Walk Reports for 2023


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Bramber-Upper Beeding – 12 November 2023

This walk was rescheduled from the previous Wednesday when it had poured with rain all day. The forecast had suggested a 50% chance of rain on the 12th, but luckily it held off for the whole of the walk. We assembled at the normally quiet car park in Bramber and were surprised to find it teeming with motor bikes. Apparently, there was an annual bikers’ gathering in Shoreham and they always meet in Bramber. We started our walk, crossing the Adur into Upper Beeding, then wending our way through the back streets, eventually taking the path up Windmill Hill, from where there were extensive views across the Adur valley down to the sea and northwards towards the Weald. 

After a short descent and crossing the Henfield road, we started our gradual climb towards Beeding Hill. Here we encountered our second surprise. Tucked away, in the middle of nowhere, is the Golding Barn Industrial Estate – who knew? We passed by it and continued uphill, reaching a clearing at 11 o’clock, where we had a minute’s silence for Remembrance Sunday, followed by our coffee break. Further along the wooded path, we encountered our third surprise – an abandoned car by the side of the path. We couldn’t work out how it got there, as the path in both directions was barely wide enough for a car and extremely rough and rutted. After a certain amount of investigation and speculation, we continued up the gentle incline to the top of Beeding Hill, where there were further magnificent views. We descended on the South Downs Way, managed to cross the very busy and hazardous A283 with all twelve members intact, and the less hazardous River Adur, along which we then proceeded back to Bramber. The ramble, modified from Colin Ulph’s Southdown Walks, was led by Alan.


Pictures by Clare






                                             A Splendid View




                                   Another Splendid View



Look at that – We could have driven up here for the view


Arlington Reservoir – 24 October 2023

It was a sparkling autumn day when a group of seven of us started a stroll from the car park at Arlington Reservoir near Berwick. We took a detour on the left of the reservoir which took us through varying landscapes of woodland, fields, and farms such as May's Farm and Ludlay farm.  We returned to the cafe area at the reservoir where we were able to take advantage of the sunny picnic tables to stop for a break.

We continued along a path which took us behind Polhills Farm which enabled us to gain access to the circular reservoir walk.  Among the birds there, we spotted a couple of Egyptian geese. It was a pleasant stroll which took us along the reservoir and through woods eventually taking us back to the car park. The walk was led by Zena.



Iford via Rise Farm – 15 October 2023

Thirteen of us walked from Lewes to Iford via Rise Farm.  Although close to Lewes, part of this walk was “off-limits” until some years ago.  We left Lewes train station in glorious sunshine and walked through the Priory Gardens before turning into Cockshut Road and going under the Lewes Bypass towards Rise Farm.  We continued over the hill on a new bridleway through The Brooks, that led us with a few kinks towards Lower Rise. Then we turned west across the Ouse flood plain towards Iford. 

After a short coffee break at the church, we took the footpath past Kingston back to Lewes.  This footpath has recently been upgraded both north of Iford, and on a stretch alongside Lewes Garden Centre, making it a comfortable walk without any stiles.  Where the footpath joins Kingston Road, we walked beside the Rugby pitches, and continued along a driveway that would lead us back to Cockshut Road and Southover High Street.  The walk was led by Wolfgang.


Pictures by Clare





                                                              Coffee Break - by




                                               Iford Church


Lower Dicker to Horsebridge – 4 October 2023

The route from Lower Dicker to Hailsham, especially along the Wealdway, has plenty of stiles to cross.  One or two were a bit wobbly and some quite a height but most were just stiles that were ordinary every-day stiles.  It was the number of stiles that was the problem, the best part of 20 of them, so the decision was made to curtail the walk at Horsebridge and forgo the pleasures of the Cuckoo Trail and the exotic atmosphere of Hailsham on a Wednesday afternoon, which had been originally planned.  It was a sound decision, the number 28 bus, recently re-routed to Eastbourne, turned up on time and whisked the eleven walkers back to Lewes in time for a late lunch.  That was an improvement on the bus out to Lower Dicker which was twenty minutes late, but we were determined to not let that spoil the day.  The walking was easy, the coffee stop was in the children’s play park at Upper Dicker where some of the party did their best to re-live their lost childhood.  The route then took us through the extensive playing fields of Bede’s Senior School, across the Cuckmere River and across the A22, which was a bit hairy.  A pleasant walk led by Graham and Hilda.



Fletching and Sussex Border Path – 24 September 2023

On a pleasant Sunday morning, a small group of us left Lewes, driving to Fletching for a circular walk.  Turning right along the village High Street, up to Atherall’s Farm, we then turned left along the farm track.  Here we paused to ensure we untied and retied the farm gates, leaving them as we found them.  We were soon heading across fields, watching and admiring the many birds gathering on the wire fence.  Swallows we think!  On reaching the road at Spring Farm, we turned left, along the road for a short while, before picking up a path towards Sheffield Mill Farm.  At the Mill Pond, we stopped for a short break and our morning refreshments, before continuing towards Furner’s Green.  On reaching the quiet lane, we headed north for a short distance before picking up a track to take us out onto the A275 opposite Heaven Farm.  Walking through the farm, we soon picked up the Sussex Border path, heading south.  Following a minor deviation from the footpath, the fingerpost was lying on the ground; we walked under the Bluebell railway line and eventually came out on Sloop Lane with the Sloop Inn providing a second opportunity for refreshment!  Soon on our way, we were turning off the Sussex Border Path, to head east along the Sussex Ouse Valley way, through Waspbourne Wood, eventually crossing the A275, at Sheffield Park, to head back to Mill Lane.  We paused along the way to admire a very fancy Shepherd’s Hut, wonder at the sign that read: “NO trespassing.  Violators will be shot.  Survivors will be shot again”; and marvel at a line of redwood trees.  On reaching Mill Lane, we were grateful for our strategically parked car, thus avoiding the last mile and a half of uphill narrow road walking to reach Fletching.  Oh, if only it were possible to reach Fletching via the Sheffield Park parkland!  Anita led the walk, which was from the Ordnance Survey South Downs National Park and East Sussex Outstanding Circular Walks.


