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Sussex Scrapbook ~ Nature walks throughout the year
Green Man
Saturday 19th September 2009
Alfriston - Wilmington - Arlington - Selmeston - Alciston - Berwick - Alfriston
11 miles

Gill couldn't (wouldn't) be roused this morning, so we ended up leaving home at a ridiculously late hour: even so we planned on doing 11 miles, which meant that at the rate we move we were going to be walking in darkness for at least the last hour. It was a very hot, muggy, sweaty day that rapidly sapped our strength and the contents of our water bottles and so we had to take refuge in all of the shady bits that we could find (that's our excuse for taking so long). The hedgerows are heaving with ripe fruit, nuts are starting to ripen on the trees and fungi are starting to pop up too. Luckily we've got toothpicks with us now, as the berry seeds in our English teeth had been driving us nuts too!
The day had become a dark and moonless night before we reached Selmeston leaving us with well over an hour and a half still to walk with only our battered little torch for illumination. The area ahead of us was formed of large fields (all of which had recently been harvested), and when we scanned ahead to search the far off hedgerow for the next footpath sign, we couldn't see anything. Even when we were close to the signs we were only finding them by luck. We decided to take another, easier route that followed proper, easier to follow tracks (plan B), otherwise we might have been wandering about aimlessly all night.
When the lights of the mighty metropolis of Alfriston came into view, we decided that we needed beer to celebrate our arrival back in civilisation, and so wearily we headed to the closest pub we could find (Ye Olde Smugglers Inne), for a well earned Harveys.
This walk has very little in the way of hills to climb so can be done by anyone. There are a lot of stiles though (perhaps 30 in all) and quite a few very narrow kissing gates. The 6 ancient churches along the way are well worth visiting, but all have notices asking for dogs to be kept on leads as the churchyards are all mini nature reserves. The route also takes in Arlington Reservoir, where today the water was very low, but then again we're nearly at the end of summer, so maybe the lack of water isn't such a big problem.
Best bits of the day were: looking for conkers, watching a pair of Winchats catching flies, seeing a spider cast a long line of silk and then parachuting up and away on the breeze, having a Sparrowhawk fly low over our heads at the reservoir, having skeins of geese circling round us at sunset, the delicious ginger and treacle cake we took with us, and, lastly but not leastly, walking the last three miles alone in pitch darkness.

We started off late in the day from the cathedral of the Downs at Alfriston.

Autumn has arrived almost overnight in Sussex

The 1600 year old Yew at Wilmington, held up with props, posts and chains.

A Red Darter that landed on my grubby old hat

Sweet chestnuts

Peacock butterfly

A very faded Small Copper

A very pastoral view across to Arlington church

A loaf for the harvest festival at the beautifully decorated church at Arlington

Common Puffball