Originally, this weekend, we had planned to train up to Gatwick and from there to take a trail along to Pooh Corner and the Hundred acre woods. We had that queued up for Sunday so decided to go for a walk on Saturday. Only we slept in on Sunday because Saturday’s walk tired us out, so we gave up Pooh Corner in favor of Lewes Castle. We took the train up to Lewes, spent some time in the castle, had a pub lunch and then found our way home on our bicycles.
So, Saturday, we walked from Ditchling Beacon to Devil’s Dyke. This is a hike that we’d been meaning to do for some time. Simon and I had ridden that path before, and it was one of the “bus-to-bus” hikes we’d read about some time ago. This is a well documented route mostly along the South Downs Way. It’s so great to have the downs in our back yard like that. We caught a bus up to the Beacon with a cranky bus driver who laid on the horn at kids darting across the street, wouldn’t open the door for an old lady 15ft from the bus stop while he was stuck at the light, etc. We got to see bus-repair in action though. We pull into one bus stop, the driver opens the door and a repairman steps on board, takes the cracked side mirror off, puts a new one on, adjusts it for the driver, steps off and away we go again.
<p> From the parking lot, I show the girls where I had my spill <a href="http://www.worksmartlabs.com/cardiotrainer/tracks.php?trackId=662973120&sig=79d80d9523c1e2832f19f3f56cdca06fad2f1bc2">the previous weekend</a> and then we start up to the top of the hill where the Ordinance Survey marker is. After a diversion there, we’re off along the path. Coming toward us in clumps were a few “<a href="http://www.oxfam.org.uk/get_involved/fundraise/trailwalker/index.html">trailwalkers</a>“. We weren’t especially impressed until we looked up afterward and found that the people we’d been seeing had already done something like 80 of the 100km they were going to walk that weekend. Clearly these people were going to finish the first day! Wow! </p> <div class="imageright"> <a href="http://gallery.accapehart.com/v/Events/Outings/Ditch2Dyke/IMG_5041.JPG.html"><img src="http://gallery.accapehart.com/d/21654-2/IMG_5041.JPG" /></p> <p class="caption"> Jill Mill </p> <p> </a></div> <p> Looking for a place to stop, I remembered that the “Jack and Jill” windmills were not too far into the walk, and suggested we go there. I am so glad we did. It turned out that Jill was open – at least the upstairs bit. It was so amazing to be in the windmill as the blades spun around. The whole mill creaked and rocked lightly in the wind – it was almost like being aboard ship. And so fascinating to see all of the gears and power-transfer mechanisms. Not to mention just the size and weight of the blades. I’m often astonished at the feats of engineering that have gone into “simple” things and “Jill Mill” was no exception. </p> <p> We continued our hike after that, watching more trailwalkers come toward us, making our way along the edge of a golf course, climbing up out of a valley, and winding up at Devil’s Dyke no problem. We did just miss one bus though, so we ended up needing to wait for not quite an hour and a half for the next one. Fortunately, there’s a pub there so the time passed pretty quickly. </p> <div class="imageleft"> <a href="http://gallery.accapehart.com/v/Places/England/Lewes/IMG_5121.jpg.html"><img src="http://gallery.accapehart.com/d/21806-2/IMG_5121.jpg" /></p> <p class="caption"> Lewes Castle </p> <p> </a></div> <p> Then Sunday we slept in. Deciding what to do given that we felt like we needed a full day for the trek out to Pooh Corner, we settled on Lewes Castle. Back in ’08 we tried to take the train to the castle, but it ended up being a bus (they were working on the track) and the castled turned out to be closed (for renovation.) It was dark and wet that day. Today was the complete opposite. The train ran smoothly and on-time. We had no problems getting our bikes on and off, and it was a lovely sunny day. We had talked about riding there and taking the train back, but we wanted to be sure to have time at the castle and had we done things in that order, it would have been riskier. </p> <div class="imageright"> <a href="http://gallery.accapehart.com/v/Places/England/Lewes/IMG_5153.JPG.html"><img src="http://gallery.accapehart.com/d/21871-2/IMG_5153.JPG" /></p> <p class="caption"> An archer<br />takes aim </p> <p> </a></div> <p> So, we took the train there, biked up the hill from the station to the castle, paid our admission and started in. There’s not a lot to the castle, but what was there was really neat. The obligatory clockwise-ascending circular stairs (better for defenders from above), the stone work, the crenelated turrets, the cross-shaped windows for archers, etc. And lots of plaques explaining this thing or that. There were even clothes to try on, a kiddie crane for “building a castle” and so on. Not to mention gorgeous views of English countryside. It really was a neat spot. </p> <div class="imageleft"> <a href="http://gallery.accapehart.com/v/Places/England/Lewes/IMG_20100718_180447.jpg.html"><img src="http://gallery.accapehart.com/d/22031-2/IMG_20100718_180447.jpg" /></p> <p class="caption"> Carolyn descends </p> <p> </a></div> <p> Just outside, we grabbed a pub lunch and accidentally came across a “Thomas Paine lived here” house, and tested my map-reading skills as I planned our route back. It turned out quite well except that one spot that I thought was a bridle way was actually a footpath and the footpath was actually up several flights of stairs. Once we had that sorted out though, we trekked across a rarely-used road, over beautiful hill and dale, up a mountainside so steep Sam asked if it was a cliff (I even had to walk bits of it – only because I was towing Sam, I’m sure. *cough* *cough*). And finally, back down into Brighton. It really was a lovely ride on a lovely day – made more achingly so by the brevity of our time here. </p>