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.

Waiting for a ‘waning gibbous’ moon.

Waning Gibbous moon (Emily Dudley)

Between full and last quarter moon – late at night or in the early morning – you might catch the moon in its waning gibbous phase. A waning gibbous moon rises later at night than a full moon, somewhere between local sundown and midnight.

In Eastbourne the other night it was very close to midnight by the time she appeared, but worth the wait.

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.

Newhaven FC.

Followers of my blog will know that I’m a bit of a football fan. They will also know that I like local football grounds. Lockdown has meant that instead of international travel we’ve been rediscovering our local area over the past year. Today took us over to Newhaven in East Sussex- another stretch of the coastline that I’ll cover in another blog.

Today’s picnic stop was by Newhaven Football Club grounds.

Newhaven FC is one of the oldest clubs in Sussex, and was formed by the Towner family who were brewers in the town during the latter 19th century, plus some of their enthusiastic friends. A meeting took place at the Bridge Hotel in December 1887 when it decided to form the Club and 20 members signed up on the day.

About Newhaven Football Club

Newhaven FC. ‘The Dockers’

They play in the Southern CombinationPremier Division. Unfortunately, as with the majority of local clubs the 2019- 2020 season was abandoned. Hoping for better things for 2021- 2022.

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/

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/

When things don’t quite work out.

I am on annual leave these last two weeks of January 2021. Like a lot of other people during this pandemic, I should have been elsewhere in the world. So we had to re-think. Plan B was a road trip to take in a few of these:

Then a third lockdown has meant staying in our home town. So plan C came into force and we took a walk and did these:

Eastbourne Borough, Eastbourne Town and Eastbourne United.

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.

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.”