Pictures by Clare





                               Sheffield Mill Pond




                                The Violent Sign



                    Heaven Farm Oast House


Newick to Uckfield – 12 September 2023

After the heatwave of the previous week, the warm, though slightly humid, weather was perfect for the 5.5 mile walk from Newick to Uckfield.  From Newick church, where there is a solitary Commonwealth War Grave for a soldier killed only weeks before the armistice in 1918, our route headed east along the valley of the River Ouse.  Soon we came across a sad, abandoned muck spreader, all tilted over on a very flat tyre.  It was the explanation for the odour that permeated the air thereabouts because the muck still looked quite fresh. Carrying on, we walked under a row of Sweet Chestnut trees where the prickly nuts hung in abundance from the branches.  Sadly, they were not quite ready to be harvested as they make delicious soup.   At the bridge over the River Ouse, we had an impromptu game of poohsticks before negotiating the slightly challenging path beside Shortbridge Stream that took us to a welcome refreshment break at The Peacock Inn.  After crossing the well-tended sward of Piltdown Golf Club, we took the track to Farhazel Farm where we found another abandoned vehicle, this time a bulldozer beside the path.  This was a small, almost “domestic” machine that now looks like a piece of artwork in its simple mechanical construction.  One of the party climbed on board for a pretend ride.  After crossing the Uckfield by-pass, we explored Lake Wood, under the care of the Woodland Trust since 1993.  It belonged to the Streatfield Family for two hundred years and they had developed it into a pleasure garden with walkways, steps and hidden caves carved out of the huge sandstone outcrops.  After scrambling around the lake, we headed for Uckfield and the bus back to Lewes.  Nine of us enjoyed the outing led by Hilda and Graham.


Pictures by Clare and Graham





                     Saggy Spreader




                                Lost it



                         Vroom vroom



                          On the rocks


Seaside Scramble – 9 September 2023

Maybe it was the fact that the walk was on a Saturday, not a Sunday as usual.  Maybe it was the fact that the weather was forecast to be the hottest day of the year, or maybe it was just one of those things but, as it was, there were only four of us who undertook, what turned out to be, a rather strenuous exploration of the sea shore below Beachy Head. The path down from the Countryside Centre is precipitous at first but it does mean that we got to the path down to Cow Gap quite quickly.  At the bottom of that narrow path there is a stout, steel set of steps that when built were clearly perfect for their purpose.  Over time the beach below has been washed away so now the bottom dangles in mid-air and the final “step” is quite a stride.  Turning right we scrambled our way to Falling Sands which turned out to be a proper sandy beach, fully exposed at low tide.  Next time, if there is a next time, we shall come armed with spades and build a large sand castle.  The sea shore between Cow Gap and Holywell is some of the most exhausting walking we have ever undertaken.  Between the large rocks, the ground is covered with, mostly, large round pebbles that act like ball-bearings, slipping from under one’s feet.  By this time the sun was well and truly up and the temperature was well up too.  The distance between Falling Sands and Holywell is exactly one mile but it seemed ten times longer.  There were some diversions along the way.  A solitary heron stood proudly on the edge of the sea amongst the gulls and cormorants, some of whom were spreading their wings to dry in the sun.  Approaching Holywell, the lady leading at this time suddenly turned round and said words to the effect of “don’t look.”  Our puzzlement was answered by the sight of a brown, bare bottom attached to a man of uncertain age sunbathing beside the path.  The next naked man was clothed only in a straw trilby whilst seated in a chair reading a book.  He was so tanned that he was the colour of a polished conker and about the same shape.  The third naked man was also seated and reading a book but his tan was much less impressive.  Welcome relief came at the Holywell Café where a light lunch in some welcome shade revived our flagging spirits.  And we needed all the spirit we could muster because the climb back up to the Countryside Centre was relentless.  Enjoyable is probably not quite the right word but memorable it certainly was.  Graham and Hilda were the irresponsible leaders.


Pictures by Graham




           At the top of the path down to Cow Gap                       





                     Falling Sands – not as big as it looks 


                                                                                                                        At the bottom – ready for the rocky path ahead


Berwick – 22 August 2023

On a lovely summers evening, twenty-seven of us set out from Berwick village on a track across the fields towards Alfriston. The recently ploughed fields attracted large flocks of gulls and the Downs looked stunning in the evening light. On descending West Street into Alfriston, we were surprised by the amount of traffic along this normally quiet lane. We later discovered that the main road through Alfriston was blocked, so West Street had become the main thoroughfare past the village.  In Alfriston, some of the participants made straight for the pub. Others relaxed on the Green or mooched around the village. Twenty minutes later, we set off on a different return route, via the thankfully quieter Sloe Lane, followed by a wooded stretch on a narrow path. We emerged back into the fields with magnificent views of the Downs and surrounding countryside once again. We made our way across the fields until we were back at Berwick church. There was just time for a brief visit to the church for those not familiar with its famous interior paneling painted by Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant. We finally made our way to the Cricketers Arms where we all consumed a hearty meal. The leisurely stroll in the evening sunshine and the excellent food were enjoyed by all. The walk was led by Alan.



East Dean – 13 August 2023

Thirteen of us got off the bus at South Downs Way/Eastbourne Downs Golf Club bus stop and walked down the hill on mainly grassy paths towards Beachy Head. We had our coffee break on the cliff tops at RAF Bomber Command Memorial, where it was slightly sheltered from the wind. Thankfully the sun did attempt to come out!

We then continued along the cliff tops towards Belle Tout, with super views along the way. We saw many butterflies and wild flowers, and watched birds overhead including a couple of buzzards. As we neared Belle Tout, we took the lower path that runs parallel with Beachy Head Road and then turned inland to walk up the road to Cornish Farm. We went through a gate where, luckily, the cows were in the distance. There were many sheep over the wall and a couple of strays in front of us. We then walked along pathways that led back to East Dean, where our cars were, via Birling Manor and Gilberts Drive. At the Manor, we heard and saw a very handsome cockerel with his lady friends! During our walk we saw a few low flying aircraft heading towards Eastbourne, which was probably something to do with the air show next week. A walk of just over 6 miles was led by Hazel.


Pictures by Clare and Graham





             Coffee-stop by the memorial




             Distant Beachy Head Lighthouse



                         Distant Belle Tout


Barnsgate to Uckfield – 23 July 2023

The rain “promised” a few days earlier by the Met Office for the morning, passed over early but the prolonged overnight downpour had left its effect on the Wealden clay paths traversed during our hike.  The ground was now just a little slippery but this was of no consequence for the eight seasoned walkers who de-bussed at the entrance to Barnsgate Manor.  Our route took us down the lane to Stroods and thereafter, more-or-less, due south through the always charming Weald countryside.  A placid but inquisitive piebald horse came across and “asked” to have its nose rubbed and then briefly followed us across a field.  A herd of cows took off at our approach.  Most disappeared round the corner of the field in a great, galloping stream but some hung back before setting off and one-in-particular stood for a long time watching the departing beasts before she too followed apace, her pendulous udder swinging violently from side to side as she galloped away.  What cows have-to put up with!  Our picnic was taken in the shelter of the cemetery wall of St Margaret the Queen in Buxted Park.  Wikipedia informs us that the church is a grade 1 listed building and is dedicated to St Margaret of Scotland, an 11th century Queen of Scotland.  Good old Wikipedia.  Our route into the centre of Uckfield took us through Hempstead Meadows Nature Reserve, a wet-land area important enough to have its own entry in Wikipedia.  (See earlier comment).  The walk was led by Hilda and Graham and the bus journey back to Lewes was uneventful.



Wander round Wolstenbury – 16 July 2023

Fortunately, the previous day's gales had abated.  Ten of us assembled at the end of Pyecombe Street for a walk around Wolstenbury Hill. We set off along a very narrow bridleway where, luckily, we did not meet any horses as there would have been little room to pass. A gate took us onto National Trust land with some dramatic views. We carefully climbed down a steep and slippery path and followed a track through fields to join a narrow lane at Foxhole Cottages. We continued northwards through woodland, a pleasant stroll in no way spoiled by the 'Keep Out – Private' notices posted on either side.  We passed through Randolphs Farm, pausing to admire the beautiful old farmhouse with its splendid chimneys, and turned right into the quaintly named Bedlam Street.  Soon after, we stopped for our coffee break in parkland with stunning views of the Hill framed by an avenue of small oak trees. We promised ourselves to return to admire them in their full splendour in a century or two.  Our route took us past Danny House, with its magnificent Elizabethan facade, notable for its huge windows, a great novelty and sign of wealth in Tudor times. A short walk along New Way Lane brought us to the foot of Wolstenbury Hill and a steady climb to the summit, where we enjoyed the 360-degree views - despite being exposed to the full force of the wind.  Our descent on the south side of the hill and our return to Pyecombe was hard work against the wind and involved some rather tricky stiles. The walk was led by Anne.



Burwash and Batemans – 5 July 2023

This walk, which was described by Nigel Watts in the Newsletter of the South Downs Society, started along Ham Lane, past the attractive Rose and Crown pub in the delightful village of Burwash. After crossing several fields and woods with fine views across the Rother valley, we took our coffee break by a small pond and then proceeded around Franchise Manor.  We stopped to chat with a man we thought might be the grounds man but turned out to be the owner, not only of the Manor but also of the neighbouring farm and all the surrounding fields. He told us a bit about the manor and we then wended our way up Holton Hill. Near the top we inspected a WWII memorial to Flight Lieutenant Reginald Rimmer who was killed when his Hurricane was shot down and exploded above Franchise Manor on September 27th 1940. Research by one of our members revealed that in 2013, the owner of Franchise Manor, Stephen Fitzgerald, commissioned a permanent memorial. At the unveiling date on 27th September 2014, 74 years to the day after Reginald Rimmer had been shot down, amazingly, after so many years, more than fifty members of Reginald's family attended.  From Holton Hill, we went along the ridge of the hills before crossing the main road, descending into the Dudwell valley, and eventually reaching Batemans, the home of Rudyard Kipling. We had lunch, either picnicking in the lovely gardens or at the tea-room, and then investigated the house. Ninety-five per cent of the furnishings were Kiplings and the house is full of interesting Kipling memorabilia. From the house, it was a short climb up the hill to return to Burwash village. Eight of us enjoyed this day out, led by Alan.



Coleman’s Hatch – 25 June 2023

It was a warm summer's day when eleven members of the Footpaths Group enjoyed a mainly flat ramble of four and a half miles. We started and finished at the Hatch Inn pub in Coleman's Hatch, in the heart of Ashdown Forest. Much of the walk involved walking along well shaded country lanes and green fields which felt cool and refreshing on such a hot day. We passed through Possingford Wood, near Hartfield, and enjoyed a game of poohsticks on the iconic bridge along with many other children and their families. We also saw Piglet’s and Pooh’s little houses in the woods as well as passing some huge gated properties with expansive grounds before heading back to the Inn. One property had magnificent horse head sculptures on both gate posts. Another one had 11 tall granite standing stones arranged in a circle with a large table altar in the centre. We could not find any information about these stones! It is worth noting that this walk is accessible by public transport from Uckfield during the week.  The walk was led by Clare.


Pictures by Clare and Graham






                                                Possingford Wood


                       Playing Poohsticks






                                                  Piglet’s House



                                                    Standing Stones



See the Sunset Saunter – 21 June 2023

The purpose of the “Sunset Saunter” was to see the sun set on the longest day of the year. At 16 hours, 42 minutes and 49 seconds, the 21st was 3 seconds longer than the 20th and two seconds longer than the 22nd, small but crucial differences.  The clear skies allowed us to see the sun going down as we descended on the path from the Glyndebourne turbine to Ringmer and it was nicely red, as it should be.  Before reaching the Green Man, we were confronted by up to forty young cows, rushing towards us in great expectation of food one supposes but none was forthcoming from a group looking forward to some suitable liquid refreshment before catching a late bus back to Lewes.  Before that, the five members who caught the train from Lewes to Glynde enjoyed a very pleasant stroll in the balmy evening air.  The climb out of Glynde towards Mount Caburn was taken at an appropriate pace, slowly, but having attained the top of the ridge the pace soon picked up to steady.  Along the way we found some Pyramidal Orchids by the wayside, looking very smart, and just round the corner many paler, scruffier orchids identified by Alan’s app as Fragrant Orchids, the scientific name being Gymnadenia conopsea.  Of course, that had to be an invitation to test the fragrance of these small, scruffy flowers and, indeed, they do have a most fragrant fragrance.  Though the temptation to take a photograph was great, it will be left to the imagination of the readers the sight of walkers of a certain-age bottoms up and noses down exclaiming “gosh they really do smell sweet.” At the turbine we briefly encountered a man with his camera on a tripod taking a time lapse series of photographs of the setting sun and why not on the longest day?  After that it was down-hill all the way, a metaphor for the rest of the year as the days get ever shorter and Xmas arrives with terrible inevitability.  Graham and Hilda did the leading, often from behind.


