Monday, 23 May 2011

Cocking (Circular) – (West Sussex) – 18/05/11 – 9.75 Miles – Helen

Having parked at the small (and easily missed) car park at the top of Cocking Hill, we began with a very steep ascent up the South Downs way (hope none of that sounds rude). Still the climb served to warm us up, which was just as well, as the weather was slightly duller and chillier than it had been on our previous walk. Our initial landmark, or place to stop for a breather, was the first of a number of two-metre diameter chalk stones by the sculptor Andy Goldsworthy. Any number of these (meaning I don’t know exactly how many) were to be found throughout the first half of the walk.

After traversing Newfarm plantation, we then turned into West Dean Woods, which seems to be part of the (private) West Dean estate, and is managed by the Sussex Wildlife Trust. When we eventually came out of that, we turned uphill (passing the edge of a former Roman Road) before stopping for lunch at the exact moment my GPS came in at 3 miles. As on our previous walk, me and Helen diverged on what constituted the seating arrangements, before settling down to scoff our lunch.

Back on the move again, we passed under some power lines and then walked along a very long avenue of trees, before eventually climbing up off of that into a wooded area again. However when we eventually descended out of that by the entrance to West Dean Gardens, we were faced with a horrendous road walk all the way to Singleton. Alright there was a narrow pavement but the traffic came hurtling past us at roadkill speed for nearly a mile, before we were able to turn off from it. Somewhat relieved to still be in one piece, we sat down on the seat by the duckpond, to have afternoon tea.

On our way again we did a sharp left at a footpath sign by a school and made our way up towards Levin Down. The views behind us were fantastic, causing us both to waste any number of pixels trying to capture it. Also we could hear the sounds of the Goodwood Racecourse meeting blowing towards us.

We then descended back down into a beautiful valley before eventually entering a section between Singleton Forest and Charlton Forest. This was slightly monoculture in tree terms and went on for a long but gentle climb, before we eventually emerged onto the crossroads of the South Downs Way. Here we were accosted by three walkers wanting to know where we had come from ourselves (which proved to be a difficult question for me anyway). So deciding to avoid walking with them, and more difficult questions, we stopped here for our final tea break. Once on my feet again, I realised I had suddenly become rather sore in a place best not discussed. However a nice descent along the South Downs Way, where Helen made friends with a cow, eased me back to the car park.

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