Firle Country Estate.

Last weekend we took a walk on the Firle Country Estate near Lewes in East Sussex. Firle Place is a privately owned country house in Sussex that dates from the time of Henry VIII. Incorporating several villages and farms spread over rolling hills, the Firle Estate, is in the heart of the magnificent South Downs National Park.

https://firle.com/

The Estate incorporates the Old Coach Road, which dates from over 1000 years ago and is the original road running from the Beddingham to Newhaven Road at the Lay, just south of Beddingham Church, to Firle.

The Old Coach running through Firle.

It was a fabulous walk over sweeping downland. We are right in the cusp of the shooting season so there were pheasants and partridge a plenty. We finished the walk of with a pint of cider in Village pub.

A perfect autumn Sunday!

The Lord Lucan Experience.

Another walk from the ‘Cheeky Walks in Brighton & Sussex’ book by Tim Bick, David Bramwell and John Ashton. This one was in Newhaven, East Sussex and followed the last steps of Lord Lucan- a cad and a bounder who in 1974 reportedly killed the nanny, abandoned his car outside 26 Norman Road in Newhaven and then walked into the sea never to be seen again. There are lots of alternative theories as to his disappearance but this one is the one we are going with on this walk.

Besides the car abandoned road, we walked along the stretch of beach where he folded his clothes and left them in a neat pile before drowning himself; an industrial deep water working port;two disused railways; the eerie and deserted village of Tide Mills and up to the underground New Haven Fort.

Norman Road Newhaven where Lucan’s borrowed, bloodstained Ford Corsair was found abandoned.

It was a figure of eight walk that felt longer than it’s six miles, but covered the majority of Newhaven.

And Lord Lucan… is he dead or alive? Did he feign his own death or could he not live with the guilt; or the fear of boing caught? Retrace his final steps and form your own conclusion.

Windsor and Eton.

Return road trip today with a stop off in Windsor and Eton.

Windsor is a town on the River Thames in southeast England and home to Windsor Castle, a residence of the British Royal Family.

As well as the castle, we took a quick look in Windsor parish church of St John The Baptist with its beautiful depiction of The Last Supper by Franz de Cleyn.

Eton is a town on the opposite bank of the River Thames to Windsor, connected to it by Windsor Bridge. It’s famous for it’s public school, Eton College.

The college was founded in 1440 by Henry VI. It has been attended by, among others, Princes Harry and William, prime ministers David Cameron and Boris Johnson and actor Eddie Redmayne.

Short break over and back home to Sussex, but nice to move inland and see a bit more of the culture and countryside that makes up the beautiful country of England.

Bourton-on-the-Water.

Day two of our Cotswolds road trip took us to Bourton-on-the-Water, in the rural Cotswolds area of south central England. Straddling the River Windrush, it’s known for its low bridges and traditional stone houses.

We walked part of the Windrush path and visited the cute little model village of Bourton-on-the-Water.

You really feel like you are in the heart of England in Bourton-on-the-Water. It was a beautiful morning.

Cala Millor Sand Dunes.

Today I walked the Nature reserve between Sa Coma and Cala Millor – and found a different landscape of sand dunes- something I wasn’t expecting.

I thought the day was chilly, so changed shorts and T-shirt for trousers and sweatshirt. Found it was hot and went and changed. Half way along the route it went black and rained heavily!

The area was interesting. It is a breeding area for the loggerhead turtle, a protected species that lives in the Balearic Sea They come from different nesting areas in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. In recent years they have increased nesting on the Spanish coast. Climate change is causing a natural dispersion of sea
turtles that are leaving their usual nesting areas in search of other cooler ones.

The Dunes are in the process of being regenerated and there were lots of wild flowers.

The walk followed the coastline and passed through a farm. The walk showed a different Cala Millor to the beach, hotels and restaurants. I was uplifted following the tracks and listening to the bird song.

Climb Only Mountain (Cheeky Walks in Brighton & Sussex).

Saturday night was spent searching through The Cheeky Book again, which meant that Sunday morning saw us climbing Sussex’s very own mountain, Mount Caburn- old Iron Age territory – near Lewes in East Sussex.

