Thursday, 10 October 2013

The South Downs, with tea and panini, and a Morris Countryman

My recently-married niece and her husband are coming down to Sussex in two days' time. The plan (if the weather is OK) is to meet at Seaford station, take the bus to (say) Birling Gap, and then walk the Seven Sisters back to Seaford. The Seven Sisters are a series of steep chalk cliffs, where the South Downs meet the sea. This is what they look like from various angles:

You get the idea: up and down, up and down, for miles on end. Open, exposed grassland right up to the edge of a sheer cliff face, kept sheer by regular rocks falls. It's best not to go too close to the edge, because it's a very long way down!

To do all of the Sisters is quite a feat. I have no idea how fit my two visitors may be, but they are most certainly at least thirty years younger than me, and I am bound to get puffed sooner than they will. I may suggest we take the bus to Beachy Head, and just walk back to Belle Tout and then Birling Gap, catching the bus onward to Seaford from there. That'll be quite enough!

Today, by way of training for this walkathon, I decided to do a five and a half mile walk in another part of the South Downs. Last night's sunset had been pretty good:

That seemed to indicate a fine day to come. So it was. By 11.30am I was parked, booted, and stepping out on the South Downs Way, heading westwards towards Amberley:

It was chilly and rather windy. The hairband didn't really do its job:

But I made good progress. The Alt-Berg boots and the Wigwam socks were excellent:

After an hour I reached that part of Amberley near the river, that clusters around the station and Houghton Bridge, and had a nice little lunch (bacon and brie panini) at the Riverside Tea Rooms:

This consumed, I had a quick look at the River Arun...

...then it was south to North Stoke, a hamlet whose red public telephone box had lost its phone, but was now instead a little information kiosk, with maps and leaflets. What a good idea! Up the road was an increasingly rare sight - a Morris Countryman in good condition. This one must have been first registered before 1963 - no year letter - and was therefore at least fifty years old:

The AJ in the registration mark meant that this car had begun its career somewhere in North Yorkshire. There were two childrens' seats fitted in the back, so presumably Mum and toddlers were taking a stroll nearby, but there was no sign of them. I was now on a straightforward walk back to the car, using a series of constantly-rising paths that headed northeast.  The relentless upward slog made me feel somewhat weary. I was very glad when Fiona came into view! The walk had perhaps been a bit over-ambitious, but I had no blisters, no aches, and the weariness quickly evaporated. I must be less out of condition than I thought!

I met only a few people on my walk - most of them in the first half mile, including a group of three women who called me a 'silly girl' for not bringing any gloves to wear. I also encountered some men intently watching some hovering hawks with binoculars and cameras. I have no idea what the hawks were after. I should have asked. It could have been nesting chicks, but it was surely much too late in the year for that.

I hope you like the pictures of Sussex coast and countryside.

1 comment:

  1. I loved this post. Beautiful pictures (including the author :)).

    Here, in California, that car would have been referred to as a "Woody".


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