Falmer to Lewes
26 June. This was a new walk for Morley Ramblers and as the South Downs can be inhospitable if the weather is wet or too hot, members were clearly watching the forecast eagerly as there was a last minute rush to book. The weather turned out to be perfect for walking: the marvelous views were clear and the hills were alive with abundant chalk downland flowers at their colourful best.
True to form the leader took the wrong path from the station- which turned out to be A Good Thing as it afforded a pleasant view into Sussex University campus, reviving happy memories for some of the group.
No one was aware of the mistake and we proceeded through the Stanmer Estate (landscaped by Repton) to the eighteenth century model village of Stanmer at the foot of the dip slope. As the morning walk is long, and the picnic lunch late, we stopped for a substantial coffee and cake break –a late breakfast for some – at the excellent village café with shady seating under the chestnut trees.
The ascent to the ridge is long, gentle and slow passing by and through woodland which provided some welcome shade. There were few other walkers on the way up and only the occasional cyclist. The footpaths are well maintained – Brighton and Hove Council has taken advantage of the lockdown to improve the signs. After a consistent and leisurely climb through rolling down land fields with wide views we reached the top and were rewarded with spectacular views as far as the Weald to the North and Brighton and the Channel wind farms to the South. A herd of fat cows was inconveniently blocking the walkers’ gate out of the field so we clambered over another gate and took the ridge top path to Black Cap and on to the trig point at Coronation Wood. The wood was planted in 1953, it is now mature and an ideal spot to have a picnic lunch.
The afternoon walk is flat and imperceptibly downhill, passing by a horse farm and a dew pond – which due to the rain was surprisingly full for the time of year.
On reaching the outskirts of Lewes we hugged the prison walls, following narrow footpaths, to reach the top of the High Street with its mix of the very old and the modern; half-timbered houses and inns cheek by jowl with sensitive twenty- first century new infill. After half a mile we swung down the steeply cobbled Ann of Cleves steps to reach the lovely Southover Grange Park, a three minute walk from Lewes station. Briefly the home of the diarist John Evelyn this delightful park with its glorious planting in full bloom also boasts the Sussex Guild shop – stuffed with exquisite craft work it added considerably to the price of the welcome cup of tea and ice cream that concluded the walk.
Thanks to Christine M for photo. Sue H.