2 October. With some trepidation – having studied the weather forecast all week long – the leader set off. Seven hale and hearty other club members joined her.
The train journeys were perfect – no delays – quick change at Lewes accomplished – and the Coaster bus came straight away.
We alighted at the ancient pond at Friston. Off we went through the churchyard of St Mary the Virgin, and the doors opened and beckoned us in. This is a charming and much loved ancient church, freshly cleaned and decorated for Harvest Fest. The flower-arranging talents of local parishioners were on display, so lovingly and beautifully done. One of the parishioners greeted us and explained a little of the church’s history: an 11th Century Grade 1 listed building, the earliest parts of Saxon origin. The stained glass in the East Window is a memorial window designed by a local artist and installed in 2002. It depicts The Ascension with Friston Pond below, the Cuckmere River, a white cliff, the English Channel/la Manche and a sailing ship.
And then off we went down Crowlink, a pleasant 20 mins walk to the cliffs. And then The Heavens opened. Undaunted, off we went embracing the wind, rain and whatever else Nature would throw at us with all the stoicism of the Dartmoor ponies. And other walkers were out too – and wearing shorts!
At one point the leader skidded on slippery chalk and went down. With the help of a member of the group, the leader was up again on both feet before any embarrassing photos could be taken.
We reached The Cuckmere Inn and had to abandon our reservations for two tables on the sun-drenched terrace. Instead a table was found for all of us. And then the puddles started to appear at our feet. Our sodden shoes and socks were placed near a radiator. But there is something about the exhilaration of the sea air spiralling around the South Downs that cannot dampen the spirits even when we were all afflicted with the sensation of the rising damp of clothing against chilled bodies. But the food and company were excellent.
The Heavens opened even more, and there was no chance of attempting Seaford Head. But we will be back – watch for the next programme. Patricia (Thanks to Claude, Mary-Jane and Sally for photos).