It’s nearly Christmas 1066
and the Conqueror is getting anxious.
More than just footsteps on a path.
Walks, Talks and Books for 2018
Well done to the Central London Outdoor Group who completed the final section of their epic walk from Westminster Abbey to Battle Abbey on Saturday 8th October 2016.
Bob Carpenter led the walk, following 1066 Harold’s Way, in 10 monthly stages from London and finished before the walker’s rush the following weekend.
It was a pity that I could not meet the group but there finish coincided with my Saxon Times talk for the Hastings History Group at the start of their Hastings Week programme.
Bob also asked about the progress of the follow-up books Final Journey, from , and 1066 William’s Way and my reply was that:
‘The Final Journey should be completed next year with publication the following year – it will be a good trek across the breadth of Sussex but at the moment, I am trying to get my head around all the public transport links and Southern Rail have not been helping me this year.
1066 William’s Way remains an on-going project.’
Lewes to Hassocks
21st August 2015 and ready for the off from Lewes Station on a bright and warm August day. Mike and Martin travelled up from Hampshire to join the group for the first time on Final Journey and hope to walk more of the final sections to Bosham next year.
Up to High Street and the war memorial with views across to the Martyrs obelisk on Cliffe Hill and then to look at the tablet on the front wall of the Town Hall, formerly the Star Inn before walking towards the Castle and through the Castle Gate. The bowling greens on the right hand side were once the site of the Castle Tilting Ground but since 1640 has seen more peaceful battles.
Away from the Castle is a more peaceful Lewes as we descend towards The Pells and the River Ouse for the idyllic river walk to Hamsey and then across the harvested fields to Barcombe.
Our first stop was in Barcombe Churchyard and although the benches were already taken it was still an opportunity to look back at Cliffe Hill and remember that it is one ‘Marilyn’ that can be ticked off in our little walking books.
For the definition of a Marilyn, visit: http://www.hill-bagging.co.uk/Marilyns.php
And now for one of the highlights of this section, 6 miles of old Roman road that starts close to Barcombe and will continue all the way to Ditchling. This old road starts unassumingly but soon becomes recognisable as a green lane and bridleway on a small ridge in the lea of and parallel to the South Downs.
After skirting Plumpton Racecourse, we stopped at the story board about Plumpton Cross and the memorial to the Battle of Lewes across the valley on the South Downs, being pointed out here by Martin. And then on to Streat to admire the wonderful 17th century Streat Place seen through the gates where our admiring glances were all caught on CCTV.
I had kept the party going with tales of Bedlam Ales and the Bull at Ditchling and in a break with tradition, walk stickers were awarded early at this superb watering hole. With just a 1½ to go to Hassocks and its station there would be no delay for people with trains to catch.
Just 30 mins left to continue along the Roman road which we left just before Keymar where it veers to the north as we continue past the restored windmill to the finish at Hassocks Station.
1066 Harold’s Way, The Final Journey
18th July 2015
It started warm and continued warm on the day that we climbed Cliffe Hill above Lewes.
Back up to proper numbers it was a lovely sunny day with a faint breeze in the air as we left Chiddingly through the churchyard towards Whitesmith and Vert Wood, sounds altogether posher than just plain Green Wood, and its long straight path through the trees. Hannah and Louise, fresh from their adventures in Vietnam, set a blistering pace holding the walk instructions but we declined to follow and meandered along in our own time.
This first section along the levels towards Ringmer was a mixture of green lanes and bridleways, shaded from the sun and enjoyable to walk, just mind the tree roots and rabbit holes.
Across the airfield, low on the horizon, was Cliffe Hill, from this distance it never seems so high but taken in easy stages it would not take long to climb.
A picnic lunch first, to comply with one of the rules of walking that there is always a hill straight after lunch! But it was worth it to look back from below the Glyndebourne wind turbine over almost the whole of The Final Journey to the east, from Netherfield, Warbleton and Horam to the valley below, it was some sight even on this hazy day.
The final climb was up towards Cliffe Hill. It is an amazing place and one of my favourite views on Final Journey, the undulating hills that match the paintings and drawings of Eric Ravilious and synonymous with the South Downs. The clear skies sharpen the landscape of ridges and valleys as the breeze rustles the grass. There is always time to stop and stare.
Today, we walked across the golf course but this final section to Lewes will be re-routed, across the summit, to walk past the obelisk in commemoration of the Lewes martyrs before the final descent into town.
The Dorset Arms was a fitting end for the issue of passports and stickers and for the sale of Three Castles and an Ironmaster’s House books – last year’s walk.