Starting at Lewes Golf Club we crossed fields and valleys before the ascent up Caburn, where according to local legend a Giant by the name of Gil is said to have walked the slopes, hurling his hammer from the summit. Happily fellow walkers we met on the climb were a lot more sociable!

This was followed by the descent into Glynde village for a packed lunch and flask of tea stop. We then began the climb up and back towards Lewes.

The skylarks flew above in clear blue skies, the air was crisp and cold and all was good with the world on the seven mile round trip.

Groovin in the Ghost Village. (Cheeky Walks in Brighton & Sussex).

Another walk today from the Cheeky Walks in Brighton and Sussex book- this time across rolling downland around Woodingdean, ‘crossing the abandoned ghost village of Balsdean, evacuated and destroyed by Canadian artillery training practice during World War Two’.

Abandoned farm buildings, sheep and the Amex Stadium (home of Brighton and Hove Albion FC) made up the landscape. It was a grey November day, but a good trek across the chalk land all the same. According to the book you needed to walk it to the sound track of Brighton musical duo Grasscut’s album 1 inch/ 1/2 mile- apparently a ‘musical romp through the Sussex landscape’. Incidentally Grasscut also designed the route.

Isle of Wight. Hampshire.

We spent a windy Halloween on the Isle of Wight. We took the ferry from Portsmouth over to Fishbourne £60 return- a 40 minute choppy crossing across the Solent.

The Island is dog friendly and we started on Ryde Beach.

Ryde Beach looking across the Solent to Portsmouth.
Chaos and Mayhem

Back in the car to make our way across the Island to The Needles, the Isle of Wight’s famous landmark.

The Needles.

The Needles is a row of three stacks of chalk that rise about 30m out of the sea off the western extremity of the Isle of Wight in the English Channel.

Last stop of the day was the seaside resort of Shanklin for a late fish and chip lunch.

The island is easy to drive around and has beautiful coastal scenery and landscapes.

Sadly it was time for the return ferry. However there was lots more we want to do and see- so many more trips to this beautiful little gem of an island.

Matchmaking Festivals and Tidy Towns.

These were two events I was intrigued by when I was in Southern Ireland.

Starting with the Matchmaking Festival: Apparently if you want to find love, all you have to do is visit Ireland, in particular , Lisdoonvarna, a tiny, rural town in County Clare. Every fall, this little town is home to a huge matchmaking festival, where thousands of people flock to find “The One.” The festival mostly targets rural farmers who don’t have great access to singles bars or Tinder — but it’s been a local tradition for 150 years.

Then there is the Tidy Town competition: this national initiative was launched in 1958 by the Irish Tourist Board: Bord Fáilte (now Fáilte Ireland). It was originally part of ‘Tostal’, a nationwide festival celebrating all things Irish.

From the start, the primary focus of TidyTowns was to encourage communities to improve their local environment and make their area a better place to live, work and visit. The competition aspect was an important element in developing friendly rivalry that would help boost standards across the country. However, the emphasis was always on participating rather than winning as the very act of taking part brought benefits to the community- a focus on long-term results.

So this finishes my series of posts detailing my road trip across the West Coast and the Ring Of Kerry. The West of Ireland is all about the stunning, awe inspiring and breathtaking landscapes and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Apparently the East is all about the myths and legends, so that will be my next Irish trip.

https://www.newmarketholidays.co.uk/holidays/europe/ring-of-kerry-and-wonderful-western-ireland

Island Gardens of Garnish, Bantry Bay, Southwest Ireland.

The final, and one of my favourite, stops of our South Western Ireland trip was the beautiful Garnish Island- reached by a short ferry trip from the village of Glengarriff, overlooking the waters of Bantry Bay and set against the back drop of the Caha Mountains.

Garnish island extends to 37 acres and is renowned for its gardens which flourish in the mild humid micro climate of Glengarriff harbour assisted by a pine shelter belt.

Italian garden Garnish Island.

A damp visit that in no way took away the beauty of the island- I was entranced. On the way over we passed Seal Island. The ferryman drew in close, allowing us to say hello and take some photos.

It was an enchanting and enriching afternoon and a lovely conclusion to our road trip.

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https://www.newmarketholidays.co.uk/holidays/europe/irelands-beautiful-south-west