Wednesday, 6 May 2009
South Downs Way
Next week I'm off for a few days walking on the South Downs. My friend Eric and I are planning to walk the next stage of the South Downs Way - a long distance footpath that runs from Eastbourne in East Sussex to Winchester in Hampshire; a distance of about 100 miles.
Last May we spent three days walking the first stretch from Eastbourne to Clayton, and this year we will be re-joining the trail at Clayton to spend four days walking to Buriton, near Petersfield in Hampshire. This will leave a two day stage to complete later in the year. We could, of course, have walked the entire trail in one go, but it seemed easier to break it up into logical sections, with departure and arrival points that can easily be reached by public transport.
Although we will be staying in bed and breakfast accommodation (including one pub), we will still have to carry our spare clothing and other bits and pieces on our backs. This should not be a problem looking back on last year's walk. The one thing we are hoping for though, is an improvement in the weather - it is not much fun walking across the exposed tops of the Downs in the driving rain!
The idea for this walk came about three years ago. I had just started my new job, but my wife and I were still owners of the Cask & Glass in Tonbridge. Eric was managing the shop for us during the day, whilst I was at work, but I then had the joy of running the business evenings and weekends. It was a bit of a stressful time, so by way of something to look forward to, once the business had been sold, we promised ourselves that we would walk the South Downs Way. I have walked most of the trail before, but that was many years ago. I was a teenager then, and belonged to a youth group that used to go off Youth Hosteling in areas like the South Downs and the Peak District. After a gap of almost 40 years though, I'm sure most of the walk will look new and unfamiliar.
I must admit I am really looking forward to next week's walk through the Sussex countryside. Our respective wives will no doubt be glad to see the back of us for a few days, and who knows we may even find the odd pub or two to pop into along the way!