Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

It feels like a very long time ago that my pal Hannah and I caught a train to Lewes and hiked the South Downs Way. We were training for the West Highland Way – making sure we could actually carry everything we needed for a 4 day hike in the Highlands, checking out gear all worked ok. Because we’re clever, right?

Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

DAY ONE

Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

We started on a sunny day, rolling green hills, many sheep.

Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

No rush, taking breaks in the sun probably more than we needed to.

Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

This is a really good spot to stop and sing The Sweater Song by Weezer at the top of your lungs. Try it some time and tell me I’m wrong.

Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

In Spring, everything is green and yellow.

Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

We had found a good halfway spot in Alfriston, a very quaint town.

Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

It was a really nice spot – we hired a fire drum, cooked up some chow and settled down for the evening. Or tried to, some kids in a camper van had a party a few pitches up from us, so sleep was hard to come by. Dramatic eye roll.

(Campsite details are here, in case  you want them)

DAY TWO

Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

The next day we awoke, keen to get back on the way. First – you have to walk through Alfriston, which as you can see is just awful.

Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

Along the river, with nice views looking back on the town and everyone out for a Sunday walk with their lovely doggos. I could live in Alfriston, I think.

Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

There is a white chalk horse in the nearby hills. Not sure which one this is, probably one of the fake Victorian ones.

Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

We found some nice hidden houses in the woods.

Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

And walked up a frightful flight of stairs. Who puts stairs in the middle of a forest. I almost died.

Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

This is called a Meander. Much nicer than an ordinary river.

Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

This is called a sheep rub. Or probably it is. I feel like thats right.

Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

Eventually we came out at the sea. The weather had turned grey, which means the colours were very nice and muted, but the walk became less enjoyable at this point. Gone were the rolling hills and sunshine.

Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

That is the edge of a cliff. You know, those white cliffs? That’s the edge.

Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

We had reached the Seven Sisters. I would like to complain to whoever named these – there are way more than seven ups and downs to navigate. It was SO windy, I had to concentrate really hard to get up without dying and then forgot there was a wavering edge that I kept ending up way too close to for my liking. Loads of people were out doing this for FUN. I mean, sure its beautiful.

Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

Get away from the EDGE.

Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

I feel like if I had gotten a bus here and not walked 20km and had zero sleep I might have enjoyed this view a lot more.

Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

I did enjoy this girl in her red coat, sitting and writing. You would, if you lived here, wouldn’t you.

Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

What this sign really says is “To a Cup of Tea and a Sit Down” – which at this point was very important.

Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

We reached the Birling Gap and had a cup of tea and a sit down. We also had to do some time maths because we had a train to catch in Eastbourne which was SOON. We considered catching the bus, but we had missed it. So we kept on going.

Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

The colours at Birling Gap were all very pleasing. I would go back here for a cup of tea again.

Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

Nope.

Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

Important note – this lighthouse is apparently on Air bnb. Lets book it for New Years?

Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

I was so tired at this point. Look at this soothing countryside. So soothing.

Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

The opposite of soothing.

Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

We decided to make it as far as Beachy Head. That’s Beachy Head lighthouse. So close.

Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

And that’s where we finished. From there, it’s a boring walk through Eastbourne, so we didn’t miss much (right?!). I was DONE with the wind, and carrying a pack, and we got a taxi. THAT’S RIGHT. WE GOT A TAXI.

Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

But lets take a moment to look at how far we walked, in the last few hours of the day. Being able to look back on a big, painful section of a hike like this is a joy. I may have wept. I may have wept with joy because it was over.

Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

BUT WAIT – The most important part of this whole hike was that right at the end, a small shrew was also walking the South Downs Way. Go on little shrew! You can do it!

Walking the South Downs Way, 2017

I’ve called this Part 1 because the truth is we only did half of the South Downs Way that weekend. We’re planning to do the rest another time – which I am very much looking forward to. Huge shout out to Hannah for being my hiking pal this year, and for putting up with my soft wimpering as I walked up and down the Seven Sisters.

There is way more than seven. WAY MORE.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *