Weekend Wander: South Downs & Seven Sisters
It’s been more than a year since I wrote a proper Weekend Wander post, which goes to show that living in France and having near-guaranteed perfect weather makes it much easier and more enticing to get out and hike. That, and the fact we lived at the foot of the Alps. While we have done some hiking since moving back to UK, it’s just been a couple of hours in the South Downs here and there and not a full-on day hike, so this post is more of a summary of a couple of short walks we’ve done.
Firle Beacon loop
We first did this quick 6km walk in conjunction with a stay at The Ram Inn in Firle (Bloomsbury Room is gorgeous, food good, management seem to be having issues) and we’ve since parked up in the car park by the Beacon for a quick van night away. This loop starts at the village of Firle, takes you through muddy fields, past Charleston - the home of the Bloomsbury group - and up and along the SDW across Firle Beacon before descending back into Firle. The OS map with the route marked can be downloaded here.
The walk itself is fine for an afternoon stroll, and Firle is a nice village to get a drink in at the end. I think if we still lived in Brighton we’d probably do a few more sections of the South Downs Way, but I have to say, it’s not my favourite part of England. However, it’s perfect pre-pub Sunday dog walking territory.
Another spot we visited for a quick walk was Kingley Vale nature reserve, famous for its 2000 year old yew trees “which are among the oldest living things in Britain,” according to the tourist brochure. We wandered through the grove of gnarled yew trees and climbed up to Bow Hill, which has a series of Bronze age barrows at the top. You can find it on these maps: OS Landranger 197, Explorer OL8, 120.
This was a quick loop from the Seven Sisters Country Park car park to the beach and up along the cliffs. I was blown away seeing the chalk cliffs close up, and I think the winter sun showed them off at their best. The SDW hugs the coast line along this section and there’s been a few recent deaths, so people should be aware that the cliff edges are structurally unsound. I also slipped in the mud twice along these cliffs: proper heels-digging-in-the-mud slow motion slides that left me lying down (once prone, once supine), covered from head to foot in mud and completely sodden. Yes, twice.
So, apart from quick stomps around Devil’s Dyke after work, that was pretty much it for my 2018 Weekend Wanders around Brighton. We spent quite a few nights away camping in 2018 but not too many hiking. I’m sure this will be rectified now we’re in the West Country and close to Wales. Another resolution to put on my 2019 list.