Eighteen polyramblers, twice the number of last year, gathered on the seafront at Seaford for this magnificent walk along the Sussex coast and inland into the beautiful South Downs.
It promised to be a hot sunny day though with the possibility of thunderstorms and showers, making it rather humid. The train down to the coast was absolutely packed with groups of mainly young walkers, who were walking along the cliff top path.
After a briefing, we tackled out first ascent, up over Seaford Head and on to a relatively flat walk along the cliff tops where we experienced very welcome sea breezes and gazed on the spectacular views across to the Seven Sisters chalk cliffs. Patricia had brought her sketch pad with her and decided to stay and enjoy the views, penning a wonderful sketch which she later posted, rather than continue with the walk. The rest of us took the Vanguard Way inland along the Cuckmere Valley reaching at the bridging point a very busy main road, and the Seven Sisters country park centre. We made out lunch time stop here, perching on the top of a hill overlooking the scenic Cuckmere Valley and its large meanders.
After lunch, the path took us through woods providing much welcomed shade from the fierce sun. We passed by a white horse on a distant hill side, a reminder that the South Downs are chalk downland. We eventually reached the village of Litlington where we walked along the banks of the river Cuckmere into the charming old village of Alfriston where we took a much needed break for tea and ice creams sitting on benches in the middle of the High Street. In Alfriston, there were unisex public toilets which I had commented on last year were the cleanest I had seen in a long time. Perhaps they weren’t quite as clean this year, but they weren’t bad.
Refreshed by our ice-creams, we set out again. We walked across magnificent fields of rapeseed and wheat gently blowing in the wind. We eventually reached the little church of Berwick. The quite ordinary exterior belies the extraordinary interior where there are brightly coloured and exquisite wall paintings depicting scenes from the scriptures, rural country life and representatives of the armed forces which were a reminder of the wartime context of the paintings. The painters were members of the Bloomsbury set, Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell (sister of Virginia Woolf) who made frequent visits to this part of the world.
A stone’s thrown from Berwick Church is the Cricketer’s Arms, an eighteenth century pub where we sat al fresco in its wonderful garden full of summer flowers, for drinks.
From here it was a short walk across fields to Berwick Station where we caught our train back to Lewes and London.