This was our most ambitious public transport-assisted walk to date – and our last. For our final two walks taking place over consecutive days – the walks furthest from Brighton and Hove – we need cars to ferry us to and from our overnight accommodation.
After catching the 0803 train from Brighton to Chichester, we boarded the No 60 bus at the bus station opposite the railway station and were back at Cocking by 0940.
From here we began the long pull up Cocking Down with a brisk southerly wind blasting us from the left and a few intermittent rain shows punctuating the the sunny intervals. As we did so we passed one of the huge balls of chalk installed by the artist Andy Goldsworthy on the Downs hereabouts.
The hill is not too steep and after a mile or so levels off to a slightly exposed plateau. We pushed on towards the shelter of the trees of the Monkton Estate ahead to take our first rest.
The path descended through the attractive beech trees of Philliswood Down and before long we arrived at the Royal Oak pub. Which was odd because there is no Royal Oak pub on the South Downs Way.
We had missed a right-angled turn in the SDW on Philliswood Down and had blundered on to Hooksway.
It didn’t matter much as a pleasant bridle path just beyond the pub took us back to the South Downs Way just south of Beacon Hill. And our error had revealed a previously unknown watering hole within easy reach of the SDW. Unfortunately at 1130 it did not appear to be open.
We lunched overlooking Beacon Hill on the bank beside the meadow-like Bramshott Bottom – exactly where we had lunched walking this section eastwards last year.
And after the sharp climb to Harting Down we caught the views north towards South Harting and, after glimpsing the ruined Vandallian Tower on the hill, we enjoyed the pleasant walk along the wooded hillside below it.
Pressing on along the more open restricted by-way to Hundred Acres we crossed into Hampshire and could see the Queen Elizabeth Country Park and the mast on Butser Hill ahead.
The climb up to the park was the last of the day and we were soon descending through the beech trees of Hanger Way, past the visitors centre and cafe and on to the bus stop where we arrived almost at the same moment as the bus to Petersfield, tea and the train home.
Sue’s photographic exposé of incompetence on SDW
Another exhilarating day hardly dampened by the sometimes heavy rain showers.
Walk details: distance walked 12 miles; height climbed: 1,432 feet.