A Stile too Far..

I had rather a disturbed night – even after the heatseeking helicopter had left. As we had pitched the tent in a hurry in the dark – we hadn’t really noticed that not only was it on quite a slope, but also that it was placed carefully over a large depression in the ground- so spent most of the night heaving myself back up from the foot of the tent where I had slid off the sleeping mat, and the rest of the night pushing the snoring husband back up his side of the precipice.
Also had a very vivid dream in which I woke to find we had camped on a piece of waste ground opposite a row of terraced houses.
It was a relief to wake up and find that this was the view from our campsite.
Note slight downward angle – and deep rut running lengthwise. Also that green tent blends in more than blatant blue one from Lidl.
The sun was rising from the other direction –
-so it was time to set off and move on.

Phil staring with amazement at a hedge – not sure why.
Cotton reels on the way back down to civilisation.
We rejoined the South Downs Way, and walked along the river to Alfriston, which must be one of the prettiest villages in England.
Saw cows being herded in for milking – the country is a very noisy place.

Unfortunately Alfriston was still shut – apart from a newsagent – so with only a kitkat, two pieces of stale cake from home and a bottle of lemonade we set off for the heights of the Downs.

Phil struggling up first hill of the day – in the background you can just see the treeline where we camped.
A neatly shod, innocent little foot – unaware of the horrors to come. Note, also, the lilywhite ankle.
I haven’t got enough superlatives for this part of the day – it was warm, breezy, gently undulating, beautifully turfy, floriferous, interesting – just thinking about it makes me want to go back up there!
On one side was Newhaven and the sea, and on the opposite side the weald stretched out into the distance.There were even handy signposts to tell us where we were.
Along the ridge were series of tumuli – like a row of memorial benches. ‘In memory of Cunobelinus who loved this place 0009’
There was a very clear disc barrow – with a big depression which would have made a brilliant camping place – except, of course, that skeletal hands would have reached out during the night and dragged you into the bowels of the earth.

We watched a ferry leave from Newhaven.
Then stopped for a non existant dinner break – where Jake and I ate cake – and Phil was noble and didn’t. There were a LOT of flies.

Which close up – are quite cute, rubbing their little paws together.
Picture of man trying not to look like mad professor – but just looking like mad ageing biker instead.

On one of the hills to the North there were a lot of hang gliders taking off and swirling around getting close to the sun. On our hill we had a would be Icarus – but he didn’t get very high at all!
I was getting tired by now – and starting to hallucinate – the cow above looked just like a lion. We headed down hill accompanied by someone whining – ‘how far is it now? Are we there yet?’ It wouldn’t have been me of course.
A cow eroding a sign which asked us to keep to the footpath to stop erosion.
At last – the ground was flat. Once past the dangers of the weak bridge – we were foolhardy and all three of us ventured on at once -we headed full steam ahead for the nearest pub. Phil KNEW it was in Rodmell – indeed had cycled past it earlier this year – and it was marked on the map and all.

Route marched our way past the tiny village of Southease and approached Rodmell – with visions of pints of cold lager and a huge meal being the only thing that was keeping me going.
Alas – the Abergavenny Arms – although still taunting us with it’s pub sign – had closed in January. I was too depressed and distraught to take any photos – just collapsed into a melting heap onto the seat outside. There was nowhere else open – so starving and hot we had to walk another 4 miles into Lewes. Would have been a lovely walk if it hadn’t been so hot, and we hadn’t been walking for about six hours, and if, in the midst of the party, there hadn’t been a woman on the edge of insanity.

This swan was clearly saying to me -‘Jump in – it will be easier to swim’
This was a mirage of Lewes – see how far it was? It was around here that I went around a stile rather than over it – and twisted my ankle.

Then came the stile too far – the bottom step had been removed – and although I managed to get a foot onto the remaining step – there I stuck. I eventually managed to heave myself over with the help of a bit of pushing and shoving by my beloved husband.
We will not mention the desperation of the total re-organisation of the footpath into Lewes – how it had been re-routed around a rubbish dump – and then threw you out onto a very narrow lane which was busy with cars and trucks and lorries heading to dump smelly rubbish.
Eventually we reached Lewes and fell into the nearest pub – luckily Phil had the decency not to take a picture of me!

Phil caught the train back to Eastbourne (the hero) to get the car – and Jake and I had a lovely dinner in an Italian restaurant.

