reported to be buried in the churchyard, though we failed to find the grave.


From the church, we turned east.  Here we encountered the only real obstacle other than stiles, a single strand electric fence erected across the route, which will be reported.  We continued on, following an undulating route past many oak trees with acorns littering the ground, until we crossed the A272 again and headed back across the golf course to our starting point. The walk was led by Peter and Janet







Clayton to Wolstonbury Hill – Sunday 23 August 2020

Ten of us set out from Clayton village and immediately clambered up the steep slope of the Downs to Jack and Jill windmills. After taking in the view, we went along the South Downs Way past New Barn Farm, before descending towards Pyecombe. A conveniently located picnic table could not be (and was not) resisted as a spot for a brief coffee stop, before completing our descent.


We crossed the A273 despite the heavy traffic, which kindly stopped for us, obviously taking pity on a bunch of ancient Brits! We continued on a gentler climb towards Wolstonbury Hill. This part of the Downs was still covered in a profusion of different wildflowers and the 360-degree views atop Wolstonbury Hill were spectacular. We treated ourselves to a second short break to absorb the views and then descended eastwards, first through downland, then woods and along a lane back to our cars in Clayton. The walk was led by Alan.




Lewes Strolls – Tuesday 18 and Wednesday 19 August 2020

On 18th and 19th August Janet led a two stroll around Lewes.  The first day was dry and sunny and five of us set off up Paddock Road then through the council car park to the top of the cemetery where we admired the view over Southover to the downs.  We walked down through the cemetery then along Bell Lane and past the Swan before crossing to the pretty path which runs at the back of the Tudor estate.  There are some splendid big trees along the route including a magnificent oak which must be hundreds of years old.  After passing the Southdown Sports Club we followed the path under the A27 and then through three green fields to our coffee stop in the wooden stand at the Rugby club with plenty of well spaced seating for everyone.  We returned via Priory Park. 


On Wednesday rain was forecast so just two of us did a shortened version of the stroll managing to get round before the rain set in. The walk was led by Janet.




Mount Caburn - Sunday 9 August 2020

Four of us met in Ringmer to walk up to Mount Caburn. The weather was extremely hot and four others, who had originally planned to join us then, declined to walk in the heat. We made our way along the permissive footpath from New Road, through the shaded wooded area to the foot of the Downs. Here, we climbed steeply up and enjoyed having the Downs to ourselves with not a soul to be seen for miles around. There was a very welcome breeze which cooled us down as we walked towards Mount Caburn.


Once we reached this prominent landmark, we stopped for our coffee break and enjoyed the panoramic views in every direction taking in the village of Glynde and meandering stretches of the River Ouse. Today there were no paragliders in sight but we did have to negotiate around a herd of black cattle who were, fortunately, too busy eating to take much notice of us. As we stroll around the ramparts, we stopped to look at some wild flowers and butterflies before making our way back across fields towards the farm track and New Road. Once we passed the wind turbine, we turned right down a narrow, shady path, passed a small cottage until we came out at Potato Lane. Then we walked back along the quiet lane to Gote Lane and back to our cars. The walk was led by Margaret







Lewes Racecourse to Plumpton – Sunday 26 July 2020

Eleven of us, suitably socially distancing in two groups, set off from the bottom of the road up to Lewes racecourse, colloquially known as the motor road, heading for Blackcap by way of Offham Hill and Mount Harry.  A threatening black cloud managed just a few drops of rain before being blown away by the wind that became ever more noticeable as we climbed to the top.  Our original destination of The Half Moon at Plumpton has not re-opened yet so a drink in the garden being off the itinerary, we found our way to a comfortable spot overlooking Ashcombe Bottom, where we were in the sun but out of the wind, for our picnic.  Refreshed, we meandered back to the start by way of the stables at the racecourse.  It is good to be walking in a group again, not least to catch up with all the gossip.  Graham and Hilda were the two leaders.




