Tag Archives: chanctonbury ring

Picture Postcard Parade: Chanctonbury Ring, Sussex

28 Feb

As I am still struggling to come back down to earth after the weekend at Who Do You Think You Are? Live I thought it might be a good idea to remind myself of where my roots are and to provide a complete contrast to the city streets of London.

This card was published by Frederick Douglas Miller, you might just be able to make out his name embossed in the bottom-right corner, along with the words “The Sussex Series”. He produced some spectacular photographic views of Sussex, which usually command a high price. This particular card was sent from nearby Worthing, Sussex on the 28th May 1918, to an address in Streatham, London.

As the caption says, this is Chanctonbury Ring. I have mentioned Chanctonbury Ring before, I passed it whilst walking the South Downs Way (and sat in the shade of the trees and had something to eat). It is a superb vantage point as it is one of the highest points in Sussex, on a clear day the views are spectacular. When I was last here (in July 2010) the conditions weren’t perfect, but you get the idea.

According to Wikipedia Bertrand Russell once remarked that “any view that includes Chanctonbury Ring is a good view” and I would have to whole-heartedly agree with him. Chanctonbury Ring and that particular stretch of the South Downs has provided a back-drop to my life and I am sure to the lives of many of my ancestors.

It is such a prominent landmark, that it is visible for miles (on a clear day). In fact there is an old saying around these parts that if you can clearly see Chanctonbury Ring then it is a sign that rain is on the way, and if you can’t see it then it is already raining. We country folk like to keep our weather forecasting simple!

South Downs Way: Pyecombe to Washington

2 Jun

South Downs Way sign

I was up early today and on the bus at 7:30am heading for Pyecombe, East Sussex and the start of the next section of the South Downs Way. After quick stop at the service station to pick up some drinks, I was striding up the side of West Hill.

From West Hill the South Downs Way leads down to Saddlescombe, which is a small hamlet, more like a large farm, owned by the National Trust. There is a tea-shop which is unfortunately closed on a Wednesday. There is also another unusual feature, a donkey wheel (shown below), which is a treadmill that was used to draw water up from a well.

Saddlescombe Donkey Wheel

It didn’t really explore the farm, I wasn’t sure if it was really open or not, but I wanted to press on. From Saddlescombe the path leads up Summer Down along the southern side of Devil’s Dyke. Devil’s Dyke is a well known beauty spot, with a fascinating history, which has been attracting sightseers for years, mainly due to it’s proximity to nearby Brighton.

Devil's Dyke

Devil’s Dyke is a large dry valley (shown above), but the whole area has really adopted the name, as has the pub at the top of the northern side of the valley. A branch of the railway from Brighton used to bring visitors up the hill, where they could enjoy a variety of amusements, such as a cable car across the valley and a funicular railway that ran down the north slope of the hill.

From Devil’s Dyke the South Downs Way runs west across the top of a succession of hills, Fulking Hill, Perching Hill, Edburton Hill and finally to Truleigh Hill. Truleigh Hill has also had an interesting history, from World War Two Radar Station to Cold War Bunker. Today it is best known as home to four radio masts (shown below) which serve as a landmark for miles around, especially at night when the warning lights at the top of the masts are visible.

Truleigh Hill radio masts

From Truleigh Hill the path descends (mainly gently) down to the River Adur valley, near Upper Beeding. Across the other side of the river is the lovely little Saxon church at Botolphs (shown below), but I didn’t have time to visit the church (and I have visited it in the past).

St Botolphs Church

From near Botolphs the South Downs Way starts to head northwards, on the hills to the west of the town of Steyning, before turning westwards again heading towards the village Washington, with fantastic views across the weald to the north. Before reaching Washington the path passes Chanctonbury Ring (shown below), another famous Sussex landmark.

Chanctonbury Ring

Chanctonbury Ring has a long history, with traces of a Roman temple, an Iron Age hill fort and a ring of trees that were planted in 1760 by Charles Goring of nearby Wiston. I had been straining for my first sight of Chanctonbury Ring as I approached, not only because it would prove some much needed shelter for me to sit and have a break, but also because it is like an old friend to me, whether up close or for miles around.

It also helped that Chanctonbury Ring marked the final high point of the walk and from here it was literally all down hill, from the top of Chanctonbury Hill down into the valley, just south of the village of Washington and a bus home (by way of Horsham).

According to the official guide book, today’s walk was 13¾ miles, there were some quite challenging climbs in some quite hot weather (it wasn’t supposed to have been so warm), although there were a few small diversions, such as the start at Pyecombe which took the total up to nearer 15 miles.

Some of those diversions were for trig points (I couldn’t finish without a trig point), in all there were three trig points today, at Devil’s Dyke, Steyning Bowl and the one shown below on Chanctonbury Hill just west of Chanctonbury Ring.

Chanctonbury Hill trig point

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