Day Nine – Exceat to Eastbourne

Or The End is Nigh

The forecasters proved right. After eight days of fabulous walking weather over the last month our luck finally ran out. High winds (force 6) and heavy rain – yay what an end to the journey. Still we were well fortified for the trip thanks to a hearty breakfast at the Exceat Farmhouse. A very pleasant and friendly place to stay.

Alison, the fabulous Dolphin trustee, joined us today determined to raise money for Dolphin House by hiking the last 8 miles or so wearing her wedding dress!

We didn’t hang about on the route admiring the view at all, it really was too blowy, rather a shame as I do so love this part of the South Downs. Strangely, it was easier to go up than down the Seven Sisters as their steep sides gave us some shelter from the elements determined to batter us. I have to confess we did stop for more fortification at the Birling Gap cafe but we had to meet up with Stephanie, who was finishing her cycle and walk of the South Downs Way for Dolphin House today too, so that was our excuse. For years the cafe here has been, in my mind, the worst cafe in the best place ever! However thanks to the National Trust it has become a much more desirable place to escape a howling gale.

The wind was against us all the way so this last bit was hard going but exhilarating. Somewhat damp and bedraggled we waited at the Beachy Head Inn for Steve to arrive and get hitched (again) three legged style to Alison! Ok and I confess we also stopped to have more fortification – well one has sample all the local delights surely? Next time perhaps we’d better just do a sponsored eat!

Anyway conditions really did deteriorate so the three legged mile idea was abandoned. Steve took the car on down to the start of the Way and lent me his waterproof as my flamboyant poncho had been shredded by a sudden gust of wind on Beachy Head. Alison, John and I scurried down the last stretch of the walk in even heavier rain than before. Typically once we got to the bottom it stopped. Still this allowed us to wring out socks, eat biscuits and take final photos before heading for home and a long hot bath.

It’s going to be strange getting up next week and not having to hop on a train or a bus to walk 10 – 12 miles, sampling the delights of tea rooms and local hostelries!

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