Tag Archives: truleigh hill

Unplugged: More snow…

18 Dec

This month is shaping up to be the coldest December for 100 years (according the weatherman on the news this morning). Yesterday there was quite a heavy, but thankfully brief, snow shower about lunchtime, and today there was another heavy shower in the morning. There hasn’t been quite as much snow as there was a couple of weeks ago, only about an inch in total, but just enough to mess up our plans for the day.

Instead of a day out in London “enjoying” the festivities in the run-up to Christmas, we had to make do with a short walk in the snow. To be honest the landscape wasn’t looking quite as pretty as I hoped (the snow had started melting), but I did take a few photos to share with you.

Looking south to Truleigh Hill from north of Henfield, West Sussex

The River Adur north of Henfield, West Sussex

Henfield Cemetery looking towards St. Peter's Church

St. Peter's Church, Henfield, West Sussex

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

Sussex Day 2009: Part 9 – Hurstpierpoint Cemetery to Wolstonbury Hill

25 Jun

When I left Hurstpierpoint Cemetery I didn’t really where I was heading. I knew that I was ultimately going to end up at Hassocks railway station, so I could get home, but I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to get there.

The shortest and quickest route would have been to head east out of Hurstpierpoint on the main road, but I wanted to be out in the countryside, so I decided to follow a path just north of the cemetery. Besides it was still early afternoon, far too early to be heading home!

When the path got clear of the houses to the south the views opened up to the South Downs and there looming up in front of me was Wolstonbury Hill, just begging to be climbed.

The walk so far had been pretty flat, Hurstpierpoint Cemetery was really the last genealogical connection, so now it was time to put the family history to one side and to personally challenge myself with a climb up the hill.

It was a nice gentle route to the foot of the Downs, past the magnificent Danny House (currently a retirement home). All the time Wolstonbury Hill getting closer and seeming more and more unclimbable. I reached New Way Lane and approached the foot of the hill, there was no turning back now.

No turning back maybe, but no way forward either! The footpath was blocked, closed to allow repair work, for six months, how could the West Sussex County Council do this to me? Here I was ready to ascend Wolstonbury Hill and they had closed the path!

Of course there was more than one route up to the top, only the northern and western sides were closed, I continued east along the lane and found another path heading south, before long it started to climb and I knew I was on the right path. The path was well shaded, but not particularly smooth, not far up the hill I came to a junction of paths and I wasn’t entirely sure where I was, eastward seemed to take me out into the open and back downhill again, that was no good, so after consulting the map I pressed on south again up further.

A short distance further I came to a gateway that opened out onto the side of the hill, and I could see the path leading right to the top. This was it, after another application of suncream (and a mouthful of drink) I headed out into the blazing sun and launched myself up the hill.

That last section was one of the most exhilarating climbs of my life, the sun was hot, there was little breeze, my leg muscles were complaining, but I was all alone, not another soul in sight, enjoying the beautiful Sussex landscape that emerged once I had cleared the trees.

It felt fantastic to be pushing myself to climb this hill, I had never witnessed the views from the top before, but I am sure many of my ancestors had before me. It had been a struggle but the reward was well worth it. It was a clear day, a little bit hazy in the distance but that didn’t matter, and I could see for miles in all directions. I wandered around the earthworks at the top of the hill, visited the trig point and just savoured the moment. There was a slight breeze here, but little shelter apart from a few gorse bushes. I found some shade and sat down, quenching my thirst with more drink and applying more suncream.

I sat and admired the view, it was breathtaking. It didn’t matter that I didn’t know what half of the places were, what mattered was that it was Sussex, my Sussex, my ancestors Sussex. I could think of no better place to be on Sussex Day. The sense of achievement was tremendous, I felt physically and emotionally that I was on top of the world.

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