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Saturday 23rd February 2008
Hassocks - Clayton - Ditchling Beacon  - East Chiltington - Ditchling - Keymer - Hassocks
12 miles

This is a beautiful walk and takes in: woods that will soon be carpeted in bluebells, meadow land on the downs, 3 windmills, 3 ancient churches, at least 3 pubs and some very beautiful, unspoilt villages.  We started at hassocks and wound our way through Butchers Wood up to Clayton. The view of the windmills from the churchyard at Clayton can be taken in from a perfectly sited bench, which ranks as our "bench of the month". The walk soon after encompasses the highest point on the downs, Ditchling Beacon (813 ft). There was no view at all from the top today, as we were blanketed in low, scudding cloud, which reminded us both of hiking on the Yorkshire Moors.
We dropped down at Plumpton and stomped our way through to East Chiltington via Novington Manor. Some of these hidden country houses are just incredible. They really must be seen to be believed. A quick visit to the village headquarters (church) and we were off on a whistle stop tour of Sussex churches via Streat and Ditchling. We were on a bit of a march by then to be back at Hassocks by sunset so we had to fly through Ditchling. The village is very, very picturesque though, with a magnificent Tudor house called "Wings Place" next to the church. Apparently the house was part of the divorce settlement to Anne of Cleves from good old 'enri.

The very first part of the walk produced 3 green woodpeckers and 1 great spotted woodpecker

Jack & Jill just above Clayton.
We were lucky to get this view as the cloud soon descended and blocked off all visibility on the downs

A clear patch of weather at one of the dewponds

The view from Ditchling Beacon, the highest point on the downs

The first of many churches, St John the Baptists at Clayton

East Chiltington Church

Streat Church

St Margaret's Church at Ditchling.
The nave is pre 1066 and the south aisle from the 12th century. The church and village are mentioned in the Domesday Book.

Most of the bridges and stiles we used today (of which there were many) were made by the Monday group.
Our thanks and appreciation to them, for all of their hard work.

Some local and friendly, but sadly not indigenous, wildlife