Cuckmere Valley to Birling Gap.

Last Sunday saw us walking another stretch of the South Downs from the Cuckmere Valley to Birling Gap.

Cuckmere Valley is a civil parish in the Wealden District of East Sussex, England. As its name suggests, the parish consists of a number of small settlements in the lower reaches of the River Cuckmere.

Birling Gap is an idyllic coastal hamlet nestled between the Seven Sisters and Beachy Head. It is famous for its Coastguard Cottages and Cliff Falls.

It was a tough but exhilarating walk across four of the Seven Sisters, helped along with a flask of sweet tea and a Mars Bar in a sheltered spot.

South Downs Smugglers and Coastguards.

I walked a National Trust section of the South Downs this morning, from Went Hill to Brass Point.

Walking, my mind was full of mariners tales, coastguards, forgotten villages and smugglers- all fighting to survive in the rugged and wild conditions.

I will never tire of this landscape and its rich history!

A Smuggler’s Song.

If you wake at midnight, and hear a horse’s feet,
Don’t go drawing back the blind, or looking in the street;
Them that ask no questions isn’t told a lie.
Watch the wall, my darling, while the Gentlemen go by!

Five and twenty ponies,
Trotting through the dark —
Brandy for the Parson,
Baccy for the Clerk;
Laces for a lady, letters for a spy,
And watch the wall, my darling, 
While the Gentlemen go by!

Running round the woodlump if you chance to find
Little barrels, roped and tarred, all full of brandy-wine,
Don’t you shout to come and look, nor use ’em for your play.
Put the brishwood back again — and they’ll be gone next day!

If you see the stable-door setting open wide;
If you see a tired horse lying down inside;
If your mother mends a coat cut about and tore;
If the lining’s wet and warm — don’t you ask no more!

If you meet King George’s men, dressed in blue and red,
You be careful what you say, and mindful what is said.
If they call you “pretty maid,” and chuck you ‘neath the chin,
Don’t you tell where no one is, nor yet where no one’s been!

Knocks and footsteps round the house — whistles after dark —
You’ve no call for running out till the house-dogs bark.
Trusty’s here, and Pincher’s here, and see how dumb they lie —
They don’t fret to follow when the Gentlemen go by!

If you do as you’ve been told, ‘likely there’s a chance,
You’ll be given a dainty doll, all the way from France,
With a cap of Valenciennes, and a velvet hood —
A present from the Gentlemen, along o’ being good!

Five and twenty ponies,
Trotting through the dark —
Brandy for the Parson,
‘Baccy for the Clerk;
Them that asks no questions isn’t told a lie —
Watch the wall, my darling,
While the Gentlemen go by!

By Rudyard Kipling.

The Jackdaw.

Went for a winter walk up here:

Sussex Downs

And saw several of these little chaps:

Jackdaw

These cheeky little birds love humans and anything shiny. They pair for life and stalk around with a dignified bearing. They love human structures and a church steeple is an ideal spot to set up home:

‘A great frequenter of the church, Where bishop like, he finds a perch And dormitory too’

William Cowper (18th century poet).

They have their place in folklore too. A jackdaw on the roof meant a new arrival, or could mean an early death . Encounter one on the way to wedding and this was meant to bring good luck.

Sitting against a stone wall, with a flask of tea and a slice of homemade cake they entertained me on a sunny January morning.

Beachy Head Chaplaincy Team

Chaplaincy Headquarters

A shout out to these amazing guys.

‘…a valued search and rescue charity that seeks to save lives at Beachy Head, East Sussex.

We patrol on foot and by car and respond to emergency calls locating anyone at risk.

Using our skills in crisis intervention we offer supportive listening, to start a dialogue and to encourage more hopeful solutions than suicide.

We work alongside local services helping people to access support. All our chaplains are Christians and are members of local churches.’

https://bhct.org.uk/

Look to the Rainbow 🌈

Every colour of the rainbow visible.

Rainbow over Eastbourne Pier 23 December 2020

‘Look, look
Look to the rainbow.
Follow it over the hill
And the stream.
Look, look
Look to the rainbow.
Follow the fellow
Who follows a dream.’

Look to the Rainbow. Finian’s Rainbow (Musical fantasy , 1968)

Somewhere over there might be a better 2021 for us all.

The Salt Path by Raynor Winn

The Salt Path 

Raynor and Moth lost everything, including the roof over their heads- they decided to walk the South West Coast Path, from Somerset to Dorset, via Devon and Cornwall while they took stock. At the same time Moth is diagnosed with a terminal illness. With their possessions in backpacks they battled the elements, walking and living the Path. The Salt Path is about the resilience and resourcefulness of human nature. It is also a story of loss, courage, hope and love.

Yellow Jack.

Martello Tower, Seaford.

This was at the Martello Tower (small defensive forts that were built across the British Empire during the 19th century, from the time of the French Revolutionary Wars onwards) at Seaford, East Sussex. Interesting!

As a post script to this post an old naval friend contacted me with a bit more information:

“It was flown first in the West Indies when the place was full of yellow fever by the Royal Navy but now it’s flown for other contagious disease.”

Hastings, East Sussex.

View from East Hill

Today was a trip down the coast to Hastings. The town lies between two hills- East and West. It was attacked by the French during the Hundred Years War. The architecture is a fascinating mish-mash of styles ranging from Medieval to Victorian times.

The old town high street (George Street) is a diverse mix of antiquity and modern cosmopolitan. There are cute narrow twittens running off the Main Street up into the cliffs.

Enjoy a game of open air chess in the Old Town square.

Hastings has a thriving fishing community. It’s fleet is the largest in Europe that is launched from a beach as opposed to a quay or harbour.

A local character?

Bench on the East Cliffs.

Lastly Hastings was the birthplace of Grey Owl, a pioneer Of Canada conservation- said to have saved the Canadian beaver from extinction.

Newhaven to Dieppe Ferry.

‘Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore’

Andre Gide

Newhaven Harbour, East Sussex.

Even the humble shores of Newhaven in East Sussex. Newhaven ferry port overlooks the English Channel, one of the busiest shipping channels in the world. It is located on the south coast of England in the county of Sussex at the mouth of the river Ouse. It is the closest port to London with Ferry links to France, and is ideally placed between the seaside resorts of Brighton and Eastbourne with quick and easy access to the rest of the UK.

http://www.newhavenferryport.co.uk/

On my way to work I pass this ferry. The pull to hop on and cross the channel is always there!

The Long Man of Wilmington.

The Long Man of Wilmington

The Long Man of Wilmington situated on the South Downs in Sussex.

Formerly thought to originate in the Iron Age or even the neolithic period, a 2003 archaeological investigation has shown that the figure may have been cut in the Early Modern era – the 16th or 17th century AD. The Long Man is one of two extant human hill figures in East Sussex; the other is the Litlington White Horse, also in East Sussex.

Another autumn walk for us on a bright Sunday on the Sunshine Coast.