Wild Flower Walks – 3 and 16 July 2020

After 4 months of lockdown, we can at last get back to organising walks, albeit with a maximum of 6 people per group.  So it’s just in time to run a couple of the Wild Flower walks. These themed walks are for members who are keen to learn more about botany and the range of wild flowers in the local area.  After the very warm spring, the flora is about 3 weeks ahead of normal, so leave it much longer and most of the species would have gone over.


The unpredictable summer weather meant that the 1st walk had to be postponed by a few days, and also the 2nd.  The 2-week gap between the walks revealed how quickly things change, with several species noted at the start of the month no longer seen by mid-July.


The walk took us up Chapel Hill, the steep ascent being mitigated by the frequent stops required to examine all the specimens en route.  The verges on the upper half of Chapel Hill are rich in flora, as many as 30 species of wild flower by the time we reach the golf club.  Then onto Southerham Farm Nature Reserve, where we are soon regaled with the skylark’s song.  We find many new species as we take the track descending to Oxteddle Bottom.    Here we take a short break and check for birds at the dew pond (linnets and goldfinches on the 1st walk).


Then along the valley floor to reach the path that ascends to the Caburn track, the highlight here being the profusion of pyramidal orchids (in full bloom on the 1st walk; mostly gone over by the 2nd) among the carpet of wild marjoram, lady’s bedstraw and myriad other species.  We then return on the track that skirts the golf course and make our way back to Lewes.


It has been a very productive morning – we have identified 91 species - and that’s without attempting to get to grips with each and every dandelion-type plant we came across.  We agree that we’ve all learnt about our local patch, while enjoying being out in the glorious downland landscape.


The walks were led by Vivien.







Firle to Charleston – Tuesday 14 July 2020

On Tuesday 14th July, five of us met at The Ram, Firle car park to set out on a four and a half mile walk to Charleston and back along the Old Coach Road. Another group of five walkers followed the same route ten minutes behind us and we retained social distancing in the groups. The sun was shining as we crossed the lovely Firle estates with Firle Place, the Grade 1 manor house, on our right. As we crossed fields of crops, we noticed a circular 3-stored Tower on our left. It was originally built by Viscount Gage in 1822 as a game-keepers cottage at the top of a small hill.


When we reached Charleston Farmhouse, we were given permission to sit by the farmhouse pond to have our coffee break. Charleston was once the home of artists Vanessa and Clive Bell and Duncan Grant and a meeting place for the Bloomsbury group of artists. We enjoyed the tranquillity of the pond before continuing on our way to Tilton Farm and on to the Old Coach Road which links the villages of Firle and Alfriston.  With wonderful views of the South Downs on our left, we made our way back to Firle village. Here some of us enjoyed a drink at The Ram Inn before going home. The walk was led by Margaret.




Jevington – Sunday 8 March 2020

Sunday’s Footpaths Group walk began in Jevington. From the village car park, we climbed steadily up the track leading to Bourne Hill, the views becoming ever more spectacular as we gained height, despite the moderate visibility. We turned right where the path crossed the Wealdway and after a short distance headed downhill into woodland. The loggers had been at work felling trees because of ash die-back disease and walking proved difficult.


We sat on some convenient logs for a short rest and coffee, and then climbed uphill again to rejoin the Wealdway. The skies cleared but the wind was fierce as we tramped across the high ground towards the Butts Brow car park and then on to the appropriately named Cold Crouch.  Bearing left, we picked up the 1066 Country Walk footpath which took us downhill out of the wind, with easy walking over pleasant grassland, to our starting point in Jevington. The walk was led by Anne, with invaluable assistance from Alan and Graham.




Litlington – Sunday 23 February 2020

Twelve intrepid walkers braved the gale-force winds, driving rain and mist to join the four-mile, circular walk around Litlington. From the Plough and Harrow, we turned right until we reached the entrance to Clapham Farm. Here we continued up the track, passing some farm buildings on our way. After a mile, we entered the woods and kept to the main path ahead. At the fingerpost, we turned left towards Lullington Heath Nature Reserve - one of the largest and best-preserved chalk heaths in Britain. It is designated a Special Area of Conservation mainly because of the rich variety of orchids, chalk flowers and wildlife that can be found there.


