|Saturday 17th May 2003.
An early start. A grey day. Heavy rain. Hey, let's go to the seaside!
Ok, not really, but we had planned a trip to Worthing for a craft show that Mikki wanted to attend. Obviously I therefore checked out potential sites en route.
Sussex roads are amongst the least driver-friendly I've ever encountered. Minimal lay-bys, poor forward visibility, high hedges (no good views), no possibility of overtaking even if the weight of traffic allowed it. And no Little Chef south of Dorking on the A24! Having had to skip breakfast, and having to watch the road carefully, I missed any indication for Chanctonbury Ring that may have been available. Was I impressed so far?
I even took the wrong road for Findon, ending up in a dairy farm, but eventually found the village and we made our way up to the car park for the Cissbury Ring Hill Fort. If the road hadn't petered out to a dirt track, I'd have probably missed that too, as the rain had stopped and a heavy mist was now descending. Leaving Mikki in the car as is our practise, I decided to risk a brisk walk to the top to have a quick look around. The chalk and flint path was very slippery underfoot as I ascended, but I managed to get up and get a good look at the outer ditch and embankment. Rather than walk the full perimeter, discretion being the better part of valour I returned to the safety of the car as the mist followed me down.
On to the fair, followed by a decent lunch at a Beefeater on the A27.
The afternoon was now mine to command. First stop was the Rest And Be Thankful stone at Southwick. A very depressing experience as it turned out. I had considered walking up to Thunder Barrow, but decided against it.
What a place! The road leading up to the track is a normal seaside town suburban road. Bungalows and terraced houses with clipped front lawns and twitching net curtains. All very nice and Stepford.
The track leads up past some allotments, and then the fun starts.
Most of us carry a plastic bag to put rubbish in when we visit sites. I think this place would need a fleet of dumper trucks. In a walk of less than 500 yards, I saw 2 mattresses, an armchair, 3 large gas canisters and countless bags of assorted household refuse. I seriously thought I’d strayed onto the council tip at one point, and if it weren’t for the GPS telling me I was getting close, I’d have given up.
Very very sad. I’d planned to continue on to look at Thunder Barrow, but was so depressed by what I’d seen when I reached the stone, I turned back to the car.
Next up was the Goldstone in Hove. Very quaint, pretty and 'municipal' in its setting.
The plan said that Alfriston Church was next. And so it would have been. We passed through the village, which is extremely unfriendly to drivers, albeit very pretty apparently – we didn't stop to pay the extortionate parking fee in the car park half a mile outside the village, as Mikki can't walk that far.
My main target of the day was the Long Man of Wilmington, but passing through Alfriston I missed the turn and had to drive right down to Seaford on the coast before returning up on the other side of the Cuckmere River to Wilmington. This was a fortuitous diversion, as it allowed us to stop at 'High and Over', a glorious viewpoint over the Cuckmere valley.
Finally arriving at Wilmington, I just had time to take the standard view photos and to visit the Yew in St Mary and St Peter's Churchyard (the church was closed for refurbishment following 'fire damage') before the heavens /really/ opened up on us. Visibility was seriously impeded by the heavy downpour, but determined to complete the plan we headed for Hellingly to view the church there.
Alas, we were thwarted once again, and the road to the village was closed 'access only' as the bridge was apparently down. A quick check of the map showed that the diversion was a bit too long to attempt, given the weather and distance from home, so we reluctantly headed for home.
The inclement weather continued all the way back to London, and joy of joys, it still took over two hours to cross London from Croydon to home. A distance of just over 20 miles. Today was not my most favourite day trip, but then you probably gathered that…
Posted by ocifant
18th May 2003ce
Edited 2nd August 2004ce
ocifant's TMA Blog
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