Pictures by Graham





       Perfect Pyramidal Orchid




            That nice red setting sun



                    “There it goes”



     Close encounters of the Bovine Kind


Groombridge – 6 June 2023

On a cloudy morning in early June, a group of walkers from the Lewes Footpaths Group left Lewes, heading for the picturesque village of Groombridge.  Leaving our cars in the village car park, we set off across the playing field towards Groombridge Place.  Here we paused to admire the stunning moated manor house, with its amazing gardens.  The wisteria was magnificent, out in full bloom with its beautiful pendants of flowers.  We continued to the left of the manor house, crossing open pastureland, through a field of Cameroon sheep, to emerge onto the road by the church.  Walking past The Crown and heading out of the village, we turned off the road on a footpath across open countryside.  Eventually we crossed the Wealdway long distance footpath, to join the Sussex Border Path.  By this time, the cloud had burned off and we enjoyed a very sunny walk, stopping for a coffee break, and admiring the flora, including wild orchids, colourful azaleas and rhododendrons, and fresh young wheat crops along our way.  Following the Sussex Border Path, we arrived at Ashurst Station.  Walking out to the road, we crossed under the railway and over the River Medway, before heading south through quiet countryside.  At one point, we had to detour around footpath improvements.  Here we briefly stopped to watch the mechanical unrolling of new fencing.  Eventually we re-crossed the Wealdway, to reach the Forest Way path.  We stopped for our picnic lunch before finally following the well-used path all the way back into Groombridge.  Anita led the walk.  Our route was from the Ordnance Survey South Downs National Park and East Sussex Outstanding Circular Walks.


Pictures by Anita





           Huge Pendant Wisteria




              Cameroon Sheep



        Sunny Rhododendrons          



Seaford – Bo-Peep Circular – 28 May 2023

Eighteen members left Firle Road on a sunny but slightly breezy morning and walked a short way to Blatchington Golf course. We carefully crossed a fareway and followed a pathway that runs between several of them. Hawthorn trees in full blossom were a glorious sight. We walked along a narrow track with fields planted with broad beans and enjoyed the bird song. On reaching Paul Earls seat, we continued inland up a wide and partly grassy track leading to Bo-Peep car park. We enjoyed glorious views of the sea, Newhaven and the countryside inland. We met quite a few people out with their dogs, cyclists racing by and horse riders.  Near Bo-Peep, we stopped for our coffee break and sat on four benches overlooking land to the north and magnificent views of the area surrounding Arlington reservoir. Resuming our walk, we followed the South Downs Way going east for a short while then turning south to follow the grassy path towards Rathfinny vineyards. We saw, and heard, many skylarks and spotted a kestrel hovering above us. On reaching the vineyards, we took the chalky path up the hill to Paul Earls seat before reaching the narrow track to the private road that borders the golf course and turning back to Firle Road. This walk of about 6 miles was led by Hazel and assisted by Graham.


Pictures by Clare





The view that we walked all the way up the hill for




                    Blooming May – Cast a clout



            Exmoor ponies by Rathfinny Vineyard


Lilacs In Withdean Park – 24 May 2023

On a bright, sunny morning our group of walkers hopped on the number 29 bus from Lewes, picking up several more members along the way.  Our hop-off point was Falmer station: the start-point for our ramble from Stanmer Park to Withdean Park.  Crossing the A27, via the pedestrian tunnel, and onto the University of Sussex Campus, the we headed into Stanmer Park, past lower lodges and up, into Great Wood.  The bluebells were still evident, still looking and smelling delightful, as we walked through the dappled sunshine to Upper Lodges.  From here, we were out in glorious open countryside.  We stopped for a brief coffee break, admiring the views towards Firle Beacon one-way, and across to the Chattri and over to Brighton and the coast in the others.   On reaching the Piddingworth Plantation, we crossed Ditchling Road to continue across the open downs, turning left after a short while to walk along the side of an oilseed rape field and across Tegdown Hill.  We paused on the way to admire the cattle and ponies grazing in the fields.  On reaching the A27, we crossed over on the pedestrian footbridge, and down into Patcham.  For a short while, we followed a series of twittens and quiet residential roads, to emerge, eventually, into Withdean Park.  Here, the sight and smell of the lilacs, which Withdean Park is renowned for, was our reward for our efforts.  We strolled around the park, sitting for a while to eat our picnics and enjoy the scenery.  A final meander took us down past stunning lilac bushes and amazing specimen trees, before reaching the A23.  Here we were soon on our buses back to Lewes.  Anita led the walk.



Ashurst Wood – 14 May 2023

Seven of us met up for a 5.5 mile walk in Ashurst Wood, West Sussex led by Clare. She had first visited these woods with the Footpaths Group back in November 2013. Although it was further afield than usual for a ramble, it was well worth the effort. Ashurst Wood is a mile short of East Grinstead and runs through the most beautiful countryside. The fields were lush with fresh grass and many trees were full of blossom. Soon after starting the walk, we could see the imposing mansion of Stoke Brunswick which was formerly an independent boarding school once based in Hove. Winston Churchill was one of its early pupils. Bluebells were in abundance in the woods.


