5th June 2014
First walk since the Cornish Coastal Path in April and I needed to get out, stretch the legs and continue walking the route of 1066 Harold’s Way, The Final Journey.
The intention was to catch the Compass 355 from Battle Abbey to Netherfield at 11.25am and walk the 6.5 miles from The White Hart to the Horse and Groom at Rushlake Green. Distance wise, only a shortish walk but making notes and taking photographs, getting lost and finding my way again all takes time.
There are only two buses a day and they only run on Tuesdays and Thursdays. There was no chance of catching the last bus from Rushlake Green at the end of the walk as it leaves at 13.24 so I had the pleasing prospect of being picked up by Stef’s taxis from the Horse and Groom (open all day) with her reward a largish white wine – I’ll drive back home.
Satnat primed for Stef, for after Tesco shopping, and all it needed now was the bus to be on time – what could go wrong.
The bus never arrived. A phone call to Compass led to an apology – the road from Netherfield to Battle had been subjected to an unadvised road closure and the bus driver turned his bus round and headed back to Heathfield.
I do admit that the words ‘spherical objects’ passed my lips, but, with the ‘lunch deal’ bought from the CooP, tea in my flask, it became an opportunity to explore some of the few paths around Battle that I had not walked before and to check an alternative route for Walk 1 Battle Abbey to Netherfield.
Walking gives you time to think and solutions, revisions and re-routes all became much clearer as a glorious vista opened up to the north west of Battle heading towards Beech Farm. It had taken some time and searching to find the path from Chain Lane as there was no fingerpost, waymark or footpath stone to mark the route.
To the west lay a wood of different levels and textures that seemed to carpet the hillside up to to the horizon and on this warm day, the sheep and cattle appeared content to lunch with little though of the intruder in their midst.
Down and up to take the footpath to the left of ‘Footpath Cottage’ and at Beech Farm, an archery shoot had been laid out with targets and Danger Signs warning of errant arrows. And on to Beech Mill to the junction of the old and sunken Wadhurst Lane that was once believed to be the site of the Malfosse.
Retracing my steps to Footpath Cottage, I turned north to follow the lane towards Netherfield Hill with its views of Caldbec Mill, the site of King Harold’s camp before the Battle of Hastings 1066. Down to the stone bridge and left along the stream – the last time that I walked this route the water was dangerously eroding the river bank but today some splendid repair work, presumably by Battle Ramblers and Bev Marks, their Chairman, has made the path safe (I will e-mail Bev to thank him after we talked about the path at The Sussex Ramblers AGM in February)
Across the A2100 I walked past where the Malfosse is now believed to have been fought and it is hard to imagine that twilight battle today with the sun shining and the breeze ruffling the long grass.
Up to Wood’s Place to cross 1066 Harold’s Way and down the drive towards Whatlington and a seat in the sun in front of Whatlington Village Hall to wait for Stef at the end of her battle with Tesco.
All in all a good walk, a few stops and lots of map checking and searching for paths not always clear. The 5 miles took a couple of hours but gave me some ideas for the Battle Circular that will be walked in October and which will be part of 1066 Harold’s Way, The Final Journey.