DAY EIGHT Kingston near Lewes to Alfriston
A misty and dreary morning accompanied my trek back on to the SDW from Kingston near Lewes. The first hour of walking was hard and miserable. Even when I had ascended to the ridge the views did not raise my spirits.
However, just after dropping back into the valley and passing through Southease and crossing three transport ways – the River Ouse, the train line and the A26 I got talking to a local man.
He reminded me that it was good to see the Downs in all her moods and that mist and dampness was one of them. As I began the steep climb up Beddington Hill my walking settled into a rhythm and I began to enjoy the environment. One advantage of my early morning start and the low lying cloud was that no one else yet appeared to be up walking.
In the distance I could follow the line of the Ouse almost down to the harbour at Newhaven. The trig point at the top of the hill stood desolate and a wilderness tree bent over by the prevailing wind stood stark against the horizon.
The further I walked the mist lifted and the views became better. As the morning drew on more people appeared and on the approach to Firle Beacon I spied some paragliders………….. hanging apparently weightless like a kestrel on the currents. All of a sudden I was amongst dog owners, cyclists, horse riders and other walkers and I looked back rather longingly to my solitary start to the day.
The sun began to shine and I could see across to the Cuckmere Haven where I knew I would be beginning my ascent of the Seven Sisters the next day.
One aspect of this walk which was particularly noticeable was the agricultural farming. I crossed field after field of sheep or cattle. They seemed to be at one with the landscape in an ancient harmonic rhythm which had existed for ages prior to my birth.
Still with thoughts of the continuity of nature in my head I approached the aptly named Bo Peep hill and modern life again intruded. I heard the noise of motor vehicles. All became apparent when I saw a collection of Classic Cars.
They had been participating in a hill run and I was particularly drawn to a red Triumph Vitesse who had completed her run.
My first car was a Triumph Herald (with the twin headlight Vitesse bonnet) and I stopped for a while to admire it and remember the wooden dashboard.
Leaving my Triumph memories behind I was soon alone again.
If I looked behind me I could still see views of Newhaven and ahead of me the Cuckmere Haven drew closer.
Shortly after Bostal Hill I passed a man at a gate in a bright yellow coat and signature hat. He strode confidently past me with a greeting and a nod. I soon realised that I recognised him as Peter Owen Jones who had recently presented a TV programme on the South Downs Way.
The pretty village of Alfriston came into view down on my left and I was able to spend the afternoon with T exploring it.
The 14th Century St Peter’s Church with the Tye Green in front of it made a perfect English picture postcard scene and the old Clergy House and its beautiful gardens were well worth seeing.
We were able to spend time walking for a while along the river bank in the sunshine……………….
…… and trying to catch photographs of butterflies.
How very different the weather at the end of this day’s walk to the miserable, damp, solitary start. In retrospect this was probably the best day’s walking so far along the South Downs Way. A fairly comfortable 13 miles – maybe I am getting fitter. Once the mist cleared the views were, as always, stunning and the village of Alfriston was a comfortable place to spend the night.