Day Four – Cocking to Amberley

Or Oh No Not More Ancient Monuments

Waxing lyrical about the anicent nature of the South Downs Way – me, no not ever. I promise hardly a mention of such a thing in this episode, I’ll ignore the Roman Road between Chichester and London (Stane Street), the Barkhale Neolithic Camp (one of the largest causewayed enclosures ever discovered) and more Bronze Age burial mounds at Heyshott Down – I promise!!

Hmm so what to say now?!

Well perhaps time to extol the delights of the Sussex Countryside – Hampshire is very beautiful too but we crossed from there to West Sussex before we got to Harting Down yesterday.

I really liked this section of the walk, there was lots of woodland as well as open downland, farmland and fine views. I had a chance to enjoy this standing in a field above Cocking while John did an extra mile or two of walking after being rung by the Bluebell Inn to ask if the room key was still in his pocket – it was! The fields up on  this hill were full of ripened corn which crackled in the morning sun as it dried out a bit more. Pheasants grazed in the far corner and would fly up at the least disturbance.

We stopped briefly on re-joining the Way to chat to a cyclist about the joys of travelling slowly, and watch swallows and martins swooping round the farm yard. Everyone has been very friendly so far.

Towards Graffham Down the Way passes through a yew wood. It was so quiet you could hear the nuthatch tapping on the tree trunks and other birds calling in alarm as we passed by. It was also easy to imagine travellers from distant ages past treading softly through the trees alongside you. The areas of beech woodland we also passed through seemed to rustle with the approaching autumn (and squirrels burying stashes of booty for the leaner months).

We stopped for lunch on a perfect bench, with beautiful view towards the sea, on the edge of the Slindon estate. Our choice of picnic site was the envy of all who passed by – well two ladies who’d stopped before they’d found it anyway!

I can’t say much about the next bit as it involved Roman roads and Neolithic camps and I promised I wouldn’t!

The views across the Arun valley from beyond Bignor hill were stunning and it is always good to see that you are progressing towards your destination. In our case today – Amberely. I think I saw a couple of red kites on the way there, but I couldn’t be sure.

We had a while to wait for a train so we; sampled the delights of both the Riverside Tea garden and the Bridge Inn, watched a hot air balloon go directly overhead, chatted to one of the locals and marvelled at the old fashioned signals operated by a man in signal box with old fashioned levers!

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