Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Hassocks to Lewes (South Downs) – (Sussex) – 03/05/09 – 11 Miles – IVC + Helen.

On a bright spring day that looked forward to the Summer, there was standing room only on the Brighton train out from Victoria. Fortunately most of these people were actually going to Brighton, rather than crowd us out at Hassocks station. So following a shortish climb up towards the Jack and Jill windmills our group found its way onto the South Downs (our newest National Park doncha know).


Now this really is one of the most easy on the eye walks that you can do. So as we headed in the direction of Lewes we had West Sussex far below us on our left, glimpses of the Sea to our right during the early stages, and straight ahead the green and pleasant rolling Downs. Yet despite this being one of Southern England’s most picturesque walks (well certainly that I have done) that is used by a variety of walkers and cyclists, it never becomes so busy that it detracts from your enjoyment. Also adding some colour and interest to the landscape is a mixed variety of cattle.

Even with the Sun being out, I for one found a slight nip in the air. So when we passed an ice cream van in a car park along the way I decided that, unlike two of our party, I could forego this as it really wasn’t warm enough. Besides as we had been walking for a long time at that point, I did not want to spoil our imminent lunch. So having walked around six miles we began a very long descent down towards Plumpton for lunch at the Half Moon pub. Thus given how long the descent was I was a tad concerned about having to go straight back up it again afterwards on a full stomach. In the event though it was not a problem, as the climb back up seemed nowhere near as long or steep, and also we didn’t get any lunch.

Unfortunately the Half Moon pub had clearly become overwhelmed with the amount of customers wanting food, at the same time as they were obviously lacking in staff, both waiting and in the kitchen. These things can happen I guess and I like to think I am someone who can make allowances. What was unforgiveable however was letting a large number of people queue up for well over half an hour, before telling them there was no more food orders being taken. The moral of this story if you are doing this particular walk, is to bring your own sandwiches; something Helen had originally suggested until I put her off. Thus for the half of our group who had been of the pub lunch mentality, we ultimately had to make do with a drink and a bag of crisps. So making the best of it we set off again up towards the Downs. Helen had taken the lack of food particularly badly, and for the second half of the walk I felt it important not to drift to far away from her.

Once back on the Downs the Sun went in and the light became more hazy. Meanwhile the previous loosely projected tea stop in Lewes, had itself become a quest of mythical proportions. Eventually we came off the Downs encountering yet more trials bikes (see previous blog entry), and partly followed the river Ouse as we made our way into Lewes town centre. Helen pointing out the ruins of Lewes castle in the distance (but checking on Wikipedia this may well have been Lewes priory ?).

Anyway once in Lewes we found the White Hart Hotel, yet another local establishment that becomes completely overwhelmed when confronted with a group of customers. To be fair we did all get our pastries, paninis and refreshments in the end. However nothing arrived on the table at all for twenty minutes. When things finally did, they came in the most piecemeal of fashion over the next ten, along with a large number of silver pots containing only water. Still I suppose at 5.30 on a Sunday afternoon, they could always have pulled the old kitchen has stopped taking orders gag, so one has to be grateful for small mercies.
Walks since last blog entry (2 x Four milers and 1 x Six miler).


  1. We are thinking of doing this walk on Saturday. Were the trail bikes a nuisance?

    Thanks for the tip on the full pubs. We will taking a packed lunch.

  2. Hi

    Well our encounter with the trail/trials bike were after we had come off the downs, and was no big hassle. As for the Downs themselves there are a few mountain bicycles but they are really few and far between (so don't let any of that put you off).

    However based on our group's bad experience with the pub, I would definately take a packed lunch