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Author Topic: Walking the South Downs Way - No Walk in the Park.  (Read 887 times)
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Posts: 93

« on: July 30, 2017, 12:51:02 pm »

As mentioned elsewhere the time had now come for me to undertake the 100-miles walk along the South Downs Way, leaving from Winchester and intending to arrive at Eastbourne 7 days later. Believe me, this was no walk in the park. I have traversed many multi-day walks, several in Scotland, and whilst not scaling the scenic heights of the Highlands, this walk should not be undertaken lightly.
Owing to the extortionate cost of the sole bag-carrying provider I had decided to pack light and carry my own gear. Won't be doing that again  Angry

Thursday 20th July 2017 found me driving to Sutton Scotney Services, on the A34, 6 miles north of Winchester. Accommodation prices in Winchester for a solo traveller are, to say the least, expensive. The services were the best option, leaving me to drive the last bit on Friday 21st July for an early start.

Friday 21st July 2017. Up at 4.45am and in the car at 5.15. Found a good parking space near the start of the walk and set off at 5.45am, only to have to declare a false start, as I had walked a quarter-of-a-mile before remembering I'd left my walking poles in the boot. Bugger. had to return for them and start again at 5.55. A dry day, to begin with. Pretty easy going and I found a welcome water stop at Holden Farm, not mentioned in any guide. I arrived at the Millbury's pub at 8.45!! Much too early  Angry. Kept going and made a 200-yard detour to the Shoe Inn at Exton as they opened their doors at 11am  Smiley. Left at 12 noon but got accosted by a local who kept me talking for 20 minutes. Loads of stiles and some steep ascents and descents during this first day. Slower after lunch too. Had only seen 3 cyclists and 2 dog walkers all day. Walked in to the Wetherdown Lodge at 4pm. A refreshing sight after an 18-mile first day. Rain set in just before 6pm and lasted all evening but no matter, nowhere to go anyway  Wink.

Saturday 22nd July 2017. Following a good nights sleep I was up at 5am and out walking by 6 o'clock. 17 miles today. The rain had ceased, but only for a time  Angry. Showers began about 8.30 and gradually turned to heavy rain. The downhill stretches on the wet chalk paths were unpredictable and dangerously slippery, slowing me down tremendously. Nowhere to stop for any break or refreshment today so had to plod along to my accommodation at Cocking, where I arrived at 4.10pm. The bunkhouse here was adequate for my needs but the rain continued until late into the evening.

Sunday 23rd July 2017. A lie-in this morning as only 12 miles to walk  Grin. Up at 7am. Time for a shower and breakfast before leaving at 9am. Took me half-an-hour to regain the SDW following a very steep climb. This was then replicated on the route, climbing for an eternity. The bright start gradually clouded over and I was forced to don wet-weather gear at the bench by the Gumber Bothy turnoff. Too early for my B+B at Bury so detoured to The Bridge Inn at Houghton for lunch  Wink. Arrived at guesthouse at 6.10.

Monday 24th July 2017. A great night's sleep but up at 5am again. 15 miles to walk today.  Ready to leave at 6 but noticed that it was now drizzling. Donned wet gear again and walked 20 minutes to rejoin the Way. Cloudy and intermittent showers today. Mostly easy-going with some steep downhill stretches. Decided against detour to Washington and continued on to the youth hostel at Truleigh Hill. As the name would suggest it is on a hill. The same hill is occupied by phone masts. It also rained heavily as I commenced my ascent  Sad. Very glad to arrive.

Tuesday 25th July 2017. Another 5am rise and a 6am start. 20 miles to do today but at least the weather looked set fair. Nice views out to the sea where the sun was actually shining  Cheesy. Met some interesting and some strange people today. Arrived at Pyecombe just after 9am and had a lengthy stop at the most convenient bench on the golf course, kindly donated by the Ladies Club Captain 'for those who appreciate the countryside as much as we do'. A fellow walker, a German man, was already resting here upon the arrival. Spent about an hour then pressed on the Ditchling Beacon where I took advantage of the ice-cream van so well located. From here it got very warm and I was pleased to have utilised the water taps along the route. Arrived at Southease at 5.20pm. Very tired but nice youth hostel.

Wednesday 26th July 2017. A short, thankfully, 7-mile walk to Alfriston today. Had a long lie-in to recover from yesterday. Started walking at 9.15am, just as the rain started. Awful day. Walking in cloud, wind and rain. Passed two phone masts, the tops of which were invisible. No stopping today. Just kept on into Alfriston, where the rain stopped. Arrived at 12.30. Soaked. Spent a pleasant afternoon in some pubs in the village, whilst drying out. Nice place.

Thursday 27th July 2017. The last day here already. About 11 miles to complete but included the Seven Sisters and Beachy Head. Another dry day  Smiley. Breakfast at 8 and walking by 9.20. Easy walking for the first few miles. Things changed on arrival at the Seven Sisters National Park. Several steep climbs and descents leading to the final climb at Beachy Head. A protracted descent then towards Eastbourne and the finish at the caf?/kiosk  Grin Grin Grin. Completed at 3.30pm.

The way-marking throughout the entire route is exemplary. Getting lost would only be possible should you not be paying attention or the mist or cloud descends. Can honestly say I never missed the way once  Smiley.
« Last Edit: July 30, 2017, 03:59:58 pm by Buggiba » Logged
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