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Wandering: South Downs Way – Exceat to Southease

21 May

When my wife and I left home it looked like it was going to be a nice day, but the weather soon turned misty and before we had reached the south coast the sun had disappeared and we were beginning to wonder whether we would actually be able see anything as we walked along the South Downs.

For the first couple of hours it was somewhat disappointing, with very limited views. The photo below is of one of my favourite views, Cuckmere Haven, but as you can see the mist is creeping in from the sea. Compare this to the crystal clear view I had just over a year ago when I walked the same stretch of the South Downs Way.

Cuckmere Haven, East Sussex

Fortunately the cloud did begin to break up around lunchtime and by the time we left Alfriston it was starting to warm up. There was a slight breeze which helped to keep us still cooler. The mist didn’t clear completely, but the views to the north across the Weald were quite good and eventually the views to the coastal town of Newhaven also improved.

Instead of going into a blow-by-blow account of the walk I am going to give you some facts and figures for today’s walk:

Starting point: Seven Sisters Country Park, Exceat, East Sussex
Finishing point: Southease railway station, Southease, East Sussex
Distance walked: 10.1 miles
Highest point: Firle Beacon (713 ft)
Places of note: Exceat, West Dean, Friston Forest, Litlington, Alfriston, Bostal Hill, Firle Beacon, Beddingham Hill, Itford Hill and Southease
Number of trig points spotted: Two – Firle Beacon and White Lion Pond
Number of sandwiches eaten: One (egg and cress)
Time spent waiting for sandwich: Too long
Number of bus journeys taken: Three
Number of train journeys taken: One
Number of ice creams eaten: Zero
Shorts or long trousers: Long trousers (a bit too breezy)

Copyright © 2011 John Gasson.
Creative Commons Licence This work is licensed under a Creative Commons
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License
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South Downs Way: Exceat to Southease

6 May

South Downs Way sign

Yesterday I walked another section of the South Downs Way (SDW). I have no walk planned for the coming weekend and the weather looks to be getting worse, so I thought I would seize the opportunity and get another section of the SDW under my belt.

This section of the SDW began at Exceat between Seaford and Eastbourne in East Sussex. There is a visitor’s centre at Exceat, with a shop selling souvenirs (including postcards!), a restaurant/tea shop, cycle hire and toilets. The SDW heads north from the centre, with a steep but short climb up to the edge of Friston Forest. The views looking south towards Cuckmere Haven (see below) are well worth the effort.

Cuckmere Haven from Exceat

About three miles north of Exceat is the village of Alfriston. It has been quite a while since I last visited Alfriston (probably due to the infrequent bus services), and as I was only passing through I didn’t spend long there yesterday, just long enough to get a couple of bottles of water and explore the independent bookshop Much Ado Books.

Much Ado Books It is a wonderful bookshop selling both old and new books, that had a nice selection of Sussex books on it’s shelves, including a copy of Thomas Geering’s Our Sussex Parish, it always pleases me to find a copy of that “out in the wild”. It was a shame that I didn’t have long to browse, but I did come away with a copy of Walking the Triangulation Points of Sussex by David Bathurst.

From Alfriston the SDW heads west and then north-west up to Bostal Hill, another steep climb. Sadly by this time the weather had become decidedly overcast, the sunshine had vanished behind a thick blanket cloud and there was a cold wind blowing across the hills.

I wasn’t alone on the hills, apart from a few other walkers and paragliders (jumping off the top of the hill), it was good to see flocks of sheep on the hills. Aside from the cuteness of the lambs, it was so re-assuring to see sheep on the Downs where they should be, and have been for decades, if not centuries.

What ewe looking at?

Continuing west across the top of the Downs took me across Firle Beacon, Beddingham Hill and Itford Hill, taking in two trigs points on the way. From Itford Hill the SDW descended into the river valley (River Ouse), but crossing the river will have to wait until next time, because at the foot of the hill was Southease railway station which was the end of my walk and the start of my journey home.

Lewes from Itford Hill

The view above was taken from Itford Hill and is of the town of Lewes under cloudy skies, with the River Ouse and the Lewes to Seaford railway line in the foreground. It is such a shame that it turned into such an overcast day, compared to the view at the top of this post.

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