The South Downs Way


Wednesday 19th September 1973

I got onto the path and carried on and found to my surprise that I had almost got to the section of the route which changes South suddenly. I went down the hill until I came to a V junction just under some pylons. Apparently I had already walked past the turning - I was using the Bartholomews 1/2 inch map which is absolutely no use for walking. I took the left hand turn, and eventually came slap-bang into a mucky farm, and I got mud on my boots and trousers. I then took a cut back West towards the other junction which eventually took me to the right hand turning, which was still wrong as I had already gone past my turning. I came into Falmer. I had no idea where I was, except that I was on the A27, so I asked someone who looked like a farmer (he was taking his dog 'Sandy' out) [10:00 am], and he told me where I was. I then set off up the A27 towards Lewes. At about 10:30 - 11:00, I had breakfast, same as last night, namely bread, cheese, ham and water in a lay-by.

Then I tootled on up the A27 and came to a S D Way milestone on the left hand side of the road. I couldn't see the other one on the right hand side of the road for a bit, but I eventually got it and headed uphill, under a railway tunnel, where some workmen were doing the railway line, past the Newmarket Inn. The hill was fairly steep, and very long (Castle Hill) and from there it was fairly level up to Ilford Hill and then on down to Mill Hill and Rodwell (???).

About a mile outside Rodmell, I met a man (55-60) who was wearing a light rucksack and had some largish binoculars. He was very friendly and we walked together until the left hand turn when he took his car down to the Abergavenny Arms. I very fortuitously turned down a lift to the inn - one up for me. I joined him in the pub and he bought me a pint of Red and he had 1/2 brown (9p.). He ordered soup and egg and bacon. He belonged to the Rambler's Club and had done the Downs about twice. He was in his car this time doing bits of it with binoculars etc. He had just done 100 miles of the Pennine Way (out of 250m) and seemed quite knowledgeable about the Downs and the Pennine Way.

Camp 6
Camp 6
I left about 1:55 and set off towards Southease. Apparently AJT arrived at A Arms a few minutes after I had left. Southease was a curious church with a round steeple (?). Then I had lunch by the level crossing. Two vans came up to the LC and the signalman / come ticket vendor opened it (he was quite young) after the train had been trough and he closed the gates again. Anyway, I went through 'his'little gate and found that there wasn't another small gate. He came out and said that I wasn't supposed to cross the line and was supposed to use the platform footbridge. I climbed the gate and headed for Ilford Hill, not too bad a climb, past the beacon and on towards Firle Beacon, which had a triangular zone and a plaque with a sign with a quote from Revelations. Bit boring. Fantastic views of the sea and sun striking the sea and coming down in ribbons through the clouds. Headed on towards Alfriston which I had to reach by 6:00 to meet AJT. The man I met at Rodmell said that there were only 3 pubs in A - the Star, the George and the Market Inn (Ye Olde Smuggler's Inne) Dog and Shepherd ????. I had one rest after Bo Peep Hill (by the Gliding Hangar) and no more. My feet were dropping off by now, and by the time I got into Alfriston, I had a pain in the back, the left thigh and generally the soles. Got to Alfriston at 5:15, bought S D Way Guide Book, wrote to M&D and Inky. AJT arrived before this at 5:30 and we bought chocolate and I wrote my cards while we waited for the market Inn to open. He had got to Patcham YH yesterday about 4:30, had had a good night and lots of food, and then left about 5 to 8 (or 9??) and headed for Ditchling Beacon, and so along the S D Way. All in all he made very good time, walking faster than I did doing about 20 miles compared to my 15 or 16 miles.

Both getting a bit stiff in Alf. Had 1/2 pint of Blackthorn Cider (they hadn't got snacks) so we tried the other two - they only did pork scratchings. Alfriston was a pretty posh place - very touristy, full of antique shops and postcards - a real tourist trap. We decided to go straight to Littlington and try the Y.H. I thought I'd try and get in as a temporary member which I did [57 pence] as this was a 'special' Hostel. Cooked our food which we bought at the Y.H. - soup (which we brought with us), beef curry from a tin, bit runny, and yoghurt, followed by coffee. Did washing up and went into Common Room, did diary, played Fox and Geese with Anthony, (won one, lost one) and then draughts (I won) - pretty close though - made lots of mistakes. People here seem OK. One American, one French, two Scots and rest English. Pretty upper-class type, one man (50-55) whom Anthony met in Patcham and had done same walk as AJT who was quite chatty and OK, but a bit lonely I think - talked a lot - a bit boring at times - done quite a bit of walking. AJT went to bed about 10:15. I knocked off at 10:30.

I didn't get to sleep for at least an hour - probably more, but I wasn't wearing my watch so I didn't know what time it was. I had that sort of restless feeling in my back, which made me want to do some physical jerks or something. Eventually dropped off.

Camp 5
Camp 5
Camp 6
Camp 6
Camp 7
Camp 7

Copyright © 2004 by Roger Harlow.
 
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