Pictures by Clare





             Enjoying the View




                   Just Relaxing         



                  That School



                  Those Bluebells


Cooksbridge to Lewes – 9 May 2023

Footpath group walks are categorised into flat, undulating or hilly, with modifiers like very or quite (whatever quite might mean in this context).  This walk had all three types of terrain.  However, the hill turned out to be a “really quite hilly” hill and the undulations were hardly noticeable at all.  It began at Cooksbridge train station and the narrow path that runs next to the “up” platform which takes you to the flat path across a field towards the Downs.  Considering all the rain in the recent past, the mud that we encountered was a bit pathetic.  Nothing to really get stuck into.  On reaching Beechwood Lane we crossed over a new stile constructed by the Monday Group, a group of volunteers based in Cooksbridge who replace broken stiles with brand, spanking new ones, mostly of the “ladder” type, which are a joy to climb over. The cost of the wood for this stile came from a bequest by the Footpaths Group’s late president, John Vokins, who died at the end of last year and the Monday Group have agreed to dedicate the stile to the memory of John who was a long-standing member of the Footpaths Group and served it in many capacities.  Striding on across more soggy flat fields we eventually joined the permissive path created some years ago, with the blessing of the local landowner, running through the trees beside the busy road to Plumpton.  At Courthouse Farm (was there ever a courthouse here?) we began the assent of the “really quite hilly” hill.  It was long and it was slow going, rising around 100 metres over the course of about 400 metres (or 1 in 4 in old money).  The side of the hill was strewn with many cowslips, all perky and yellow, something to lift the spirits of anybody faced with a “really quite hilly” hill.  At the top we all flopped and tried not to look too tired out.  The clouds were gathering, obscuring the sunshine that had manged to break through earlier.  We were informed by one of the group, with a working smart phone, of course, that the rain promised for noon would not now arrive until six.  Reassured, we made our very gently undulating way from Black Cap down to the stables by the old race course.  Back on the 14th May 1264 Simon de Montford gathered his troops in this area before the Battle of Lewes.  Although Simon defeated Henry III on the day, only a year later he was hacked to pieces by soldiers under the command of Henry’s son, Prince Edward, at the Battle of Evesham.  This is what happens if you fight the King, it ends in failure.  A sobering thought for anybody thinking of challenging our new King, Charles III.  Ten of us survived the walk led by Hilda and Graham.


Pictures by Graham




             John Vokins’ Stile



         Strung Out on the Really Quite Hilly Hill



                       Pert and Yellow Cowslips



Barcombe Mills – 16 April 2023

Our planned route upriver from Barcombe Mills had been pretty much impassable the previous week on account of the excessive rain we have had over the last few months. As an alternative, we went over the river, past the pools and weir, all of which were in unusually high flow. Passing through the hamlet, we came to the track of the old Lewes-Uckfield line and turned north to walk along the track, which was quite muddy in places but was at least passable! One member nostalgically recalled travelling on the line from Uckfield to her school in Lewes in the 1960s. After about a mile, we were able to regain our original route and soon reached the Anchor Inn. From here we were able to pick up the river walk, which was surprisingly mud-free, and we continued up to and then over the White Bridge, stopping en route for a coffee break on the banks of the river. The sun was out, it was warmer than had been forecast and the many blackthorns in bloom looked stunning. After crossing the bridge, we continued along the river until we reached Dallas Lane, where we started our return journey along the lane. At this time of year, Agmond’s and Burtenshaw Woods are carpeted with primroses and wood anemones. Violets were still in bloom and the first bluebells were showing their noses. At the end of the woods our route took us across fields down to the Red Bridge and up to Camoys Court Farm, from where we made our way back to the car park at Barcombe Mills. The 15 walkers enjoyed the sunny weather and were led by Alan.



Bolney – 11 April 2023

The walk around Bolney had to be severely curtailed owing to the extremely muddy conditions, which made the planned route impassable in places. A small group of us, suitably shod in Wellington boots, met at the top of Bolney Street and took the footpath running west, skirting some fields occupied by ponies munching hay. After a short section on the road, we doubled back along a footpath that returned us to the originally planned route along the High Weald Landscape Trail, with views across to the impressive pile of Wykehurst Park, a privately owned Victorian mansion built in the style of a French chateau, and used as the set of a number of films. Next came an area of woodland which was seriously swampy underfoot, but we struggled unscathed to a little bridge after which the path sloped uphill and was considerably drier. It was delightful walking among the trees, with the first bluebells peeping out, and celandines, violets and primroses lining the path. We returned to Bolney along Colwood Lane, which was pleasant walking along a tree-lined road virtually free of traffic, and stopped briefly to admire a family of peacocks in one of the properties we passed. We returned to our cars before the threatened rain set in. The walk was led by Anne


Pictures by Clare




                      Wykehurst Park



                                   A very tall tree



           One of those Peacocks - with Leaves



University of Sussex Boundary Walk – 2 April 2023

The University of Sussex waymarked Boundary Walk was established about 15 years ago.  Fifteen of us started the walk from the Swan pub in Falmer village, led by Alan, who has been at the University for over 50 Years. The well-concealed path descends into woodland by a very old, ivy-covered flint wall, eventually emerging by the Sports Centre Car Park. From there we ascended Richmond Hill, which forms the boundary between the University and Stanmer Park. Half-way up the hill, we passed a curious building with diamond-shaped walls, which turned out to be a multi-storey car park and did not appear to fit in with Basil Spence’s design vision for the University (see below). At the top of the hill, we paused to take in the view of the whole campus, which has expanded enormously over the last two decades with many new residence buildings at the north end. We were pleased to note that these all had solar panels or sedum matting on their roofs. We descended to the northernmost extremity of the University, from where the Boundary walk ascends into woodland and skirts the eastern slopes of the University. However, this part of the walk had been extremely muddy, so we decided to stay in the valley and return through the University campus. We were astonished at the number of new buildings recently and currently being put up. Eventually we reached the original brick and concrete buildings of the campus, designed by Sir Basil Spence and built in the 1960’s. Seven of them have Grade 2* listed status, and Falmer House, the original Students’ Union building is Grade 1. Most of the newer buildings in this part of the campus have been designed to fit in with Spence’s original style. Finally, we climbed one of the sweeps of steps that are a feature of the campus, returning to the Swan, where we imbibed suitable refreshments before catching the bus back to Lewes.



