South Downs Way 1 – Eastbourne to Steyning

Once upon a time, or five or six years ago, if you prefer, I thought I would start up my own outdoor adventure company. It never happened in the end, largely due to the cost of insurance. However, if I had gone through with it I have to admit it would have been largely so I could go on long distance trails both in the UK and overseas without having to pay for it.

Oh, well. It was a nice idea.

The South Downs Way is a long distance footpath of one hundred miles in length, running from Eastbourne to Winchester, or Winchester to Eastbourne, if you must, along the top of the South Downs.

Hence the name.

We walked it in May.

It is usual, when writing about a journey – especially a long distance walk – to write in some detail about the scenery and the route, in sequential order. I don’t think I’ll do that this time. Instead I’ll probably jump about all over the place writing about odd things we found particularly interesting.Β  And post one or two photos of the stunning scenery…

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Such as this one.

So, a few points of interest.

This, then, is a dew pond:

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Chalk is a porous rock, allowing any rainfall to rapidly soak away, so the only way of providing water on the top of the downs is by artificial means. Dew ponds have been made up there for hundreds of years; a hollow is dug and lined with clay, which then fills naturally when the rain falls. Dew is probably not a significant contributor, despite the name. The downside to this simple system is should the pond dry out, then the clay, too, will dry out. When this happens, it will shrink and crack, and subsequent rainfall will leak out.

And while on the subject of rainfall, we didn’t have glorious weather all the way:

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We were forced to seek refuge in a convenient pub at the Devil’s Dyke for a couple of hours, but we made the best of it. This was clearly A Good Move because although it was still pouring with rain when we eventually left the pub, it began to clear up in about an hour and then we had sunshine for the rest of the day.

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These are cowslips. The word comes from the Old English cuslyppe, which means cow dung, because, yes, that’s where they like to grow, apparently. Years ago, before the coming of intensive farming practices and industrial weedkillers, our fields were full of cowslips, but they seem to be met with now primarily in the more open landscapes – like downland. For the first few days of our walk, especially, we saw lots of cowslips.

We had a rest day at Steyning, although we stayed at nearby Bramber.

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Bramber Castle is a strange and mysterious place, which magically energises the over sixties and causes them to revert to their childhood.

Although not for long, sadly.

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34 thoughts on “South Downs Way 1 – Eastbourne to Steyning

  1. To think that you walked in such a beautiful landscape is a great idea. I have seen many pictures of the beautiful English countryside. I guess it must be one of the reasons for being away for quite some time! Welcome back, Mick!

    Is that you in the last picture?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Arv. that was one reason, although only a small one. The other reasons were somewhat more tiresome, unfortunately. But, back now, and looking forward to catching up. And the last picture? Yes, that’s me…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. In the 1970’s, I walked the North Downs Way and learned, quite to my amazement, what “right of way” really means. The way cut through wheat fields and threaded itself through people’s yards. I feared that someone would greet me with a shotgun one day.

    The walk was wonderful, until the weather….. but there is always “weather”.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There is always weather, Greg. the North Downs Way is lovely, and back in the 1970’s I lived very close to part of it. But I like the South Downs Way better, as it has longer stretches of countryside uninterrupted by towns.
      And we are very proud of our Rights of Way. The early twentieth century saw many bitter struggles to get the right to access some of our most beautiful countryside, most of which was owned by extremely rich people who saw no reason to allow the common person onto what they saw as ‘their’ land. Almost a hundred years later, we have wonderful rights of access that few other countries have.

      Liked by 1 person

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