Day Eight – Southease to Exceat

Or Toilets in Alfriston – Need to Know Basis

Another gloriously sunny day greeted us this morning after a quick train ride from Brighton to Southease. Crossing the lovely footbridge over another busy road (oh for more of these) we headed up towards a mainly flat stretch of downland. It was great to be walking along the top of the ridge from Itford Hill, past loads of tumuli along to Firle Beacon, Bostal Hill (another favourite spot for parascending and the sky was full of them this Saturday) and gently descending down to Alfriston. Once again there were fantastic views and conveniently placed benches this time at the Firle Beacon car park, for morning cups of tea. It was pretty breezy up top but the September sun was still warm and most pleasant so once we got off the hill.

We have chatted occasionally to people on the Way. Near the Greenwich Meridian on Thursday we were asked directions to the Juggs in Kingston, by a group of women celebrating a birthday. This involved some discussion as to how long it would take and a GPS app on a mobile phone. Today we had a brief encounter with a couple from Yorkshire (or somewhere like that) who’d just started walking the South Downs Way after having completed the North Downs. They’d really disliked that because there were too many trees and not enough views. Even the taxi drivers had told them it was a bad idea. John was quite surprised as he had fond memories of the North Downs Way and it is on our list of things to do at some point, but I digress.

On arrival in Alfriston we headed for the Clergy House to make use of the National Trust facilities – alas no plumbing there – well what do you expect from a house built in 1350? However, a kindly guide told us where to find locate a little known of rest room. I could tell you in an emergency where it is but that information is only available on a need to know basis!

We headed back to the Clergy House after making use of these alternative facilities and ate our sandwiches in it’s pretty and sheltered gardens. We took a tour round the house afterwards though struggled a bit with the amount of information one of the enthusiastic guides wanted to impart to us! It is a modest little place but I found it rather humbling that it had stood the test of nearly 8 centuries worth of time.

After extricating ourselves from the clutches of the guide we headed back to the Way for a pleasant stroll along the Cuckmere to Litlington, and we all know what awaits for the weary traveller there – no “To the Litlington Tea Gardens” sign required! It was busy there as you’d expect on sunny Saturday but the cream tea was worth the  wait.

As always our walk was nicely fitting in to the time allotted to it. Between Litlington and Exceat we were able to appreciate the gathering of starlings on telegraph wires, the church at West Dean and of course the iconic views over the Cuckmere valley towards the sea.

We ate at the Golden Galleon and spent the night at the Exceat Farmhouse B&B. I was hoping for a clear evening so we could look at the stars, alas the weather, forecast to be bad tomorrow, had started it’s change and the sky was obscured with clouds. Still it was a peaceful place to spend the night.

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