Dear Morley Ramblers,
This is your second virtual walk. The Hassocks circular, specially designed for maximum aerobic effect, about 11 miles weighted towards the morning. Sadly, the recce ( 28 March) was virtual too, instead Jack and I .. you guessed.. stayed at home.
For this virtual walk to be enjoyed to best effect find a sheltered seat outdoors, maybe with a glass of wine ( the café and the pub is bound to be closed)… I will begin.
So first we board an empty train, either starting from Blackfriars Station for most modestly priced tickets or from Clapham Junction.. we will rendezvous at the empty station at Hassocks… and … ignoring an attractive but closed café on the left, make our way to the main road, cross the empty road, and go down the ginnel which takes us into the local recreation ground, past the Cricket Pitch and then up a springy steep slope to the Jack and Jill Windmills. Let’s stop briefly to look at them…
Sorry, you cannot see them from here.. as far as I was allowed to travel within the Gove- allotted 1hour slot.. but for more information see en.wikipedia.org Clayton Windmills.
….. and grab a glass of water or some of that wine you poured earlier . The Windmill called Jill has been restored and still functions, Jack the windmill stopped working in 1908, there is a lovely image of it on the Wikipedia site. Apparently they actually were the source of the song ‘Jack and Jill went up the Hill to fetch a pail of water… . On this recce its fair to bet that Jack was cursing Sue all the way up the hill due to the gradient and they both went tumbling after… down to the bottom and .. you know the rest..
But there will be no lingering.. we carry on up till we join the South Downs way at the top of the ridge and make our way towards Ditchling Beacon, the ‘site of an iron age hill fort and the highest point of the South Downs ( 248m) not even a Munro but cited by the writer Richard Jeffries as ‘‘the nearest and most accessible of the Southern Alps from London’’*..
You will not be surprised to learn that I will be keeping my eye out for the ice cream van that occasionally haunts the spot at the Beacon top, at the best of times it is like a mirage, sometimes there sometimes not. It is run by a very friendly ex City Trader. He told me once how much happier he has been in this new role than he was in the City – everyone is delighted to see him. On this trip though he not visible, instead we have to encounter a pair of policemen who ask us if our walk is truly essential.
But it is and the views bound to be spectacular and we will probably see the sea….. we are going to make out way downwards through the woods at Westmeston for the imaginary Lunch at the Ditchling café either the Green Welly, the Nutmeg tree or the Bull.. We have yet to recce them but it will probably be the Green Welly, most sympatico to walkers.
For those of you who do not want to continue with this non- walk you can linger in the afternoon at the Ditchling Museum https://www.ditchlingmuseumartcraft.org.uk/ which some of you have probably visited already… and here might be a photo of where you have just not walked to get here.
For those who do want to continue, there is a return climb to be recced but more likely we will walk up and across to Clayton village, recorded in the Doomsday Book and have a quick look at the wall paintings in the Church of St. John the Baptist before returning to Hassocks Station.
In the meantime, I keep practicing!!! Up the hill ( steps) and down again. I so look forward to seeing you in real time.
With thanks to Kev Reynolds’ Walks in the South Downs National Park for the background info and part of this walk*.