Tuesday, 12 April 2011

A spell of good weather...

...really lifts the spirits. I went biking with a mate on each of the last two weekends, enjoying the dry and settled weather. It helps blow the cobwebs away, and we visited a clutch of interesting mediaeval churches in East Sussex last Sunday, following some wonderful back roads, before ending up in a very nice pub (the Six Bells in Chiddingly). Worth going back to at some point, I think...

One discovery was the grave of Malcolm Lowry in the churchyard of St John the Baptist in the village of Ripe. He wrote 'Under the Volcano', one of the most highly regarded novels of the 20th century, but died tragically young, in his forties, thanks to a formidable drinking habit. It would be hard to find a place more different from the setting of the novel: Ripe is as tranquil as rural England gets.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Black Cap and Warningore Bostall

I took a walk last week-end from Falmer to Plumpton, walking via a short stretch of the South Downs Way, passing over the area on the ridge of the Downs called Black Cap.

This is one of the summits of this stretch of the Downs, rising to 206m (676ft). There are signs of Bronze Age and Saxon burials, with a number of low tumuli. The summit looks southwards down onto Ashcombe Bottom, an area of natural woodland, coppiced hazel and areas of open glades, with exceptional biodiversity of plants and butterflies.

To the north are splendid views of the Sussex Weald, as well as an ancient track-way leading down towards Chiltington called the Warningore Bostall.

This is a steep sided track, worn down over the centuries by flocks of sheep being moved up and down the hillside from the Weald to the Downs. It's quite a dramatic man-made feature. This really is a special area, and home to nine species of orchid and - at the right time of the year - clouds of butterflies.