Thursday, 5 August 2010

The South Downs Way

I love walking on the South Downs Way. From where I live their eastern reaches are easy to get to by train. Here's an easy walk that I did on Tuesday in the late afternoon: take the train to Southease station, one stop from Lewes; cross the busy road by the newish wooden footbridge and climb Itford Hill (the only strenuous bit); continue along the path taking in the magnificent scene on both sides - to the south Newhaven and the Channel and to the north the Sussex Weald with extensive views to the North Downs; if you look back you see the Downs snaking enticingly westwards after the Ouse Valley.

You pass a pair of ugly radio masts after less than an hour and continue towards the highpoint of Firle Beacon, where you may wish to stop to take in the panorama before carrying on over Bostal Hill to the descent towards Alfriston. On this occasion I decided to take a chalk track leading northwards which curved round downhill and joined a path across cornfields to Berwick church. From Southease station this walk had taken around two and a half hours to cover around 7 miles.

My ultimate destination was the magnificent Cricketers Arms Pub in the village, which still serves beer direct from the barrel as it did when I first visited it in the 1970s - it's had the gastropub makeover since then but it hasn't been spoiled. After a couple of pints of Harvey's Best and a dressed crab salad I was ready to make the 20 minute walk to Berwick station to catch the 19.39 train back home - this was a Gatwick Express which was a pleasant surprise. I am always shocked at how few walkers I encounter on my countryside excursions (quite a few cyclists on Tuesday), so why not do this walk yourself?

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