Tag Archives: south downs way

The Wandering Genealogist takes a break

30 Jun

I have decided to give myself a break from blogging for the next few months.

I am not sure if it will be a complete break or whether I will just excuse myself from my daily blogging schedule, either way I want to take a break from the “demands” of blogging for a while.

There are several other projects (other than family history) that I want to work on, but most of all I want a bit more spare time to do some walking.

Hopefully the weather is improving and I need to get some more miles under my belt if I am going to walk the South Downs Way again this year.

Then of course there is the upcoming London 2012 Olympics, which is going to mean a few long days when I am simply not going to have the time to blog.

All in all I want to take a break and not have to “worry” about blogging.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Sussex Day 2012: Part 10 – On “the Way” again

27 Jun

Sussex Day 2012

At the top of the hill I was back once again on the South Downs Way. It felt good to be back, if only for a short while.

I took a seat on a stile with my back to the wind so that I could have a quick look at my map and decide where I was heading. Actually I knew where I was heading, but just needed to confirm which path I was going to take, before I was off again, heading west.

It felt so good to be back on the South Downs Way, it wasn’t particularly busy, but there were still more people on this short section of path than I had seen since getting off the bus an hour and a half ago.

I wondered where these people were going, some heading east, some heading west. Where had they started this morning? How far were they going today?

Some were on foot, others on two wheels and the even occasional horse. Some on their own, others in small groups. All united on their individual journals along the South Downs Way.

On the South Downs Way again

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Longing to return to the hills again

25 May

I know the time has come once again. Sub-consciously I have begun taking guide books to the South Downs Way off my bookshelf and reading the odd snippet here and there.

Every morning on my bus journey to work I gaze increasingly longingly at the ridge of the South Downs. This morning it wasn’t there, hidden in mist that will no doubt burn off in an hour or two, but by then I will be miles away, with only the clock to gaze longingly at.

It looks increasingly like that my plans to take a week off work this year and walk the SDW are going to have to wait another year. Barring a huge win on the lottery or an unexpected redundancy it doesn’t look like I am going to have the time to do it this year.

This was going to be my challenge this year, but this has been pushed out by London 2012 Olympics and the challenge to remain interested in whatever sporting activity I am watching, despite the crowds and exorbitant prices.

Somehow I am going to have to find some time to walk the SDW this year, having walked it the last two years I want to try to keep the momentum going but it is looking increasingly difficult this year.

I have even contemplated walking it at night, I mean just how much sleep do I really need? Couldn’t I catch up on sleep during the week and spend Friday and Saturday nights on the hills. Probably not, but that is a sign of how desperate I am becoming.

I need to keep reminding myself that it isn’t even June yet and there are probably another five or six months of decent walking weather ahead of me and I only need eight or nine days out of those five or six months.

Looked at like that it doesn’t sound quite such a tall order, but I need to get out and start getting a few more longer walks under my belt, I have really done very little this year so far. I would have started this week, but it has been insanely hot this week, maybe next week will be better.

Keymer Post, South Downs Way (25th May 2010)

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Wordless Wednesday: Steyning, Bramber and Upper Beeding, West Sussex

8 Feb

Steyning, Bramber and Upper Beeding, West Sussex (2nd July 2011)

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Postcard Album: Dyke Hill and Poynings Church, Sussex

4 Feb

Below is another view of Devil’s Dyke, West Sussex looking south-west towards the north face of the hill, showing Poynings Church in the foreground with it’s solid square tower, but then the caption already told you that.

This postcard is unused, but the back reveals that it was No. 30 in The Brighton Palace Series XVIII, which means it was published by the Handwercks of Brighton, Sussex and probably dates from around 1912-13.

Apart from the farm buildings and haystacks in the foreground, the other interesting feature of this card is the steep grade railway on the side of the hill. That light coloured strip running half-way down the side of the hill marks the course of the railway.

It was a funicular railway transporting visitors up and down the side of the hill, supposedly to enable visitors to the Dyke to all visit the villages at the foot of the Downs, but as you can see it didn’t really go all the way, and I suspect it was of little practical value.

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Postcard Album: Saddlescombe and Devil’s Dyke, Sussex

27 Jan

I have moved a couple of miles south-west along the South Downs (compared to last week) for this postcard. There is no publisher named on this card and rather bizarrely it was not posted in Sussex, but in Cambridge on the 5th September 1927 and sent to an address in Coventry.

Here we are on West Hill looking west towards Devil’s Dyke. The clump of trees on top of the hill hides the whereabouts of the Dyke Hotel and by this time most, if not all, of the amusements on the hill-top had long since closed down.

For me the real interest in this picture is not the Dyke, but the hamlet of Saddlescombe and its National Trust owned farm nestling between the hills.

What I really like about this image are the giant haystacks, as big as some of the farm buildings among which they were built. The buildings may have preserved but I think you would be lucky to find a haystack these days, let alone enough people with the skill and expertise to build one.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Wandering: South Downs Way – Exton to Winchester

26 Sep

After a break of almost a month my wife and I were back walking the South Downs Way last Saturday. This was the last section taking us from the tiny village of Exton to the city of Winchester, both in Hampshire and although the distance was only twelve miles they did seem a world apart.

The highlight of Exton for me (apart from it being an ancestral village) was the River Meon (see below), a beautifully clear chalk stream and I could have stood for hours watching the trout feeding in the shallow waters. Winchester has its own river (the Itchen) which is quite pretty in its own right, but Winchester also has a motorway, crowds, shops, cafes, noise and everything we had been blissfully free of on our walk over the Downs.

The weather wasn’t perfect, visibility was pretty poor on our journey down and we wondered whether we would actually be able to see anything once we reached Exton. Fortunately the sun did come out as the weather forecasters predicted and started to burn of some of the mist and fog. Unfortunately it wasn’t long before the sky clouded over and we were left with slightly better visibility but by no means perfect.

The sun did reappear after lunch, but it was a little too late in the afternoon. I had hoped for a clear view of Winchester as we descended from the hills, but instead we were greeted by a rather dull and grey jumble of buildings, rather disappointing in the end.

Footbridge over the River Meon at Exton, Hampshire

We passed through many places with ancestral connections during the day, both whilst walking and whilst getting to the start. It is a beautiful part of the country and one which I have ever intention of visiting again and exploring further. Public transport is not brilliant among the small villages and hamlets, so some careful planning is need.

So that is it, the walk is over, we reached our destination but it did take an incredibly long time. It was actually only ten days, which works out at ten miles a day, but we didn’t have the luxury of lots of free time to complete it, so it was stretched out over many more months than we would have liked. Next year I will try to do it all in one go.

So here is the final set of facts and figures for the walk:

Starting point: Exton, Hampshire
Finishing point: City Mill, Winchester, Hampshire
Distance walked: 12.0 miles
Highest point: Beacon Hill (659 ft)
Places of note: Exton, Beacon Hill, Lomer, A272, Cheesefoot Head, Chilcomb, Winchester
Number of trig points spotted: One – Beacon Hill
Number of sandwiches eaten: Two halves (egg and cress, cheese and onion)
Number of times I said “my ancestors used to live here”: I lost count, but probably too many times!
Number of bus journeys taken: One (we had to get an early start so my wife drove us to the station)
Number of train journeys taken: Five
Number of ice creams eaten: None
Shorts or long trousers: Long trousers (although it did get quite warm once or twice)

The River Itchen and City Mill, Winchester, Hampshire

Copyright © 2011 John Gasson.
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