We found a sheltered area for our coffee break.  There was even a fallen tree to sit on.  Once we reached the top of the rise on Lullington Heath we would have been afforded magnificent views in all directions on a fine day but we did stop to admire the beautiful Winchester Pond, an ideal picnic stop on a better day. We then made our way downhill to Littlington with the full force of the wind in our faces, passing the Long Man Brewery on Church Farm and back to our cars. Some people had a drink at the pub. Everyone enjoyed this invigorating walk which was led by Jeannette.




Kingston to Lewes – Wednesday 19 February 2020

Another walk that had to be moved.  This time from the boggy lowlands of the Ouse Valley between Iford and Lewes to the higher, drier land between Kingston and Lewes.  Seven of us clambered onto the 123 bus to Newhaven.  It was 9 o’clock in the morning and we were the only passengers.  We alighted in Kingston and walked up The Street to the church, passed through the churchyard, crossed over the playing field and found our way onto Kingston Ridge.  The houses along this road are set back from the road to a greater or lesser extent and most have large gardens in keeping with the times that these houses were built when there was no pressure to cram as many housing units into a plot of land as possible.  Of course, these houses were not built as an estate but over the course of many years, starting in the late Victorian times, I guess, and continuing on to present times.  Large and impressive Victorian and Edwardian houses are followed by pointy roofed Scandinavian style houses.  A few of them are quite ghastly. 


Climbing up Jugg’s Road and past the mock-windmill the whole of the lower Ouse valley is spread out below.  It seemed to be windless but the plume of whatever it is that comes out of the Newhaven incinerator was pointing horizontally east.  Skylarks performed magnificently overhead before we continued on, following Jugg’s Road over the by-pass and into Lewes.  The walk ended in Fuego Lounge with coffee and various cakes to taste.  Hilda and Graham led the way.




Falmer to Lewes – Tuesday 4 February 2020

The sun shone and the wind blew on the seven walkers who set off from Falmer train station to walk to Lewes across the top of the Downs.  We began by skirting the impressive and oppressive walls of the Amex stadium before finding our way to Falmer village where the path beside the road to Woodingdean is an easy ascent onto the Downs.  Half way up we were able to escape the noise from the road by heading east along a bridleway with broad views back towards Lewes.  A short climb took us up to Juggs Road which was our route to Lewes, arriving in town by the Swan Inn in Southover.  The skylarks were to be heard twittering away above us.  Why they were not blown away in the gale force wind must be down to the powerful effect of evolution.  Only the fittest survive.  Hilda and Graham led this bracing outing.




Falmer to Plumpton – Tuesday 26 January 2020

Apart from the unplanned encounter with some horses and a lot of very squelchy mud, the walk on Sunday went more or less as planned.   Thirteen walkers set of from Falmer and climbed steadily up Ridge Road onto The Downs north of the village.  The wide-ranging views to the coast were limited by the general haze and low clouds which foretold the rain that had been forecast for the afternoon.  Continuing on we joined the South Downs Way where three of the group elected to walk directly back to Lewes, a marginally shorter walk than the planned route. 


The rest of us continued on to the Half Moon Inn by way of a narrow and somewhat precipitous path down to the road.  At East Chiltington Church it became apparent that we were a little pressed for time if we were going to catch the train at Plumpton Station so the leader decided to take a previously un-walked path directly to the station.  This was a mistake because half way along the path goes straight through a series of horse paddocks each with a ladder style across dividing fences, or gates where the horses had churned up the ground into a lovely gloopy unavoidable mess.  The short cut had turned into a bit of a nightmare.  Previously pristine boots were now covered in mud. 


The final quarter of a mile along the road was covered in record time and we arrived with minutes to spare.  A not entirely welcome memorable end to an otherwise very pleasant walk.  Graham was the responsible leader.  And the rain that had been forecast for the afternoon arrived on time.




