We left the car in Kingston near Lewes and after a short, sharp haul up the side of the south downs ridge we were on the Way.
There was a stiff southerly breeze blowing across the ridge and the sky was threatening rain that fortunately failed to materialise. Although my hands became clammy from the moisture laden air. The path is well marked and well worn, and was busy with other walkers and mountain bikers. This section is all bridleway, and much of it wide enough for walkers and bikers to pass easily but some is single track which made for some interesting occasions. Only one twat sliding down a gravel single failing to brake had us jumping out of the way, which spoilt what was up until then, a happy co-existence between us and two wheeled users of the Way.
Jack, or is it Jill Mill?
Rolling down land passed easily under our feet as we headed west. And the views from the whale back ridge north and south were expansive; the south coast and sea on our left, and the Weald and North Downs in the distance on our right.
The National Trails website lists a pub at Pyecombe that has basic camping and this was where we hoped to pitch up. Unfortunately as we got closer to the pub the noise of the road began increase; it became very clear that any hope of a peaceful nights camping wasn’t going to be had. There were a couple of water points ahead and potential wild pitches so we pressed on. The sun was starting to set as we neared the hostel in Truleigh Hill so we knocked on the door to see if they’d let us pitch in the grounds, a gruff voice answered the intercom and told us that they ‘were not operating.’ When asked about alternatives or suggestions we got the brush off. A jarring irony when taken in contrast to the original plaque that stated the YHA mission to provide a welcome to all travellers… At least the tap was working so we filled up and headed back to where we’d seen a potential pitch by the telecom tower. Not the best location, so we dropped down and found a small flattish spot with a bench and a view across the Weald and along the Fulking Escarpment. After a meatball supper and half a bottle of wine we turned in.
Sunset over Truleigh Hill
I woke early and put on a brew. We wasted no time in getting the tent down and the gear stowed away but we lingered on the spot as the sun crept over the downs. Across the Weald pockets of mist and fog covered the land and in the distance a lonely church spire stood as if on an island in a white sea.
Damn fine mug of coffee
By the telecom tower we found that a couple of guys had pitched a tent on the spot that we’d surveyed the evening before, after a brief chat we headed west along the Way stopping at the hostel for water and to dump our rubbish. The route runs on a road from here past Beeding Hill before dropping down a enclosed single track to the road. A couple of early morning mountain bikers pedalled up in low gear past us without incident.
The long way home
Crossing the main road we picked up the Downs Link into Shoreham. I stood on the path, a disused railway line, looking north and thought, just thirty miles along this track was home. But that’s for another day and turned south to Shoreham where we picked up the train back to Lewes.