Chailey Common – 29 March 2023

We were hoping for a fine and clear day for our stroll on Red House Common Nature Reserve at North Chailey, as it was twelve of us set off on a dull, damp morning on a path behind “Saritas" which was once a restaurant at North Chailey crossroads and is now a private house.

We made our way north along muddy paths between lots of dead bracken to the top of the common with breathtaking views across the Sussex Weald.  Following the path westwards, we passed a few dog walkers. Our path went down and along the edge of the common, where many gorse bushes were flowering. It was too early for bluebells. We stopped for a coffee break by the lovely Philip Mann pond where a number of trees had been felled, providing us with a choice of seating. Then we avoided areas of squishy mud by finding a slightly different route back to the top of the common again. The old Chailey Heritage buildings came into view. They have now been made into luxurious private dwellings.  We passed Chailey Windmill, the old Smock Mill and the ancient yew tree beside it which is said to mark the centre of Sussex.

We reached Memorial Common after crossing the A272. It was too early in the year to see the heathers, gentians, and rare orchids to be found there. Following more muddy paths through shrubs, we found the Memorial Stone which commemorates the two men who established the Chailey Common Nature Reserve in 1971, Garth Christian and Charles Constant. Here we took a group photo. Then we found our way back to the car park across the Common walking alongside the football pitch and decommissioned church - now a smart residence with extra triangular windows in the roof. Some people looked at the Commonwealth war graves in the old churchyard before driving home.  The walk was led by Jeannette and Margaret.


Pictures by Clare and Margaret





                                 Not so muddy path and bracken


                          Eight Happy Walkers – All in a Row





                                                                                                           In Front of the Monument



Seaford Head – 19 March 2023

The 11 walkers who gathered by Splash Point were delighted and relieved that the persistent rain over the past days had cleared away, leaving blue skies and sunshine.

We set off on the steep climb up Seaford Head, made more challenging by the unrelieved mud underfoot. This is a walk done at the same time every year and never has the ground been anything like as saturated as on this occasion.  Our boots were soon clogged with the stuff, calling to mind that mud and Sussex have a history – and a wide vocabulary.  There are some 30 different words for mud in Sussex dialect, each to describe a slightly different form of the substance, including: clodgy, gawn, pug, slab, sleech, slub, smeery, stug, ike, stoach, stodge – and on this walk we encountered many of these. 

After a brief pause to look back and take in the stunning views across Seaford and the coast beyond – the sea flat as a pancake – we continued along the clodgy track to Hope Gap (reminding some of the Bill Nighy/ Annette Bening film of that name, shot in this area), taking in the stunning view of the Seven Sisters, one of the most iconic views along the south coast; then on to the coastguard cottages before turning inland on the Vanguard Way beside the Cuckmere.  After a short refreshment break, we turned westwards crossing fields full of sheep and lambs, arriving at Chyngton Farm.  The fairly steep walk up Chyngton Lane to South Hill Barn at least provided a break from the mud. 

At this point, we agreed to diverge from the usual direct route back, as the descent down Seaford Head to Splash Point would have been decidedly tricky for some in these extremely muddy conditions.  So, we found an interesting alternative less steep route to reach our starting point.

We agreed it had been an exhilarating walk, and that we are so fortunate to have this beautiful landscape on our doorstep.  The walk was led by Vivien.


Pictures by Graham





By the Gate to Nowhere – not sure about the blue skies




                        What is this, then?


                  No idea


Herstmonceux Circular – 14 March 2023

Phew!  At last, there was a pause in the seriously strong winds of mid-March, although the threat of rain was still with us!  Five of us met for a hike around the woods and marshes of Herstmonceux.  Our route started from All Saints Church, immediately leaving the road and walking through woods alongside Herstmonceux castle to follow the footpath across the valley and up towards, but not reaching, Windmill Hill.  We turned back towards the Observatory Science Centre, closed to the public on the day and sounding full of the lively enjoyment of schoolchildren away from school.  We then crossed the road and headed through Wartling Wood, which unsurprisingly was very muddy!  Coming out of the wood we turned and headed towards Boreham Street, stopping for a mid-morning coffee break on the way.  While stopped, we found ourselves befriended by a small dog, who obviously knew the area.  I had seen it in a similar spot on an earlier occasion.  Then, it was playing Grandmother’s footsteps.  Each time I turned my back the dog moved nearer to me.  Before reaching Boreham Street, we paused to look back and enjoy the far-reaching sea views.  Once on the main road into Boreham Street, we turned right and soon picked up the 1066 long distance footpath.  We paused again, to appreciate the primroses.  A sure sign, despite the windy, wet weather, that Spring really is on its way.  The 1066 path took us over eight stiles, coming in very quick succession, then went around Wartling Wood, and eventually back to the Observatory Science Centre.  We continued to follow the 1066 footpath, taking in the views of the Science Centre and admiring the sculpture, Isti Mirant Stella, translated to They Wonder at the Stars and enjoying the view to Herstmonceux Castle, before arriving back at All Saints Church.  Here we separated.  One walker ended their walk.  Everyone else had a quick lunch in the churchyard: taking pleasure from the sunshine, but not the wind, before heading off for a short loop across Pevensey Levels and back to All Saints Church.  Our morning had stayed dry for us, even if very wet underfoot.  Once back at the church, the group spent a short while, perhaps optimistically, looking for a pair of walking poles, left in the car park at the weekend.  Sadly, at the time there were no walking poles to see.  However, on enquiring via Herstmonceux social media, it transpired a very kind person had picked them up, and was subsequently able to leave them safely in the church for collection.  They are due a huge thank you, for the return of much-loved walking poles and for confirming our faith in human nature.  Thank you.  Anita led the walk.