Up and Down

For a couple of years now – if not more – I have been entering every online competition I have been able to find – and today – I received my first prize! Yes, it is an ecologically disastrous fertiliser spreader-hose type thing. What happened to those spa weekends – the cruises – even the hampers of luxury products? Ah, well – never look a gift horse in the mouth – I will be able to use it once but I can promise you that I am not going to buy any refills at £3.50 a bottle.
After a lot of dithering and wondering where to go, and carefully checking the weather forecasts – we ended up deciding to go to the South Downs. We parked up in a side street in Eastbourne and set off up the hill.

It was a long pull up – and Phil told the first of his many LIES!!! “It is the only really steep hill today”
Here he is conquering the first trig point.
He found a bullet! In a rabbit hole! Well, a cartridge case anyway, which looked really old, and had obviously been there since at least Roman times until it had been dug up by the rabbit.
As we neared Beachy Head the path became more and more busy – here is a line of German language school youths. Not one of them speaking English despite their parents having spent many euro on sending them over to England. There were coachloads heading towards the coast line – unsure whether the coaches were full of ghouls wanting to watch people hurl themselves into oblivion – or whether it was the cheap package holiday version of going to Switzerland.

The authorities had helpfully pointed out where to jump. For those who know nothing about Beachy Head – just google!
Crass? Moi?
Leaving behind Beachy Head all was soon quiet and deserted again – with the undulations of the Seven Sisters heading away in front of us.
It was here that Phil told his Second LIE!!! “We don’t have to go right to the end of the line of cliffs – it is the dip after the lighthouse.”
Still, happy as pagan turkeys, we carried on.
The scenery was beautiful. I of course speak of the cliffs, and sea – not the badly tied parcel beneath.
Look how close the road is to the cliff edge – didn’t notice that until I looked at the photos – surprised that there isn’t a huge barrier there.
This was meant to be a picture graphically showing how windy it was – obviously the moment I posed the wind stopped. Just for the time it took me to put my hair back up and walk away from the tree.
This is a piece of art that someone had left on the path. If I had known that we weren’t going to get anything to eat until 8 0’clock I would have picked the bread up.

Belle Tout lighthouse was surrounded by workmen, scaffolding and tourists. We all got seperated in the hordes – Jake had headed down hill too early – Phil had strode manfully off along the cliff edge not noticing – and I was skipping around saying ‘look at the flowers -look at the sea – look at the workmen” before I noticed that I couldn’t see either Phil or Jake. Brief moment of panic as I thought Phil might have plunged to his doom, but managed to catch up with Jake and we saw Phil as we headed downhill to the car park – thinking that this was where we turned away from the coast.
When we caught up with Phil he was looking at the map – saying – “we need to go up here – we walk to Exceat and then it is just a mile or two.”

We dutifully went up – to come face to face with a notice saying “5 miles to Exceat”
After Phil had kicked my quivering sobbing self into action we set out onto the cliffs curving away into the distance. Up and down – and up and down – and up … get my drift?

Finally – we reached the end. Just starting to stagger a little bit. The cliff which Phil was referring to in his second LIE – the one after the first LIE about not having to climb any more hills – was actually the one in the far far distance – the one that could just about be seen with the Hubble telescope. As you can hear – it was still very windy.
Still, he said that it wasn’t far to the pub, and that we could either go by the road, which might be quite busy and dangerous, or by the path, which wasn’t much further. Do you sense the third LIE!!!
Mad professor.
On the way up (yes – steeply UP) the hill the field was covered with rabbits – there was a man with a dog walking through – and the rabbits were more or less regarding the dog with arrogance.
There was a fantastic view of the river looping it’s way to the sea from the top of the (very steep) field. Then it was into the woods – up and down some more!

Cute little country cottage – complete with balcony from which you could wave at the populace.
Golden fields – there were a few more of these – but by now I was too tired to hold the camera. You think my beloved looks tired – well, you should have seen me.
This was the pub which we almost literally fell into – the staff and food were lovely – the beer was rubbish.
After eating and drinking – we walked up the hillside and found a hedgerow in which to camp. It was Very Dark. We had just pitched the tents, and snuggled down inside – when we heard a helicopter – very loud and very low. It hovered over us for a while – and then turned away – and then came back. Evidently it’s heat seeking cameras were looking for one fugitive, not three, and it left.