Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Eastbourne to Seaford – (East Sussex) – 13/04/09 – 13 miles – IVC

Typical isn’t it, you wait ages for a coastal walk to come along, and then suddenly two come along at once. So following on from the one I did less than a fortnight ago, IVC’s Bank Holiday outing was a walk I did twice last year, only this time in the opposite direction. Not only that, but a rarity for me anyway, it was a second long walk in two days.

Like the previous day it was a misty sort of start as we climbed up towards Beachy Head from Eastbourne. At one point I couldn’t work out what was it I was looking at floating in the air. Well in fact it was a boat so difficult was to see where the Sea ended and the Sky began. Now regular readers of this blog will know how I like to attack a climb (one reason being it hurts my knees to do them too slowly). Thus by this point I was already getting very irritated with the speed our leader was going uphill, yet not wanting to break the etiquette of going past him. However once near the top by the Beachy Head pub, I noticed he had led us past the toilets that I had promised myself I was going to pay a call at when I couldn’t find any at Eastbourne station. Thus I told to group to carry on as I walked about 400 yards in the opposite direction, and so kept my promise. Once things were sorted there I noticed the Sun was now out and it was turning into a lovely day. So it was bodywarmer off, and rucksack back on as I set off to catch the group back up, which I did just past the Belle Tout Lighthouse.

Lunch came round very soon from there at Birling Gap where the group fragmented into those who had bought sandwiches and those who wanted something local. I went for the fish and chips in the café, which when they turned up were more than reasonable for £7.95. The trouble is they took half an hour to turn up, and about another ten minutes to consume. Thus given the heat of the day I also wanted a pint of Cider before carrying on. However in the event this turned out to be no bad thing, as it gave me a legitimate excuse to tell the group to set off (again) without me, so I didn’t have to force the pint down quickly. In reality what I really wanted was for the rest of them to open up a large gap, so that I could attack the sisters at my pace and not at the group’s snails pace.

Unfortunately despite giving them all at least 15 minutes head start, by the fourth sister I had caught them all back up again. By which time most of the group were starting to leave our leader behind on the uphills, and waiting for him at each summit. On the way down from one of these sisters, a family who had been in our general vicinity for some time, pointed out a grass snake of sorts to us. Thus we all came to a halt to gaze and wonder, armed with our new found interest in snakes. The snake for its part seemed to be getting a bit pissed off at being the centre of attention and made a few threatening slivers in our directions. Therefore we all decided to leave it in peace to complete the Sisters in the opposite direction to us.

By the time we reached the estuary at Cuckmere Haven the day was at its sunniest best, with the temperatures easily into the Sixties. Thus after having come about a mile inland and now heading back towards the coast again at Exceat Bridge, our leader said he was stopping for a drink at the pub. However those who wanted to could make a dash for the hourly 17.55 train at Seaford. Now given that I had to be up at 0310 the next day, and that I was planning to go straight to bed as soon as I got in, an hour’s extra sleep was certainly worth shooting for. In the event only five of the group stayed behind at Exceat Bridge. However having done the route twice before I knew that an hour and a quarter to get to the station, was cutting it fine to say the least. Thus with no one seeming to have any great sense of urgency about them, I asked ‘did anyone mind if I pushed on’ and without waiting for the answer, split from the group for a third time. As I came near the end of the cliffs before Seaford I did a self portrait (seen here), with the camera on timer sitting on a bench. As it happened despite really pushing it I shouldn’t have even wasted time on that, as I made it into the station at 1748, with the train actually leaving at 1753. Congratulating myself on my pace and on making the train, I was maybe a little disappointed to see three of our group get off with me at Lewes (for the Victoria connection) having visibly hung onto my coattails to get to Seaford (no U.S. Marine ethic with me you understand).

Incidentally apologies for the lack of pictures, as despite extensively cleaning the camera lens last week, it seems the smudges on the camera from my holiday ten days back are inside the lens. Thus only a cut and paste overlay job with the sky made these two look respectable.

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