Pictures by Clare




           Hardy Hikers in front of the Observatory



                                A Castle that was never a Castle


Rodmell – 5 March 2023

The weather forecast had been all doom and gloom – low cloud with possible showers, temperature dropping with a chill wind. As fifteen of us set off up Mill Lane from Rodmell, we were pleased to note that, on the contrary, the clouds were light, there was no sign of either rain or wind, and it was not too cold at all. After passing the former home of Kiri Te Kanawa at the brow of the hill and crossing the South Downs Way, we descended steeply into the valley below, followed by a long but gradual ascent to the top of the ridge.  En route we were observed with some suspicion by a herd of docile cows and with nonchalance by a flock of equally docile sheep. On reaching the ridge, we had a brief drinks-stop and admired the wide view towards Saltdean on one side and the Downs all around. We proceeded northwards along the ridge for a while before turning right and beginning our descent. At this point one member of the party realized that she had left her sticks at the drinks-stop, so went back to collect them while the rest of us ambled slowly down the hill.  Our final ascent took us past Breaky Bottom vineyard. Given its fame, we were surprised at how small the vineyard appeared to be, compared to some of the newer vineyards in the county. We descended to Northease, crossed the C7 and then made use of the newly opened permissive path (Lennys path) across the edge of the field, for which we express our appreciation to David Robinson, the farmer for allowing access to his field, so we did not have to take our lives in our hands walking along the C7. Thanks also to the Monday Group for the superb stiles and to the donkeys for entertaining us. We arrived back in Rodmell in time to have a refreshing drink at the Abergavenny Arms, where it was mild enough to sit outside. The walk was led by Alan.


Pictures by Graham




                                             Dotty about Donkeys


                                                 Docile Donkeys



Isfield Circular – 1 March 2023

Eighteen members travelled by bus and enjoyed a five and a half mile walk in the beautiful countryside of Isfield - a village which has evidence of habitation dating back to the Neolithic period.

We started at Farm Place and headed towards the A26 towards Plashetts Wood. After walking through the wood, we crossed a field and continued straight along a drive leading to the East Sussex National Golf Course. Following the sign posts, we made our way to Little Hosted School before returning to the golf course. Following wayposts, we met the A26 again and crossed onto a lane signposted to Hosted Green. After a short stroll, we were back on the golf course again. At another sign we turned left and continued walking to a footbridge over the River Uck. Following the stream, we passed under the disused railway bridge. Walking straight through the fields we returned to Isfield High Street and had a much-needed cup of coffee in the Laughing Fish.


Pictures by Clare




                                A Motley Crew


                        A Glowering Sky



East Dean – 19 February 2023

On a sunny morning, eleven of us left East Dean and walked up the meadow called Hobbs Eares, through St Mary the Virgin churchyard to Friston pond. After crossing the A259, we made our way along Old Willingdon Road, past the water tower and enjoyed views of Jevington. We crossed fields of Southdown sheep and continued northwards towards the South Downs Way. Shortly before reaching it, we stopped for a coffee break at a bench with views of old farm buildings, trees and the sea.

On reaching the South Downs Way, we turned east and walked for about 20 minutes before entering more fields of sheep.  Then we walked southwards along a valley taking us back to East Dean. On our way, we heard a skylark as well as two very small aircraft, one of which we originally thought was a glider. I think the skylark was best! From the valley we saw where we had had our coffee break on the hill. Further down we noticed houses on the edge of East Dean. We returned to our cars via Downs View Lane and the A259. A walk of just over 6 miles was led by Hazel and assisted by Graham.


Pictures by Clare




                 Coffee Stop


         It was this high


           It was that way


      Wait for me – please



Roedean to Rottingdean – 14 February 2023

St Valentine’s Day started out being very cold, misty and murky.  However, that did not deter eleven members meeting to walk between Roedean and Rottingdean.  Their reward was almost immediate, parking in the Roedean Walkers car park in brilliant sunshine.  We headed towards Roedean School, then north alongside Roedean Bottom skirting around Cattle Hill, to turn back south towards Ovingdean.  To avoid walking along the road, the route then zigzagged behind St. Wulfran’s church, up over a steep stone stile to climb to the top of Cattle Hill.  After stopping at the top to admire the stunning views out to sea and catch our breath, we continued south and east back down towards Ovingdean, crossing the road to walk up onto Beacon Hill.  Taking in the views towards the St. Dunstan’s blind veterans building, the route continued past a long barrow.  Walking down towards Beacon Mill, we passed a group of volunteers clearing and managing the downland.  On reaching the windmill, the group paused for a coffee break, before their return journey.  This took them along the undercliff path, across the A259 at Roedean, and back to the car park.  It was a joy to be out on the downs, near the sea, in the sunshine, with pleasant company.  Anita led the walk.



Mount Caburn – 5 February 2023

Lewes Footpath Group walkers met on Cliffe Bridge on a fine Sunday morning for a ramble to Mount Caburn and back. We strolled along Cliffe High Street to Chapel Hill for the steep climb up to the golf course, with a few stops on the way to enjoy the view (at least that was our excuse). Turning left, we followed the edge of the course past the obelisk commemorating the Lewes Martyrs and uphill again to a gate leading into the woods at the edge of the Combe. Our path followed the contour line around the head of the valley, then we passed through a gate and struck out for Saxon Cross, with stunning views across the Weald. The Glyndebourne wind turbine was earning its keep by spinning steadily in the breeze. It was quite chilly despite the glorious sunshine but we managed to find a sheltered spot for our coffee break. Refreshed, we continued along the track to Mount Caburn, and negotiated the rather slippery paths up and down the ramparts of this ancient hill fort to appreciate the vista of the Ouse valley spread out before us. Some took advantage of the bench kindly provided by the Lewes Footpaths Group some years before. Our descent took us down through the nature reserve and along Oxteddle Bottom, passing the dewpond which was brim full after all this winter's rain. From there a steady climb took us to the edge of the golf course and along to the clubhouse, after which we returned to the town down Chapel Hill.  The group of fourteen was led by Anne.


