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Sussex Scrapbook ~ Nature walks throughout the year

Saturday 7th November 2009
Boreham Street - Hooe - Boreham Street
6 miles

A combination of the sun in our eyes, wet roads and a rear tyre that's seen better days, ensured that we had a very cautious ride to East Sussex this morning. We were already filled with a small amount of foreboding due to our previous experiences of walking in the far east of the county and today our worst fears came true. Quite frankly, walkers are obviously not wanted here, as most of the footpath signs hereabouts were either lying on the ground rotting, were thrown in hedges and ditches, were turned round the wrong way or were just plain missing. Most of the stiles are entirely grown over, are in dangerous condition, covered in barbed wire, invisible from only yards away or are missing entirely and have been replaced with fences and locked gates. The footpaths themselves are quite likely to have been moved (without detour signs), crossed by barbed wire and electric fences or just seem to have got up and walked!
There are some footpaths in East Sussex that are very well signposted, namely the ten long-distance footpaths that cross the county, the ones which all of the tourists are urged to use. These however make up only a small percentage of the entire footpath coverage and so if you really want to explore you're going to be up the creek. Yes, a map and compass can get you about the place, but what happens when you arrive at a water channel that is not on the map and the ambiguous signpost doesn't tell you which side of the channel to walk along? Neither side looks like a footpath (no one bothers walking out here, can you blame them? We only saw one other couple out walking: they were lost!) but one side is the correct path while the other leads to a dead end a mile ahead. Have this happen to you twenty times and the last thing you're doing is having a relaxing walk in the countryside.
Apparently there is a Rights Of Way Officer for East Sussex County Council. However, the only indications that he's ever done anything, are the little signs that he stuck up one afternoon at sporadic, easy to reach points, that tell you what a good job he's doing.

This area is a beautiful part of our country that is perfect for walkers of all abilities but the public footpaths have become very hard for the public to use. The only signs of any maintenance to the paths were those carried out by local volunteers, but it's unfortunate that the only reason the paths are still open at all is due to these fine people and not to any assistance from the local authorities and landowners. Perhaps we're just spoilt, as the footpaths in West Sussex are so very well maintained, but so are the many other footpaths we've used throughout the UK.
By the time we'd got only half-way through our route the time was getting on and we were forced to shorten our walk substantially before we were left out there in the dark. We decided to finish the day by sitting in front of the fire at The Bull's Head, Boreham Street and chucking down some seasonal and local Harvey's Old Ale.

We did meet some very friendly locals though

In actual fact, this was one of the better footpath signs. At least it points in two directions.

Instead of pointing in three directions, this one just pointed at the ground.

This one had given up pointing a long time ago.

This was a hand hold (for safety) on a broken stile. Thanks very much!
Tetanus jabs anyone?

This could've been us!

A broken, invisible, overgrown stile.

God bless em, otherwise this small stream would have been impassable.

The clearest sign all day although thankfully very inaccurate .

St. Oswald's, Hooe. We were lucky to get this far!

The hassocks in St Oswald's, Hooe are embroidered with pictures of all of the village houses.

Magic Mushrooms in one of the many horse fields.

Male Stonechat

This is Waller's Haven, which we had to cross twice.
Luckily for us there were still bridges!