The South Downs Way


Tuesday 18th September 1973

Camp 5
Camp 5
By 6:30, it was so cold and damp that we got up and made a fire, and decided to wait until the cafe opened for some tea or coffee. We had breakfast of dry nimble and crumbly cheese. AJT decided at about 8:50 to burn his poly sheet, but it was so wet and thickly folded that by 9:30 it was still smouldering, so we broke it up into pieces and covered it with ash until it was only smoking. Then we hotfooted it, rather sleepily, to the cafe where we supplemented our breakfast with beans on toast and cups of coffee and tea. Left cafe at 10:30 for wash and talc over the road in the Gents.

After this, it was about 11:00 and we set off after I had bought bread and matches. It was quite a steep and long hill from Upper Beeching. Near the top we overtook two hikers from Sussex University. They had already overtaken AJT while I was washing. We rested at the top, carried on for a while and rested again as the route became quite hilly in this area, at Truleigh Hill by the barn, where we were overtaken. Then we carried on to Devil's Dyke Pub, where we met the two hikers again. Apparently, they had walked from Chanctonbury Ring today - about 10 miles, compared to our 5-6 miles. They started at Petersfield on Sunday afternoon, whereas we started on Friday. Last winter, a group from Sussex University had tried to do it in 2 1/2 days with somebody dropping tents off at their various stages. Only two people made it! It also snowed at the time. It takes all sorts. We reached the pub around 12:45 - I had 1 pint of Blackthorn Cider [same stuff I had in Cornwall with H and C] and AJT had 1/2 lime and lager and 1/2 cider (32 pence each time) followed by a ploughman's lunch [20p each] which was a large piece of flute bread, cheese, very nice pickle and a very small bit of cheese. We discussed splitting up for a day, as AJT wanted to get to Patcham Place in Brighton which is a Youth Hostel. I would walk to Ditchling Beacon and meet him some time on Tuesday [in Alfriston at 6 o'clock in the Dog and Shepherd]. Then we went and had coffee in the cafe in the pub.

Left about 3:00, but lost the route so we went through Saddlescombe. On the other side was an accident - 3 wheeler Reliant upside down - squashed and one mini on the kerb - seemed OK. Reliant seemed to have skidded upside down from one side of the road to the other. Eventually found a route - but not marked as S D Way - I think was ??? we split - A to Patcham, me towards Ditchling Beacon. I headed across hill, last farewell to AJT, and came to large road. Couldn't find the S D Way, only marked by a few milestone things. Went up A273, past golf club - too far. Took short cut up first track on right - only led to hut. Went through nettles into field. Could see a path and windmills (???????? - funny symbol here). Up path over hills. Met a few people. Ist?????? tumuli looked was very boggy - saw two others - looked pretty damp, walked across one - very soft. Reached Ditchling Beacon about 5:30, 2 hours after leaving Anthony (6 miles?). Quite cold North wind. Can see the sea and can still see Chanctonbury Ring. Beacon says it's 12 miles, Devil's Dyke is 5 miles (by pub) as crow flies I suppose. Small inscription at bottom right reads:

"This plaque was erected by the Brighton Corporation 1958 on the site of an early iron age earth work.

Littleden Down (??) 24 miles, Beacon is 813 feet up.

Carried on about 5:45 after a few photos. Carried on over road. At top of first hill was BBC Overseas Broadcasting van. Bloke inside was watching TV (set amongst lots of dials and switches etc.) He was watching ITV. Carried on until about 6:00-6:15 when it started raining. Came across 2 donkeys just as I was about to start off again. Photos. Very windy. I had my cape on - it was flapping around like a sick (???) sailing ship coming into harbour with sails flapping. N/NE wind, more North at first. Soon (i.e. about 7:00) I reached a wood, biggish on right side of the path - south side (???). Got is and made tent out of poly sheet. Quite cosy, but noisy 'cos sheet flaps. Supper of bread, cheese and ham. I am not making a fire as it's very wet, and I'm going to crash early. Long walk tomorrow. Bed at 8:05. Couldn't sleep well - I could see the trees above, through the polythene, very dark against the sky, crashing into each other. I seem to remember waking up each hour, and sometimes more often. I woke up about 7:30 to 8:00, and got up fairly soon. Wind was still up, but had changed into a more Easterly direction.

Camp 4
Camp 4
Camp 5
Camp 5
Camp 6
Camp 6

Copyright © 2004 by Roger Harlow.
 
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