The South Downs Way

Thursday 20th September 1973

Woke up at 8:00 and probably got up at 8:30. Breakfast of two sachets each of Alpen, two boiled eggs and slice of plain toast and coffee. Did my packing and then did my duty - sweeping the driveway which took about 15-20 minutes, whereas AJT had to do room 10, ours, which we shared with one Scot and one Frenchman - both of whom who snored. Set off about 10:05.

Crossed river and met up with S D Way. Some of the hostellers were going to Eastbourne - but some of them were going inland via Levington ????. We never saw any of them again. Just before Friston Forest, saw a white horse carved in hill [you can take a White Horse anywhere!]. Cuckmere River and Park very flat until you get to first of the Seven Sisters.

Exhausting climb up the first one, rested, took photos. Other six weren't as bad, some OK, but some still fairly exhausting, and boring as we were just going up / down and so on. Saw sarsen stone dedicating land to N.T. and also memorial stone to two Robertson brothers who died in 1st WW. Reached Birling Gap at 1:00. I had 2 pints Tavern and AJT had 1 pint Brown and had 2 rounds each of sandwiches (18p each).

Set off about 2:00. Climbs after that were OK - not very hilly, not even the first one. Reached Beachy Head by 3:30. Started raining, so both of us had gruesome cup of tea from urn [6 p.] in a plastic cup, in a horrible room with cartwheels, gaudy colours, pinball machine and 6d (???) car rides and one strawbail in the corner. Left as fast as possible, with plastic coats and set off on foot for Eastbourne. We had thought of bussing it, but I felt guilty about it, and rightly so, because we came across 2 SDW milestones on the way. AJT had thought we had finished the walk. Reached Eastbourne about 4:30 or so and so headed for the railway station. All along the sea front were parked cars with middle aged and elderly people looking bored, asleep and some were reading newspapers or knitting as it was raining - the British on holiday.

Camp 7
Camp 7

Caught the 5:03 to Victoria Station. Got there about 6:00, got to St. Pancras about 6:15, and caught the 6:20 to Radlett. The whole train journey had been in rain and just outside London near Chelsea Bridge (??????????) it was very dark, cloudy and rainy. Reached Radlett at 6:50 and decided to walk home and give everyone a surprise. Were quite wet when we arrived. Had supper with Oliver and Grandma, and Mum and Dad were out. Had jam session in CJH's room and AJT composed "South Downs Way Blues" which he rejected. Bed at about 11:30.

Thu 21st September

Up at 10:00. AJT had been up for an hour. Had bath and breakfast. Mum was doing Books on Wheels. AJT wanted to leave before lunch, so drove him to Watford at about 11:50. Watford at 12:25.


By Roger Harlow, co-starring Anthony Taylor

We did it because it was there.

Camp 5
Camp 5
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Camp 7

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South Downs Way
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Copyright © 2004 by Roger Harlow.
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