It was another hot day. Continuous sunshine was forecast but, shortly before the ten mile walk was due to start, a bank of cloud arrived. This worried those who had brought no rain gear. Fortunately, the cloud cleared in about an hour and a half and there was sunshine for the rest of the day.
We started from the NT car park by Harting Downs off the B2141. Thirty-six arrived according to the list of names. The backmarker diligently counted us out. There were 35. Had we lost one already? The group marched on oblivious to the bm’s concern. Twenty minutes later, at the first opportunity for a recount, the number was still 35. Another check, this time of the list, revealed the problem: one person’s name appeared twice.
We headed SE on a bridleway parallel to the B2141, crossed the road, continued on a bridleway to a footpath on the left, reached Long Lane, crossed this to a footpath on the left which took us to East Marden—our stop for coffee. After this we headed east on a footpath to Hillbarn, turned left then right on another footpath to Bow Hill Farm where we joined a bridleway and walked SE on the ridge of Chilgrove Hill. The views along here were superb. We had our first glimpse of the sea. A bull in a field, we were glad to note, paid us no regard.
At a junction with another bridleway we turned left and headed north to Chilgrove, crossed the B2141 and took a footpath by the west side of the pub. This joined a bridleway, Philliswood Lane, which took us to Hooksway where we stopped for lunch. Those in the first half of the group, seeing the pub by the main road, thought this was our stop for lunch and walked remarkably quickly towards the front door. Our leader, who had been keeping an eye on those crossing the road, had to move fast to head them off.
After lunch we walked SW up the hill from the pub, turned right on a bridleway and stayed on this to pass Telegraph House, join the South Downs Way and reach the top of Beacon Hill. Here we stopped to look at the panoramic view and the approach of four helicopters—three Chinooks and a small one. From the ground the Chinooks resembled giant airborne metallic wood lice. They parted company with the other chopper, wheeled round then set off in a line after it. We headed west downhill on a bridleway, rejoined the SDW and continued west back to the car park.
Map: OS X 120