After a good night’s sleep, due to a combination of yesterday’s twenty miles walk and a few good pints of ale last night, I am treated to a wonderful fresh cooked breakfast. I rarely eat cooked breakfast but with twenty-four miles to walk today I feel the need to load up on calories.
During breakfast I have an interesting conversation with the couple at the adjoining table. The chap tells me he is over from New Zealand touring around the chalk downs where he worked forty years ago as a sheep shearer. Their next stop is near Salisbury so we chat about the locations he worked.
My day’s walking starts by leaving the Elsted Inn and turning left to head back along the road to take the road to Treyford and then onto the lane towards Buriton Farm. I have walked almost two miles before I reach the South Downs Way Trail (SDW) and turn left to start heading uphill to Philliswood Down.
As I follow the SDW through the trees I reach the memorial to Joseph Oestermann with the inscription “In Memoriam Hauptmann Joseph Oestermann Pilot 1915-1940”. The German pilot’s Junkers JU-88 was shot down on 13thAugust 1940, the first day of the Battle of Britain; his two crewmates bailed out and survived the crash. Apparently the RAF officer thought to have shot him down was himself shot down later on the same day but survived.
On our walks we have often come across memorials to wartime pilots, but I cannot recall previously seeing one for a German. I find it a poignant reminder that so many young lives were lost in conflict between countries who are now allied within Europe.
Very soon I reach the entrance to the Devil’s Jumps,a group of five Bronze Age burial mounds (barrows). The information board explains that the alignment of the barrows appears to be orientated to the setting of the sun on Midsummer Day. Lynnie and I visited here in April 2014 at the start of our caravan travels, on that day the visibility was so poor that we couldn’t see from one barrow to the next.
Returning to the path I am now walking a section of the SDW I have previously walked with Lynnie. I continue through the trees of the Monkton Estate before the fenced track runs between fields and I get the first views of the day.
It is very easy going heading along the track. I have settled into a comfortable walking pace, I am not in a hurry but without the dogs I tend to walk somewhere close to 3.5 miles per hour.
A bit further along I take a brief diversion from the SDW to bag my 102nd trig point at Linch Ball.
Back on the track I reach a huge chalk boulder. This is one of the thirteen chalk boulders, and the only one on the SDW, made by Andy Goldsworthy in 2002 that mark the five-mile Chalk Stone Trail.
Over the last couple of days I have learnt taking a short break every two hours means my back copes better with the weight of my rucksack. The only problem being a distinct shortage of benches on the SDW. After my breather I reach the A286 and cross heading towards Manor Farm.
I top up my water bottles at the tap at Manor Farm and then head uphill to Heyshott Down. In a field besides the path is a breed of sheep the like of which I have not previously encountered.
The path now runs besides woodland and on reaching a junction of paths I take a brief diversion to the trig point on Heyshott Down, number 103 successfully bagged.
Across this section of the downs there is an extensive network of footpaths joining or crossing the SDW, however, I appear to have the place to myself. When I set off I didn’t know how I would find spending days walking alone. At home the dogs and I often go out for a few hours and do not see a soul. But having consecutive days of solo walking is different. I wondered if I would get lonely, but it is difficult to be lonely in the ever-changing landscape and with nature for company I don’t need to hear a human voice.
Lynnie and I have also walked this section of the SDW over Graffham Down so as I trek on my thoughts turn to our extensive travels in 2014. It was an amazing experience to pack the contents of our home into a container, hand the keys of the house to letting agents and just head off with the caravan in tow.
Approaching Littleton Down I have covered around ten miles and have reached today’s halfway point so I find a fallen tree in the woods besides the path and stop for the tasty packed lunch prepared for me at the Elsted Inn.
Refreshed I continue down towards Littleton Farm with views in front of me of the masts at Glatting Beacon which is my next ascent.
After crossing the A285 at Littleton Farm it is a gradual uphill climb. At a crossing of paths I take a track on the left and then turn right before walking through the woods towards the masts to bag the trig point. Initially I think it is located within the fenced area so I ask a workman if I can enter. He has no idea what a trig is so asks his colleague who points to the trig standing outside the fenced area in trees close to the gate.
With my 104thtrig bagged I rejoin the footpath and turn right to follow the path to rejoin the SDW where I turn left and walk across access land to a car park where I take a breather on a conveniently placed bench before carrying on along a well defined track.
There are extensive views from up here and so far I have managed to keep dry. Storms are forecast for later but hopefully I will be sat in The Sportsman Inn at Amberley before they arrive.
I reach Toby’s Stone. This memorial stone has the inscription “TOBY 1888-1955, Here he lieswhere he longed to be, home is the sailorhome from the sea,and the hunterhome from the hill” apparently this stone commemorates a chap called Toby Wentworth-Fitzwilliam.
The path descends and then climbs gradually up Bury Hill; here I take a brief diversion to walk along the wide border of the field to bag my 105thtrig point.
Over the brow of the hill I descend to cross the busy A29 and then continue along a track that soon has cracking views towards Amberley.
The route takes me by the small camping and caravan site at Houghton Farm, which I make a note to check out when I get back home. Then I am walking besides the River Arun before crossing it and heading along the opposite bank towards Amberley Station.
The SDW route takes me up High Titten besides the disused chalk quarry, now the location of the Amberley Museum and Heritage Centre, before turning left down Mill lane to cross the B2139 to walk into the pretty village of Amberley. It is about half a mile from the centre of the village to my bed and breakfast for the night at the Sportsman Inn.
After a shower and cup of tea I am pleased to be sat in the bar enjoying a pint of Proper Job Ale. I chat to a couple of fellow SDW walkers; they have been walking in the opposite direction, from Eastbourne and covering ten miles a day. This is the end of their current trip; they plan to continue the walk from here to Winchester next year.
After a good plate of fish and chips and another couple of pints of Proper Job I am ready for my bed. I have walked twenty miles today and reached the half way point of my walk and after three days on the trail I am getting an appetite for this type of walking.
20th September 2018
© Two Dogs and an Awning (2018)