1066 Harold’s Way, The Final Journey

Tuesday 17th June

Rushlake Green to Whitesmith

Taking advantage of this spell of good walking weather and today, putting my trust in public transport, all went smoothly and I stepped off the Compass 355 out on to the Green at Rushlake at 11.50.

The 9½ miles would take an estimated 2¾ hours not taking into account stops and route checking, photographs and note taking and the occasional foray off-piste when waymarks disappear.

I was looking forward to the final few miles of the High Weald before entering the Low Weald. I was intrigued by some of the villages and their pubs, the place names such as Gun Hill and that mile or so along the Cuckoo Trail from Horam.

Rushlake Green to Warbleton, past Kingsley Hill, before climbing up to the church opposite The Black Duck (one to come back to later) – the path takes you through the churchyard and at the entrance to the graveyard is a memorial stone to Richard Woodman, Farmer and Ironmaster, burnt at Lewes 1557.

Richard Woodman was a Protestant Martyr at the time of Queen Mary and along with nine other martyrs was part of the largest number of people burnt at one time. I will pass The Star Inn, now the Town Hall in Lewes at the end of the next walk and will say a little prayer.

Walking down from the church towards Vines Cross reveals views towards the South Downs and northwards to Heathfield and the prominent church at Old Heathfield. Sandwiches on a bench at Horam, there is a café for future reference, before the Cuckoo Trail and the 5½ miles to Whitesmith.

From the Cuckoo Trail it is a short walk through meadows to cross the A267 although the path on the Explorer Map is not quite in the right position and involved just a little tooing and froing to check where I should be walking.

From the A267 to the amazing and old Swanbrook Farm (17thC or before Swan Mill) before taking the path to Gun Hill – I have always been curious about Gun Hill which until now was just a signpost away from the A22. It disappointed a little, the road was busy, the pub was an ‘eating house’ and there was little obvious history about the place – further research proved unrewarding and I can only assume that the Gun relates to canon and guns that may have been produced by the local ironworks. I will be re-routing The Final Journey to a safer path. From Gun Hill, the Weald Way takes us to Chiddingly and sadly, I missed the pub completely, the path going through the churchyard and across the cricket field, leaving the Weald Way behind (that goes past the pub!).

I met Keith Mitchell from Scotland visiting his father but also taking the opportunity to walk part of the Weald Way, today Buxted to Hailsham. We talked about 1066 Harold’s Way and Three Castles over a gate that would not open – it was a proper Harold’s Way ‘ambush’.

Just a mile to Whitesmith, the Bus Stops to Eastbourne and Uckfield Stagecoach buses and my lift, courtesy of Stef who was promised a cider.

A good walk, a good pace but Whitesmith will only be a stop on the way to Lewes after all there is nowhere to sit and have a pint.

At Chiddingly, I met the verger? who was there to check that the Church wheelchair tyres were blown up and offered me a cup of tea when I got to Whitesmith – regretfully, I said no as I would be sure that my lift was waiting at the main road. I would have had time as the traffic along the A259 towards Eastbourne was horrendous – another time perhaps.

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