My regular guest, Clive has flown south for winter and this blog features his sojourn to the heart of Sussex (with an answer to a Cumbrian puzzle at the end).
Published 5 March 2017
We returned from Cumbria last September and although life in Sussex has been different, we have not been idle. I have been cycling, swimming and most Fridays I have played golf with my friend Pete. I have also made a number of shorter but enjoyable winter walks, some of which I thought would be of interest, to show that the countryside outside Lakeland, can be pretty spectacular too!
19 October; Devil’s Dyke on the South Downs
This was a favourite viewpoint when our children were younger but it has been some years since I walked in that area. This was an after lunch stroll just before the clocks changed and robbed us of much of each afternoon’s light.
The dyke was carved out of the chalk down by water and like many of the higher parts of the downs was used as a settlement and fort in the Iron Age.
The top of the Dyke has great views; to the south Brighton and the channel, to the north you look across Mid-Sussex where we (sometimes) live towards the Weald. To the west you can see the Downs winding their way towards Chichester and the coast running along to the Isle of Wight.
This view is looking down the dyke.
10 January; Barcombe Mills, Isfield and Barcombe Cross
Sussex is not blessed with major rivers but we do have the river Ouse near us which drains from the Weald down to the sea at Newhaven. It is no longer navigable above Lewes except by canoe but in the 19th Century it was a useful trade route with small barges being towed or punted along. Most of the 11 million bricks for the Ouse Valley Viaduct on the London to Brighton railway line were delivered to the site in such barges.
Today the area around Barcombe is quiet farmland but its industrial history is there for those that look. There are many signs of the now closed Uckfield to Lewes railway line and a number of intact World War II “Pillbox” gun emplacements reminding us that the river valley was a second line of defence should the Germans ever invade.
There are also many signs of the river navigation. The locks have all been removed but there are still weirs and sluice gates to keep the river under control. The following picture is of a weir at Barcombe; man-made but still beautiful.
It was a very tranquil walk on a lovely morning. The only downside was that I returned home without my woolly hat; I hope someone found it and gave it a nice home!
Follow Advice – Especially your own!
In previous blogs I stressed the need to look after your equipment and to be ready for all emergencies. The following photograph was taken a good three miles from home on a day when I wore a badly repaired pair of boots and did not take my first aid kit.
A Question Answered
In Blog 3, posted back on 17th April 2016, I included this picture taken by the river Ehen near Egremont in Cumbria. I asked for suggestions as to its use but at the time, no one could come up with anything. Julie recently posted it on the ‘I Love the Lake District’ Facebook page and it received over 40 responses; some inquisitive, some humorous but many serious.
Some suggested that it was once a gateway to allow sheep to pass but not cattle or horses but others said that it was a Coffin Rest.
The area used to have many Corpse Roads which were footpaths along which the deceased were carried to the nearest church which was licensed for funerals. It gave the pall bearers a chance to take the weight from their shoulders even though they would still have to balance the coffin during their break.
This latter suggestion, seems to be the answer. It also appears that corpses were wrapped in wool until the early 1800s without the need of a coffin! However that all changed when the law passed to boost the local wool trade, was repealed and coffin bearers suddenly had a much heavier burden, hence the need to put it down occasionally!
Grateful thanks to all those who engaged via social media and gave us so much more information than we could have possibly hoped to glean from one simple photograph.
Thank you for reading; I’m out and about again in Sussex soon before I once again return to the Cumbrian fells in May!