Downs behind Peacehaven – Sunday 12 January 2020

Prior reconnaissance revealed that the rain-generated mud round Fletching would have rendered the planned walk too unpleasant to contemplate, so the walk was relocated to Peacehaven.  Twenty-three of us began the walk at the always impressive Meridian Monument on top of the cliffs overlooking a very grey and stormy sea.  The fierce gale-force west wind blew us along as we headed east but we soon turned inland and found our way through The Big Park, past the mostly hidden sewage works before a gentle climb through the outskirts of Peacehaven to the footpath that runs to Telscombe where a smattering of mud was encountered. 


The mandatory coffee break was taken amongst the gravestones by the church and this fortified the group for the climb out of the village onto Telscombe Tye where the full force of the wind reasserted itself.  This last part of the walk follows the route of the Greenwich Meridian Trail, finishing as it does back at the monument to King George V.  Graham and Hilda were the leaders of an enjoyable and cobweb- clearing outing.




Winter Solstice Sunrise Stroll – Saturday 21 December 2019

The purpose of the Winter Solstice Sunrise Stroll was to watch the sun rise on the shortest day of the year.  Pedants pointed out the shortest day was actually on the Sunday but getting up so early on a Sunday just seemed to be too uncivilised so at a quarter past seven, whilst it was still quite dark, five of us convened on Cliffe Bridge.  The overnight rain had come to an end and the clouds were breaking up, so, with high hopes of seeing the sun, we set off up Chapel Hill.  On the way to the top we were passed by several cars on their way to the golf club.  Surely the bar was not open that early in the day?  Through the car park and onto the footpath towards Caburn.  The clouds were closing in and one large black example rained all over us.  A faint redness in the east and generally lightening skies convinced us that the sun was up and that we could return to town and find somewhere to eat breakfast.  Above us two silhouettes were playing golf.  That is dedication for you.  At Bill’s we were asked if we had booked, which surprised us as the place was only a quarter full, if that.  By the time we had finished our food the place was full of breakfasters. Just another aspect of Lewesian life that we discovered that day.  Not only do the locals eat out for breakfast, they book in advance.  How decadent is that?  Hilda and Graham admit responsibility for the outing.





On Cliffe Bridge – the sky gets lighter.



On the Downs – See the sun?




Blackboys – Sunday 15 December 2019

Braving a weather forecast promising heavy showers, eight walkers set out from Blackboys along a muddy track through Kiln Wood. Turning into Hollow Lane, we followed the road for about half a mile before turning off onto the Vanguard Way along a very squelchy track, which brought us out to the road again. A trudge across a muddy field and a rather slippery scramble brought us to Oak Tree Farm and back to the road, where we stopped briefly for coffee and a snack. Crossing the busy B2192 we joined the Wealdway traversing another broad field, where the rain caught up with us, slanting in on a bitter wind. The shower passed quickly and the sun was shining by the time we walked through New Place Farm, encountering runners being cheered home after a cross-country competition. After a steady uphill climb we reached the main road back to Blackboys. The walk was led by Anne.




Clayton – Sunday 1 December 2019

Eight stalwart members, undaunted by the advance warnings of the prospect of a mud bath, set off from the Clayton Mills car park on a cold but clear day. After record-breaking Autumn rainfall, it was a relief to find the long-range weather forecast for a dry day was correct and we even enjoyed some sunny spells. We set off in a southerly direction on a short stretch of the South Downs Way before diverting off onto another path that took us to Lower Standean Farm. We passed through North Bottom, where we had a short refreshment stop making use of some trees whose bent trunks made a convenient seating area, before climbing back up towards Ditchling Beacon Nature Reserve. Here we re-joined the South Downs Way to head westward back to the car park with the winter sun highlighting the dips and folds of the downland panorama spread out before us.


The anticipated mud was less severe than expected, having dried out a little in the preceding week, and one of our number even boasted his boots were cleaner at the end of the walk than when we started (draw your own conclusions about how clean he usually keeps his boots!).

The walk was led by Wendy.

















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