Pictures by Clare




                 Keeping them corralled


                                   On the top


                           On the bench




Piddinghoe to Newhaven – 1 February 2023

It is perfectly possible that had the male half of the leader’s team followed the intended path there would have been just as much slushy mud as the party had to wade through on the path that was traversed.  There was no escape, the path was too narrow, everybody contorted themselves along the relatively clear edges, except for the sensible few who were wearing wellies, even so, boots did end up covered in mud.   If people have mud-packs to improve their facial appearance, then, surely, a bit of mud can do nothing but good for a stout pair of leather boots?  The rest of the ramble was without any excessive excitement.  After disembarking from the bus at Piddinghoe, the numbers were augmented by those who had driven to the rendezvous point, bringing the total to thirteen.  A steady climb out of the village brought us to a field with some very pretty horses, one of which was particularly friendly and loved having its nose tickled by the female half of the leader’s team.  The drink’s stop was taken overlooking the English Channel, always an uplifting view, especially in the dry and quite sunny weather we enjoyed on the day.  As we walked along the cliff to Newhaven, the ferry steamed out of the harbour, except that ships have diesel engines now so no longer “steam”.  After examining the gun emplacements below the coastguard station, we descended into the town.  The car-drivers and their passengers took off back to Piddinghoe and the rest of the group passed the time before the bus back to Lewes arrived by buying some fish at the splendid fish market and having a wander round the rather quiet town centre.  Hilda and Graham formed the leader’s team.


Pictures by Clare





        What a fine piebald horse



                Sorry, we’re off





                    Walkers hiding the view



         A sunny sloping sea


Friston Forest – 22 January 2023

Six hardy souls were prepared to brave a crisply cold clear morning for a walk from the forestry car park at Exceat into Friston Forest.  Fortunately, the walking conditions were not as icy as expected and it was comparatively easy going underfoot, with only a few easily avoidable icy patches. The walk followed the South Downs Way from Exceat into a shady Charleston Bottom, towards the top of which the group stopped in a rare sunny patch out of the shadows for a brief break for food and drink.

After the sunny respite, the walk then re-entered the shade and went steeply upwards into the forest itself. Significant tree felling is imminent in this area due to ash die-back and it was sad to see the number of trees which had been earmarked for felling. The forest in this area will soon be significantly thinner.

The walk then took various forest tracks and bridleways gradually downwards to West Dean.  Once there, there was time for a visit to the cemetery of West Dean Church to see the grave of a second world war fighter pilot who was killed in action just days before his 25th birthday.  The grave bore his squadron number and the poignant inscription “One of our pilots is safe”.  A search on the internet revealed that he had been a member of Douglas Bader’s squadron, and as such may well have also taken part in the Battle of Britain the previous year.  From West Dean, the walk concluded with an easy stroll along the Exceat forest cycle path before arriving back at a rather busy car-park. The walk was led by Phil.



Round the Coombe in Lewes – 18 January 2023

Well, you could say “that was a day that was”.  The morning started very cold and icy.  Ten members were waiting at the bus stop for a leisurely flat stroll from Offham to Hamsey.  No bus turned up and after enquiring with the bus company, we were told that it was going to be another hour.  So, a quick decision was made to walk around the Coombe by Malling Down.  What was going to be a flat leisurely stroll to Hamsey turned out to be quite a strenuous, hilly stroll.  Two members decided not to walk, one member couldn’t get into Lewes because of the icy conditions and two members were left stranded at another bus stop enroute.  For these two members the bus eventually turned up and they decided to do the stroll themselves.

In the end 8 members set forth on the stroll, by now the sun was appearing, and everybody was warming up.   The views of the surrounding countryside and distant hills were spectacular and you could view all the flooded fields.  All in all, what at first was a bit of a poser, turned out to be an extremely enjoyable walk led by Jean.  


Picture by Clare




                Climbing out of Lewes



Hollingbury and Stanmer Park – 8 January 2023

It is marked on the OS map as Hollingbury Castle but it is really an Iron Age hillfort with pottery found during excavations by E C Curwen in 1931, dating from 450 -250 BC. The enclosure also contains three Bronze Age bowl barrows and several post holes.  Having climbed up from Moulsecoomb train station, our party of thirteen walkers were glad of the rest afforded by a gentle walk around the ramparts, first passing a trig point at 178 meters and then stopping awhile whilst sheltered somewhat from the brisk wind to enjoy the views and the obligatory coffee break.  The middle of the “castle” is a whole lot less interesting than the description above, culled incidentally, from Wikipedia.  It is simply a lot of grass and bushes with a few bumpy bits, the barrows one guesses.  Of more interest was the information volunteered by one member that it was in this very place that she could be found courting when she was of an age when courting on top of a bleak and windy hilltop was entirely obligatory.  Having traversed the streets of Coldean, crossed the by-pass on a vertiginous footbridge we found our way to the always busy café in Stanmer village.  Various varieties of drinks and victuals were consumed al-fresco before we made our way through the park to catch the bus to Lewes.  The rain showers failed to materialise and everybody enjoyed the ramble led by Hilda and Graham



Sunrise Saunter – 21 December 2022

It is probably quite easy to find out what the chances are of having a clear sky at sunrise on the shortest day but that would hardly help as the whole idea of a Sunrise Saunter is that it is on the shortest day, come what may.  This was the sixth attempt and it was no more successful than previous years.  Glimpses of stars at just before seven gave the two of us some hope before boarding the bus for Ringmer but, if anything, the clouds got thicker thereafter.  A third hopeful joined the party at Malling and the three of us began our trek at Ringmer Green.  At Gote Lane we headed across the field towards the turbine.  After all the rain it was not surprising to find the going under foot decidedly squelchy.  At the far side of the field, whilst looking for the exit from the field,  we were met by a shadowy figure who proved to be an equally lost group member who had, having missed us off the bus, preceded us thus far.  The field beyond was equally wet but the messiest part of the proceedings was the climb up the hill where the turbine is to be found.  Cattle must have collected there because the ground was a mushy, muddy mess which made climbing very precarious.  At last, at the turbine, “normal” walking resumed.  Week Lane was not muddy, neither was the path to Saxon Cross, nor the track to the golf club car park, nor was Chapel Hill that we followed to the middle of Lewes and our breakfast stop at the Trading Post.  At Week Lane the sky was briefly red but as far as the sunrise was concerned, that was it.  Just after Saxon Cross it rained fiercely for a few minutes into our faces on a brisk westerly wind.  Apart from the mud and the rain it was an experience to be remembered when thinking about doing it again next year.  There has to be a clear sky sometimes.  Graham was the responsible leader.




         At the Turbine with the Old Mill Post


                 A Sort of Sunrise















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