South Down Way

Day Seven - 12th April 2007: Kingston to Alfriston – 11 miles

Our night at Bethel had been really good and the breakfast did not disappoint either. The owners mentioned that we had been so quiet, but with all the B&B’s we were always very aware of being in someone else’s home so we tried to keep as quiet as we could. We picked up our packed lunches and in some ways reluctantly left for the days march. Our stay had been fantastic and so we were sorry to leave but we were looking forward to a shorter day, only 12 miles. I had almost exhausted my supplies of plasters and padding so it was the first time I had walked on an unprotected foot so I hoped that the lower mileage wouldn’t aggravate it too much.

We set off along the flatish track to the base of the Downs before ascending the flank of the hill and getting back to the ridge.


Path back to the ridge from Kingston

After a short while we saw quite a few hang gliders and para gliders throwing themselves off the edge of the hill and so we stopped for a short time watching them. We then carried on to Iford Hill where we joined a concrete farm road with bright yellow rape seed crops either side which, with the blue sky, gave quite a contrast and of course a picture opportunity.


Rapeseed


Farm road between the Rapeseed

We descended slightly but the route over the final drop at Mill Hill wasn’t that clear but we did find the route again with the aid of the map and found our way to Cricketing Bottom. We made our way along the valley floor and then reached the road before crossing over to Southease where there is a lovely church with a round tower. We took the opportunity to stop as there was a convenient seat and had a snack.


Southease church

We continued along the lane and crossed the swing bridge over the River Ouse followed by the railway line before crossing the Newhaven road via the relatively new footbridge. We then contoured around the shoulder of the hill until we had once again gained the higher ground. It was quite windy and chilly but the weather was still fine. We stopped and could look down on the landfill site at Beddingham, trucks and various types of machinery all looking like toys amongst a sea of rubbish. The route continued to the communications masts before reaching Firle Beacon where we stopped at the car park.


Beddingham landfill site


Beddingham Hill

We didn’t stay long as it was difficult to get out of the wind, so we moved on and soon reached BoPeep car park where we stopped again as we could get out of the wind and the sun had a bit more warmth. There were again hang gliders and para gliders but far more interesting to us were a shepherd and his dog rounding up the sheep which was far more entertaining. My heel had started to hurt and had done so for the last few miles. I was trying to ignore it but I was loosing the battle and it was now painful and was starting to annoy me. We only had perhaps a couple of miles to go but as we set off again I was quite cross with myself about the whole thing. I should have padded it out for an extra day but I had assumed it would be fine. Well it wasn’t and I was not happy – at myself. It really is amazing how debilitating a blister or blisters can be but we had to carry on and so I walked slightly on the front of my foot to reduce the impact. This meant that I was limping but I hoped that this wouldn’t put too much pressure on other muscles bearing in mind we were carrying full packs.


Woolly friends


Alfriston

We made it to Alfriston and our spirits cheered as we entered the village. We know Alfriston very well and had decided to push the boat out and stay at The Star as it was our last night but it was a bit of a let down. We were shown to our room which was adequate rather than wonderful, and unpacked our things as normal. We went to have a bath but there was no hot water. We contacted Reception but they didn’t seem overly eager to help but suggested that if we left it for a couple of hours then it should get sorted. This wasn’t exactly what we wanted to hear after having had a day walking across the hills.


Alfriston


The Star

We decided to have a walk around and have a look at the options for dinner. But first we visited the general store and helped their balance sheet by relieving them of a couple of ice creams. Food wise The Star was very pricey and nothing appealed anyway so we decided on The George which was directly opposite. We went down to the church and sat on a seat for a while as we finished off our ice creams, in the late afternoon sunshine, before returning to the Star.

Although we had only been out about half an hour the water was now hot and so we could get our ablutions done and then go and get our dinner. The George was again quite expensive so we just opted for a main meal and a drink but the food was very good all the same. All too soon it was time to head back and get prepared for the next and final day.

We had decided when we had originally planned the walk, that out of the two route options on our last day we would take the coastal path, along the Seven Sisters rather than the other route, feeling that the walk along the cliffs was a more fitting end to our trek. We knew what the day would be like, we knew the terrain well so we knew what was coming and the weather forecast was good. With these thoughts in our minds we slept soundly that night.

 

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