I should have been prepared, I have been here before and due to the glass or two of wine and maybe my desire to get up onto the Downs, I replied to swiftly with " That will be nice"
From then, that very point I was domed ! Having not been on the ground for a while due to a few niggling health issues, my body and more to the point, my legs were about to regret this "Little walk".
|The Explorer's Vehicle .|
Not being one ever to decline any form of challenge and with a daysack, map and and some gentle banter, we set of down a bridle path towards Alfriston. As we descended the old chalk drovers road, my mind drifted back to the days of a 14 yr old lad, for I once use to move cattle from high above the long man on Windover Hill down this very track to drive them over the valley to Kingsride. This was fraught with danger as the cattle moved fast and without do care or concern to young boys as the farmer rode behind them bibbing the horn of the Land Rover and laughing as we scurried along dodging the waste product of the enormous quantities of wild garlic that seemed to leave the cattle as fast as it was taken in !!
Dropping down and joining the road that leads over the River Cuckmere, we pushed on and up milton Street on the outskirts of Alfriston, the sun was out and the skies were a brilliant blue but I still had a long distance hanging over my mind. Turning left we picked up a restricted by-way and broke out into open downland facing towards the little hamlet of Berwick. The views back towards the long man and Windover hill are stunning and you get a real sense of openness. The hamlet of Berwick is small, with a lovely Downland church and a fab inn The Cricketers Arms, was worth a pint, but I was directed on and we headed west along the foot hills of the Downs that were looming high into the sky to our left. As we proceeded along the paths our next stop was the Hamlet of Alciston now please note: Alciston and not Alfriston. Some pronounce them as AL-cistion and ALL-friston and there is a great account in Arthur Becket's wonderful book on the downs "The Spirit of the Downs" of a time he asked a labourer if he knew of a man called Mr Pocock from alciston and was told "he had never heard of such a place so couldn't know the man in question" ... it turned out the man was said Mr pocock but he pronounced his name palk from alston strange folk and dialogue back in them days.
|Berwick to Alfriston|
|The View towards Long Man and Windover Hill|
It was at this point that the lady spotted a local produce stall in the village and decided to purchase a few kilos of fine potatoes and half a dozen fresh eggs, they were then placed into my day sack... what ??? "Have you seen that hill we are about to climb??" .... "Don't break the eggs" was all I was told Climbing up from the village of Firle onto the top at Firle beacon is no small feet ! In fact it's around 712ft and then another seven miles back to the land rover and all with 5kg of spuds and enough eggs to make a mess ! Once on top you truly get the impression that you are on top of the world, stunning views both north over the high weald and into the distance Ashdown Forest and south out to sea .
|View North from Firle Beacon with Gamekeepers tower|
|A place for all on top of the world|
|Cycling the South Downs Way|