2 days on the south downs

Wednesday  15th
 
I have decided that as i came back from Wales early that i would go down to the south downs and walk from Eastbourne to Lewes.So i found myself in Eastbourne at 12h15 on a cloudy windswept day with my delightfully light OMM pack on my back.I headed down to the promenade and walked along the seafront.The place was pretty much deserted,so much for our Great British Summer.The waves were pounding in onto the beach.Its been along time since I’ve been to the coast and the sea air was quite invigorating.I picked up the south down way and climbed up to Beachy head where the full force of the wind hit me.the weather was sunny but there were pick old clouds boiling up over the high weald area of Sussex and they looked like they may bring rain,but so far so good.
The path from beachy head to birling gap follows the cliff tops and you get great views out to sea and along the coast.I dropped into birling gap and went down onto the beach.There were even a few crazy fools getting wet suits on to go surfing !
I decided that the wind was to much and i headed in land to East Dean and the pub.East Dean is a lovely little village with a great pub the Tiger Inn.sat outside on the green drinking Harvey’s and studying the map.
 From East Dean i strolled into Friston past the old saxon church and on into the forest[note that there is a water source in the grounds of the church].Friston forest is a beech forest and very peaceful.i set up camp and spent the evening enjoying the peace and quiet and just contemplating life in general.Had pasta bolognese for dinner and a red miso soup which was very good.
total distance walked – 15km in 6 hours
 
Thursday 16th
 
Quite a windy night last night and to start with i was worried about branches falling on me but eventually dropped off to sleep.Awoke at 06h15 and got he coffee and lazed under the tarp watching the trees lighten up in the morning light.I packed up and was on my way by 07h45.Its nice to have such a light pack out for 2 possible 3 days and the pack weighed around the 8 kg mark,i didn’t weight it but it was a joy to walk with it and will look into lowering my base weight.I dropped out of the forest on easy forest tracks to West Dean,yet another lovely village.the hedgerows are ripening up with their bounty,blackberries a whole 2 weeks early,sloes,plums elderberries are not far off being ready so i will have to get out with the collecting bags so i can make some jam,jellies, and gin.
It was not long before i was looking down on Cuckmere river and its meander.I’ve not been here since a kid of about 15 so about 23 years and not much has changed.though i did notice that where as  i remember listening to sky larks and lapwings they were no where to be seen.there were little egrets which have only just started coming to britian,normally a mediterranean bird.I walked down to the beach and the tide ws out so got good views down the coast.there was plenty of bird life around flocks of dunlin,sandpipers, cormerants,mute swans black head gulls and the odd heron.Also found sea kale and sea samphire both of which are edible as well as bladder wrack seaweed.On the subjesct of edible food i found common chamomile,marjoram[plenty],common mallow and both hazel and beech nuts.
i carried on following the river cuckmere to Alfristo,a old village used in the past as a smugglers haunt.stopped for a couple of halves in two different pubs and had lunch here.Ipicked up the south downs way again and headed up towards bostal hill and its tumali.the wind was still blowing and camping spots were hard to find as i was now into arable land.Camping up on the downs was out of the question as the wind was too strong and too many people around.I decided to head to lewes and home.I still had a way to go so dropped to the small delightful village of Alciston and its lovely pub the rose cottage inn.just made it in time for a swift half of Harvey’s.I cracked on as the clouds were threating rain and soon i was striding through feiods on my way to Firle.A brief stop in Firle for a ginger beer and i even missed out on a half in the ram inn.Just before i reached Glynde it started to rain so i popped into the trevor arm’s for another half and by the time i had finished the weather changed again.The last part was a short sharp climb over Caburn hill and its impressive hill fort.I dropped down the ridge and picked up the footpath into Lewes through lovely meadows of downland flowers,shame the sun as not out otherwise it would of been magical.The last descent into Lewes found me looking down on the Harvey,s brewery which put a extra spring into my tired feet.Before long i was sitting in the pub downing a pint of Harvey’s armada.
 
Total distance walked – 31.5 km
 
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