The No 2 Bus delivered us once again at the South Downs Way bus stop at Upper Beeding and 13 of us set off at 1000 across the bridle bridge over the River Adur to Botolphs and up past the outdoor pig farm that makes this the smelliest section of the South Downs Way. But nothing could mar the fact that it was another glorious sunny day on the Downs with a nice cooling south westerly breeze.
The steady rather than steep climb took us up past Steyning with superb views back on last week’s walk over the Dyke and Truleigh Hill with its distinctive masts.
To the south we had good views of the iron-age fort of Cissbury Ring, the largest of its kind in Sussex.
By midday we were approaching the still distinctive beeches of Chanctonbury Ring, despite the ravages they suffered in the Great Gale of 1987.
The trees provided a welcome shelter from the breeze for a lunch of sunshine, superb views and good company at this halfway point in the walk.
And as we set off again we caught our last glimpses of Brighton to the east and the first of the Isle of Wight to the west.
We were also able to distinguish the white tent like structures of Butlins at Bognor and the gasometer at Littlehampton.
The hill down to the A24 at Washington is steep and gravelly but a lot easier in this direction. It was this climb that almost proved the nemesis of some of last year’s walkers.
Once again the climb up Highden Hill from the A24 crossing was not too steep and it was not long before we started spotting Red Kites which seem to be a familiar sight on this Kithurst Hill section of the walk.
We certainly saw two together with a third circling much higher up and to the west but could not be sure if the repeated sightings were the same birds or not.
We rolled on, enjoying more superb views to the south and west, stopping briefly about once every hour. The tip of Selsey Bill became obvious as we approached the long descent from Rackham Hill into Amberley and the park at Arundel was clear though we struggled to make out Arundel Castle in the haze.
With the 1557 train due we pressed on and caught it with minutes to spare, changing at Ford, and arriving back in Brighton around 1720. Another superb day on the Downs that saw us reach the halfway point to Winchester with another four walks to come.
Walk Details: Distance walked; 13.6miles. Height climbed: 1,286 feet. With its more gradual ascents steeper descents this section is definitely one that is easier east-west than in the other direction.
Walk 1: Eastbourne to Southease
Walk 2: Southease to Ditchling Beacon
Walk 3: Ditchling Beacon to Upper Beeding