South Downs Way, May 1st-5th 2014
Assembling at the Congress Hotel in Eastbourne a group of seven members set out for Beachy Head on the first afternoon, admiring the views and the wild flowers as we ascended the cliffs: including a brand new memorial to the airmen of RAF Bomber Command. Reaching the site of the old Lloyds lookout we had a good view of the lighthouse before returning to the hotel for supper and even some dancing to the evening entertainment!
For our first full day we took a bus to Alfriston, walking down to the visitor centre at Exceat then Cuckmere Haven with the classic view of the Seven Sisters, climbing to follow the coastal path Eastwards via the café at Birling Gap back to the hotel. Bluebells, cowslips, and even pyramidal orchids were out in profusion. At one point we even passed a film crew with a scantily clad dancer making a trailer for a pop record. (A bit chilly in the breeze!)
Rather than risk two buses on the Saturday we drove to the pretty village of Rodmell, descending to the River Ouse via the lovely old church at Southease for a coffee break at the brand new South Downs youth hostel. Climbing back onto the Downs, we then followed the ridge way back to
Alfriston in time for tea and a shuttle home. Hang gliders were in evidence, but there was just too little breeze for them to take off properly.
The Sunday lap started from Ditchling Beacon, where we soon left the crowded car park for another ridge walk, stopping for lunch at Blackcap before descending to the A27 and a short stretch beside the railway line to Brighton. A further climb to the top of the Downs gave us fine views towards Lewes before we descended to Rodmell where we enjoyed the last of the scones at the curiously named ‘Abergavenny Arms’.
Our last day’s schedule originally called for a lengthy journey to Devil’s Dyke to cover the stretch to Ditchling Beacon but we opted for a more local alternative suggested by Daphne, to the East of Alfriston. This was a very scenic circular walk from Jevington through woodland carpeted with wild garlic to Wilmington where we admired the church, a 1600 year old yew tree, the ruins of the priory, and the famous ‘Old Man’ outlined in the chalk. Returning to Jevington for a lunch at the crowded pub we then departed in various directions for home.
Fortunately the weather was kind to us: a little chilly and breezy at the start, but really warm by the Monday. The hotel was comfortable (accommodating our wishes for
early porridge breakfasts!), very reasonably priced and arrangements went well, thanks to diligent planning and research by Julie, and help from the drivers: David,
Daphne, and Nigel. A very enjoyable weekend: pity more of us couldn't make it!
Note: A rather more detailed and illustrated account of each day has been posted on https://www.facebook.com/EastHertsRamblers.
|Prevailing wind westerly!||Beachy Head Lighthouse.||Group at Brass Point|
|Ascending the Down above Birling Gap||Southease Church||Coffee at YHA South Downs|
|Descent to Housedean Farm||Garlic Woods||The Old Man of Wilmington|