Tag Archives: Walking

Sussex Day 2012: Part 1 – One of my favourite bus stops

18 Jun

Sussex Day 2012

I knew I had to take the opportunity presented by Sussex Day to get out onto the South Downs, but when I set off I hadn’t really decided where to go.

I was on the bus heading to Brighton, which narrowed down the range of options, but still with another bus and/or train ride I could pretty much be anywhere in Sussex. Not only that but if I got the right bus I could even be on top of the Downs with minimal effort, but what would be the fun in that.

The South Downs didn’t look terribly inviting it has to be said. The weather was overcast, it looked and felt like there could be rain any minute, even though the forecast said it would stay dry. I could see the odd break in the cloud, but even as we got nearer the Downs remained hazy and indistinct, not the crisp clearness that I had longed for.

As the bus headed towards Brighton I formulated a plan, I would get off before Brighton near the village of Poynings, by the roundabout, and make my way along the foot of the hills and then when the time was right I could ascend the hills and continue along the ridge.

This would not only give me a different view of the hills, getting up close to the northern face of the hills that I normally only see from a distance, but would also give me the opportunity to have a quick look around some of the villages that lay at the foot of the hills.

As I stepped off the packed bus at Poynings, leaving the shoppers to continue their journey to Brighton, I stood and admired the Downs. The bus stop is well within the boundaries of the South Downs National Park, and practically on the foot of the hills. It is the closeness to the hills that makes this one of my favourite bus stops.

One of my favourite bus stops

In the background of picture above is Newtimber Hill. To the left, albeit some way off, is my old favourite Wolstonbury Hill. To the right is Devil’s Dyke and the range of hills stretching all the way out to the west and Chanctonbury Hill with its distinctive crown of trees.

I will be the first to admit that the bus shelter may not be much to look at, but for me it represents an important gateway to the South Downs and the start of my Sussex Day walk.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Flying the flag for Sussex Day 2012

16 Jun

The Argus (Brighton’s local newspaper) was right when they said that Sussex Day had failed to capture the imagination.

It was also right about the lack of events taking place today to mark the occasion, but that is really nothing new. At the present rate it seems likely that the idea of Sussex Day will be all but forgotten in a couple of years time.

I marked Sussex Day in my usual way, by going for a walk. I had many options for where to walk, the weather wasn’t very promising and I am really out of practice for any long distance walking, but all in all it turned out to be a memorable walk, which I will tell you more about later.

Sussex Day wasn’t completely forgotten, it was good to see at least one village flying the flag for Sussex, although I suspect if they hadn’t already put up the flagpole for the Diamond Jubilee they wouldn’t have bothered.

Flying the Flag for Sussex Day 2012

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Wandering: Box Hill, Surrey

14 Jun

The recent extended Diamond Jubilee Bank Holiday weekend gave my friend Chris and I chance to get out for a walk, unfortunately the less than ideal weather conditions meant that it was only going to be a brief walk.

Short of time we decided to head to Box Hill near the town of Dorking, Surrey. Box Hill is just a short train ride from Horsham and situated on the North Downs. If we didn’t have time to get out onto the South Downs then the North Downs would have to do.

Box Hill is also going to be playing its part in the London Olympics. It is hosting part of the cycling road race (both the womens and mens races) and we were interested to see how preparations were going. The cyclists will be racing up and down Box Hill as part of the road race before heading back into London from whence they came.

They will no doubt appreciate the newly re-surfaced road, but the freshly erected signs will probably be no more than a blur as they whizz past, on the way from Dorking to the top of the hill.

Apart from the new road surface and signs there didn’t seem to be a great deal to indicate that the Olympics were coming. There has been a bit of clearance along the roadside, where spectators will be crowded, but apart from that you could be forgiven for not noticing the approaching furore.

Of course the cyclists will not have time to enjoy the view from the top of Box Hill over the town of Dorking, Surrey. A view made all the better for the presence of a trig point. Nor will they have to experience the steep and slightly treacherous descent down the side of the hill, which was nice and slippery after the recent rainfall. Unfortunately that all means they will miss the joy of having to pick their way across the River Mole on the concrete stepping-stones.

The closest railway station is Box Hill and Westhumble, Westhumble is the village to west of the railway line and Box Hill is east of the station. It is a delightful little station which although short on facilities has quite a reasonable service. It’s survival is probably down to its role as a gateway to the North Downs.

When we visited it was receiving the attention of railworkers, who were busy excavating the southern end of the station, presumably to enable extension of the platforms in anticipation of the increase in traffic that the Olympics will bring.

In a fitting tribute to forthcoming Olympic games the workers were taking part in a their own relay. Taking it in turns to push wheelbarrows full of stones and soil along the length of the platform the skip waiting outside the station.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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The Opportunistic Wanderer

28 May

For the second time in two days I have seized the opportunity and gone for a walk. Yesterday morning I took advantage of the fact that my wife had to work and got a lift to work with her and walked home, about four and a half miles.

This evening as I made my way home on the bus I could see the South Downs as clear as they had been for weeks, and instantly I knew I had to go and get a closer look.

So when I got home I swapped my work shoes for walking boots and headed out the door. I didn’t have time this evening to go far, so no need for a map or rucksack, only a mobile phone and digital camera.

My destination was Betley Bridge, which once took the railway over the River Adur between Partridge Green and Henfield, West Sussex. From just north of the bridge the southern horizon is dominated by the South Downs, from east to west.

I mentally named the hills one by one as I scanned the skyline from left to right and straining to see them disappearing to the west. I recalled the many hours spent walking along the ridge in the last two years and looked forward to the chance to walk them once again this year.

It felt so good, such freedom. I could quite easily have carried on walking, within a couple of hours I could have been up on the hills, but it would have been getting dark by then and I have to get up early tomorrow so I retraced my steps home.

It was probably only about three miles in all, so no great physical challenge, but standing in the warmth of the evening sunshine and admiring the Downs did a great deal for my sense of wellbeing.

WW2 gun emplacement north of Betley Bridge near Henfield, West Sussex

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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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)

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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