South Down Way

Day Four - 9th April 2007: South Harting to Bury – 18 miles

We awoke to another fine day with scattered clouds hiding the sun every now and then.

We had our breakfast, which was a repeat of the previous day really. We got packed, picked up our packed lunch and prepared for a resumption of our march eastwards. We could have retraced our steps back up the path we had come down nearly a couple of days ago but decided to walk up the road and then cut up a lane that forms part of the Sussex Border Path. The lane came out on the ridge of the Downs about a couple of hundred yards from where we had left the path on the Saturday. We were on higher ground now but soon we were to descend down to the South Harting road and then sharply up again through trees until we came out on to open ground with extensive views to the north.

South Harting

We were very hot already which was a little bit of a worry as this was one of two 18 mile days, so it didn’t bode too well. The way levelled out for a while which enabled us to get our breath back before we ascended Beacon Hill. At this point the true SDW goes sharply south and then straight back on itself, almost north, creating a V shape. Finding that there is a perfectly good footpath that goes across the top of the V we took that route instead, as we would suggest, most other people do. The only downside to this was that it was steeply down and then very steeply up to regain the path. As we panted up the other side we passed a man coming down in quite a hurry, he was retracing his steps as one of his party had dropped a camera. By the time we had reached his companions at the top he had reached the valley floor and had found it, or at least we assumed he had as he was holding something victoriously aloft, we being too high up to hear what he was shouting.

Harting Downs

We continued on and once we got to Pen Hill decided to have our first rest stop of the day. It was a lovely spot looking out over to Treyford Hill and beyond but we had many more miles to do so we didn’t spend too long. We set off downwards into the valley and then we ascended to Treyford Hill, passing a memorial to Hauptmann Joseph Oestermann who was shot down during the war.

Treyford Hill

Joseph Oestermann's memorial

The woods gave welcome shade but soon we were back out into the open and had views over to Goodwood racecourse, the sun making the grandstand sparkle. We decided to have another stop for a few minutes before continuing along the good, if a little rutted track. It was nice to be almost on the flat but this was about to change as we saw the Cocking road in the distance.

Cocking Road and Heyshott Down

The descent was long but not very steep so consequently it wasn’t too taxing. We came upon a huge ball of chalk about 5 feet in diameter just at the side of the path and after taking the obligatory photo, carried on down the hill to the road.

Boulder on Cocking Down

Our route was straight over, so observing the green cross code, we crossed, and started the pull up to Heyshott Down passing a large bull in a field just off the track. He was totally unaware of anyone and anything as he chased his harem around the field. It was quite entertaining seeing him trying to have his wicked way with the ladies who were having none of it.

Randy Bull!

We passed through some sawmill buildings and passed a water tap for SDW walkers before making it to the top. Again we were fairly hot and so decided to have a rest for a while before continuing.

View back to Cocking Down

The next few miles were on relatively flat tracks which helped but the day was starting to take its toll and the first real signs of tiredness were starting to kick in. We reached Woolavington Down and could see the aerials on the opposite hill, but between us and the next hill was a descent to the Petersfield road and a steep ascent to the aerials on Burton Down.

View to Burton Down

We decided to stop again and had some more food as we were fine for time, but not wanting to be complacent we didn’t stop long but it was long enough to make the muscles tighten up just a bit too much. We shouldered our packs, which felt as if they were getting heavier not lighter and started off in the direction of the aerials. After dropping down to the road we ascended and eventually reached the top and entered the National Trust area at Bignor Hill, where there were loads of sheep with their new born lambs enjoying the sunshine. We arrived at the Roman sign post at Stane Street and decided a Snickers stop was in order so sat down in the grass at the car park and munched away. We set off once more on the obvious path away from the car park and soon arrived at Toby’s Stone, another memorial, before descending into a hollow and then contoured around the hill before climbing gently to Westburton Hill where we decided to have a wee stop which would have quite an impact on me for the next few days. We were both quite tired now and willing ourselves to get to the end, which wasn’t too far away, perhaps 2 miles. Having relieved ourselves we set off and immediately I felt something in my boot. It was only a speck of grit and it was moving about and so I left it. Every now and again it would get stuck in one position but I couldn’t be bothered to stop again and sort it out, especially bearing in mind we weren’t that far away from the B&B. Big mistake. As we made it to the A29 it had lodged just under my right heel. We crossed the road and headed down the hillside to the Bury to Houghton lane, all the time trying to walk on my toes to relieve the increasing pain in my heel. Why I didn’t stop then I just don’t know. I, we were very tired and I just assumed it would be alright once I got to the B&B and took my boots off and had a rest. The last mile or so on tarmac was horrible but we made it to Harkaway.



Carole Clarke was very pleasant and showed us to our room and then told us that cake and tea would be available straight away in the residents lounge. It was nearly 6pm so to have cake was welcome but we had to get changed and then get to the pub without spoiling our appetite. We dumped our packs and took our boots off, bliss, until I got up to walk to the lounge. It felt as if the grit was still there. It wasn’t. I had found the offending little blighter and had great delight in throwing it in the bin. It is incredible how something so small can do so much damage in so short a time. We had our tea and cake and had quite a long chat with Carole who had many stories to tell but my mind was somewhere else, approximately 5 feet 7 inches further south to be exact! We extracted ourselves from Carole and I could at last have a look at my heel. It was red and hot but no blister which was a relief so I jumped in the shower and could finally wash away the day’s grime.

It was starting to get dark as we made our way to the pub which, although only about half a mile away, was all uphill – great!. We were shattered, mind and legs having trouble communicating with each other. My heel still felt bad but the thought of anaesthetic in the guise of liquid in a pint glass spurred me on. The meal at the Squire and Horse was brilliant if a tad pricey but all too soon we felt it was time to make a move and get some sleep.
We made it back to the B&B, leg muscles still fighting to keep us upright. I plonked myself down on the bed and had another look at my heel. And there it was looking up at me, a nice symmetrical bubble of pain. I was so tired I hadn’t got the fight in me to moan, I just wanted my bed. It would all be better in the morning, or at least that’s what my mum used to say.


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