Cherry 🍒 Sussex Summer.

Cherry-ripe, ripe, ripe, I cry,
Full and fair ones; come, and buy:
If so be you ask me where
They do grow? I answer, there
Where my Julia’s lips do smile;–
There’s the land, or cherry-isle;
Whose plantations fully show
All the year where cherries grow.

Robert Herrick (1591-1674) English poet.

I know that summer has truely arrived when the cherries are for sale on the Sussex roadside. Grown in the neighbouring county of Kent, you will not come across a finer cherry 🍒

Winchelsea, East Sussex.

Today’s walk involved a mini road trip down to Winchelsea in East Sussex, about twenty miles up the coast from my home town in Eastbourne.

The ancient town of Winchelsea, about one and a half miles inland from Winchelsea Beach was once a busy harbour-part of the Cinque-Port alliance. The old town was destroyed by floods in the 13th century, and today the sea has receded some distance from the town.

Parking by the recreation ground we followed an adjacent path to the seafront, taking in quirky homes and proper English countryside. The geese flew over, as did lots of small bi-planes- we were close to Lid airport- and the cuckoo sang loud and long:

What do you do?

In April, I open my bill
In May, I sing night and day
In June, I change my tune
In July, far off I fly
In August, away
I must…

Sang to me as a child in the 1970s by my mother.

Lewes Racecourse.

Lewes racecourse, South Downs.

A gorgeous sunny walk up on Lewes racecourse on the South Downs in East Sussex on the first warm day in May.

Lewes Racecourse shut its doors for the final time in 1964, bringing an end to more than 200 years of history. However it is still an active training centre today and pedestrians and cyclists need to be mindful of racing horses.

The ‘pop up’ Paddock Bar was an unexpected treat and a real pleasure. A bar in a horse box with straw bales for seats. A pint of Sussex cider in the sunshine on the South Downs was a very pleasant way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Hire a mountain bike from Blackcap Bikes: https://www.blackcapbikes.co.uk/

Blackcap Mountain Bike tours and bike hire.

Check out the National Trust walking trail in the Racecourse area; A secluded gem with sunken bostals, a hidden woodland, views over the Weald and fascinating history: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/blackcap/trails/a-walk-at-blackcap

Finally have a look at the The Old Racecourse Facebook page: https://m.facebook.com/theoldracecourse/ to keep up to date with the area.

The views were amazing and the warm weather and lambs made it feel like Spring had truly arrived. It is definitely a hidden gem and my new favourite place in East Sussex.

Hellingly, East Sussex.

This Sunday’s walk was part of the Wealdway walk around the Wealden village of Hellingly in East Sussex.

First point of interest was Horse Lunges Manor. This moated manor house, built in 1450 AD was the former home of Led Zeppelin manager Peter Grant. He is buried in nearby Hellingly cemetery.

Horse Lunges Manor.

Next up was Horsebridge flour milk, once a thriving, working mill, but now derelict.

This Grade Two Listed old flour mill was built circa 1900, but its history is sketchy, there was a fire between 1908 and 1910, when the mill was rebuilt as a large roller mill. McDougall’s (the flour company)had interests in it at some point.

We also passed a Bow Bells Milestone.

Bow Bells Milestone.

The milestone is one of a series stretching along the A22 and on the A26 giving the distance of miles to Bow Bells Church, in the City of London- erected by Turnpike Trusts that were formed in the 18th Century to improve roads.

It was a beautiful Wealden village walk in the spring sunshine. I had to include a picture of this abandoned outbuilding. It looked like it should be on a film set.

Prevailing Winds.

Loved these trees on our walk this morning. Guess which way the wind blows…!

In the UK the most common winds (known as the prevailing winds) are from the west or south-west. These winds arrive in Britain after crossing the Atlantic Ocean, from which they pick up moisture.

‘O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn’s being,
Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing…’

Ode to the West Wind, Percy Bysshe Shelley 1792- 1822.

Shoreham to Lancing

Continuing our south coastal journey, this time we walked from Shoreham to Lancing.

Shoreham-by-Sea is a coastal town and port in West Sussex, England. The town is bordered to its north by the South Downs, to its west by the Adur Valley and to its south the River Adur and Shoreham Beach on the English Channel.

There is a boardwalk which runs roughly from the end of the port and along Shoreham beach, then a footpath takes you down to Lancing. The beach is a nature reserve and we spotted lots of wildlife on the way, as well some fabulous houses lining the beach.

Lancing has a beautiful College- an independent boarding and day school. It looked magnificent in the distance.

Lancing College

Next stage of our coastal pathway will be Lancing down to Worthing, West Sussex.?

Newhaven Heights.

This weekend’s walk was the stretch of coastline between Peacehaven and Newhaven.

Newhaven is a working port town, as opposed to a seaside town like Eastbourne and Seaford, with a regular ferry passenger service to Dieppe in France. It’s West Beach, French owned, was closed in 2008 because of safety concerns about the crumbling sea-defence walls and harbour steps. but there is an ongoing local campaign and negotiations to reopen the beach.

The coastline was barren and exposed but beautiful. We passed the coastguard watch tower and the old fort, which dates from the Neolithic age, through the Bronze and Iron Age and was then occupied by the Romans. Today there are the remains of various Second World War buildings.

During the Second World War the port, along with a large stretch of the South Coast, was a German bombing target. To protect Newhaven Port, the nearby river Cuckmere acted as a night-time decoy. The valley would be lit up like the port during bombing raids in an attempt to draw bombers off course and minimise the barrage of the town.

It was a fabulous walk, steeped in history and a totally different landscape from the Eastbourne South Downs where we commenced our coastline walk.

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.

Pevensey Roman Fort and Castle

A Sunday morning walk around Pevensey Castle this morning. Pevensey in East Sussex played a role in some of the most important events in history from the Norman invasion and ‘the Anarchy’ to the Peasants Revolt and the Second World War.

A Roman fort it was built in the 290s, sacked by raiders in 471 and left abandoned for a century, then re-inhabited in the 6th century. The Normans built a castle in the Roman fort and over the next few centuries it was held by Royal favourites. It then again fell into ruin, but was used by soldiers in World War 2, when Sussex prepared for invasion.

Currently the Castle is closed due to the pandemic, but opens again late spring. Check out the English Heritage website for more information:

https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/pevensey-castle/

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.