Our plan to complete the last leg of the North Downs Way was called off due to some last minute calls from the estate agents.
Surprisingly two sets of people wanted viewings early Saturday morning and guess what? The agency didn't have the staff to show them around, so would we mind? Not willing to miss an opportunity we said we would and, if we sold it, we'd want a cut in the commission.
With the viewings out of the way we had a quick flick through some guide books and with one in hand headed off to Ditchling Beacon, on the South Downs. We left the car at the NT car park and headed west along the South Downs Way. There was an eye watering wind blowing from the north and dark scattered clouds headed southwards, underneath the darker ones veils of rain joined cloud to ground. We weren't going to get around the route without getting a soaking.
After a few metres past the trig point we headed south to Heathy Brow, from here we could see the sea (the guide book notes that during the summer it twinkles nicely, no such luck today). From Heathy Brow we dropped down into North Bottom, a picturesque dry valley. Along the bottom and past Lower Standean the route then climbs back up gently back up to the South Downs Way at New Barn Farm.
The Way zigzags to a pair of windmills, and by this point we'd managed to avoid any of the rain, in fact the sun was beaming down. Back on the ridge the wind blew coldly and pushed darker and more wintry looking clouds towards us.
At Burnhouse dew pond we took shelter in the gorse and had lunch. At this point I was about to fill and test the Aquagear Travel Tap when the sun vanished and the skies opened up. Hailstones pinged and spinged about as we scrambled to get our kit away and waterproofs on. We set off back to the car at a spritely pace and nearing the beacon the sun reappeared.