A misty Autumn morning which cleared as we headed east, although we were to find that the view remained hazy all day. A call the day before to Steyning Taxis had assured us that they would be on the case if we phoned when we were ready to be picked up…….and much to our amazement they were!
Towards the Downs, from where we walked today
Despite the title of this leg, it should be read in reverse. “Age brings Wisdom” so the saying goes and having checked the gradient profile we opted for the considerably easier way of walking east to west for this one. The taxi picked us up from High Trees car park on the A283 and took us through Fulking, Poynings and round to Saddlescombe. The scenery was superb with possibly the best views yet of the Downs. One pub we had to look out for was the one that Liz had mentioned many, many times, and just to make identification tricky, each time by a different name, so the guessing game continued until we finally drove past the Shepherd and Dog pub!
It was a short walk from Saddlescombe to the magnificent Devil’s Dyke. It is impossible to believe that in late Victorian times Devil’s Dyke became a tourist attraction, complete with a fairground, two bandstands, an observatory, a camera obscura, all served by a branch-line from Hove. During its heyday, Devil’s Dyke was a huge attraction for the Victorians, with 30,000 people visiting on Whit Monday in 1893.
We stopped for lunch just before the Fulking Escarpment and since we had to look this up – An escarpment is a steep slope or long cliff that occurs from faulting, tilting or warping and resulting erosion and separates two relatively level areas of differing elevations.
We stopped for lunch just before the Fulking Escarpment and since we had to look this up – an escarpment is a steep slope or long cliff that occurs from faulting, tilting or warping and resulting erosion and separates two relatively level areas of differing elevations.
Onwards and upwards – a steady ascent to the top of Truleigh Hill whose radio masts had been a familiar landmark from way back at Chanctonbury Ring. Truleigh Hill has a significant and little-known history as a nuclear early warning station in the days of the Cold War. Initially, an underground bunker radar station was built here in 1939, which was adapted as an early warning system in the late 1950’s. Signals from Truleigh would give England four minutes warning at best – three at worst. The network of underground tunnels, with walls 10ft thick underneath a harmless-looking brick bungalow, remains a secure site. It was decommissioned in 1958 and sold to a local farmer in 1965. He converted some of it to use as a night club but due to health and safety problems it had to close.
Walking became very easy as our path continued on a road where we came across signs for the Rampion off-shore wind farm. “Off-shore” didn’t make any sense up here so this had to be googled:
E-On and their contractors have started work on laying a new national grid power cable under the South Downs National Park. This new cable will connect the planned Rampion off shore wind farm with the national grid.
A quick check for the correct path with some lads in lycra who were mending a bike, across a field and a steep downhill (remember the second paragraph?) back to the car.
We had clocked up 5.25 miles today, the taxi had been well worth paying for, especially as we now didn’t have to go back to collect the other car. A purchase of ginger cake at Storrington and back to Petersfield for tea.
Thanks to YouTube here is a sample of today’s views