I went walking out to the Long Man yesterday. Here’s an outline of my route, starting out from the train halt in Berwick:
Walking out of Berwick there’s a cycle track which disappears after a few hundred metres. So I was forced to walk on the road, which I didn’t like much because it’s one of those little lanes penned in by hedgerows. There’s no space to get out the way of countryside motorists who tend to drive a bit too fast and overtake a bit too close. So I turned off towards ‘old Berwick’ rather than carry on direct to Alfriston. The path out of the village isn’t obvious, I just carried on walking south until I found the church. Thankfully the church is on a hill so when you look out you can clearly see the track across the fields to Alfriston.
Alfriston is a hub for rich people who live in the countryside. It’s got a winery, an antiques shop, a large church, a cafe that sells cream teas… you get the idea. I get that it’s got a historical background as a market town, but unlike Berwick it’s got no train station, no garage, no large road running through it, it’s a village largely for show. For my purposes it had two important features:
- a public toilet
- a bridge crossing the river Cuckmere
Across the bridge and up into the fields there’s the ruins of another church. The front part of the building was partly rebuilt, as if someone started restoring it and then gave up. The priory in Wilmington is in a similar state somewhere between decay and renovation.
After that it was a long slog uphill. From atop the ridge there’s a good view of the surrounding region.
And of course the famous Long Man. It was a bit underwhelming, just a stick figure carved into the side of a windswept mound.
So I walked the short lane into Wilmington. There’s a neat little church there (lots of churches here for some reason), and it’s overshadowed by this creaky old tree in the churchyard.
On the way back, I missed the first train back to Brighton. Watched it whistle past with feelings of utter dismay.
Also, in that field I was rushed by ponies. I was walking towards them and instead of quietly trotting away they galloped in my direction, so I did the natural thing: turned about-face and ran, jumped over the style to safety. They whinnied loudly at me from the other side of the fence. Maybe they thought I had food. More fool them, I’d already finished my lunch.
In the end, it wasn’t the ponies that got to me but the weary trudge through soggy fields.
Trousers got a bit dirty.