A Valentines adventure with Berghaus

A Valentines adventure with Berghaus

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Marytn and I live in a beautiful spot nestled under the South Downs Way. Being two very busy people it is a real treat to get out and explore our local trails together with our dog Luna. So this Valentines weekend we put our boots in the car, packed up Luna and headed around the corner for an adventure in our own back yard.

Parking at the Whitehorse in Chilgrove, one of our favourite country pubs, we had a quick drink to rehydrate and checked out the map. Martyn was in charge of directions, and not getting us lost!

Thirst quenched we set off walking along the main road towards our first of many gates, through the gate we entered a  field and continued to follow the path until we could not hear the buzzing of the road. The leaves crunched beneath our feet as we entered the wood, making our way through the trees, the first signs of spring’s arrival peaking up on the banks, a charming carpet of white snowdrops.

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Our path soon came to a small road called the Hooksway, a chalky hill leads up steeply to the South Downs Way. We decided it would be nice to sit at the top and eat lunch so continued up, heads down, heavy breathing, watching our footing on the slippery chalk.

As the track levelled out we passed the Devil’s Jumps, one of the best preserved Bronze Age barrow group left in Sussex. It is said that the reason for the name is that the devil jumped from barrow to barrow to annoy the God Thor, who then threw a stone at him and he ran off…. Make of this what you will! We saw no gods or devils just rabbits and sheep!

Leaving the woods our comfortable journey turned cold as the wind buffeted us; it was time to test the warming powers of our Berghaus jackets. Putting my hood up I felt cosy and sheltered from the elements. The view outstretched before us showing our chalky route heading back in the direction of Brighton. After a few more fields of sheep we found some large logs to sit on. Pic-nic time! Out came the sausages sandwiches and flask of tea. We munched our way through thick cut bread, sausages and mustard, crisps and a flask of tea, being eyed up by Luna who was convinced that there must be something in our pic-nic for her.

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Bellies full and with slightly chillier fingers we packed our bag and headed onwards. Martyn said we needed to pass three fields and then turn left and leave the South Downs Way. Following Martyn we merrily did what we thought was correct and ventured down a steep chalky path through woodlands where Luna was animated by the smells and sounds of potential squirrels behind every tree.

Happily walking along, soon we were not 100% convinced this was our path… stopping to check our map it became apparent we had missed a left hand turn earlier on and had actually now taken the path we should be walking up, not down!

We re-traced our steps back to the South Downs Way and straight over into West Dean woods, back on track, it was becoming dusky and walking from the open track into a new wood it was clear we would be finishing in the dark! All of a sudden Luna squealed with excitement as three majestic deer crossed our path about 200 metres in front of us.

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Even with the fading light West Dean woods was a magical place the spongy forest floor was covered in deer tracks, the sweet smell of forest filled the air and the mighty oaks and hazel trees towered above making you feel protected from the elements.

Steadily descending out of the woods and through a big wooden gate we followed the twinkle of lights onto a country road, illuminating our path by the stars and torch light we soon arrived back at the Whitehorse, just in time for a well earnt pub dinner and a nice glass of wine!

My Women’s Berghaus Extrem Micro Down Jacket was perfect for this adventure. I wore it with a jumper underneath and for the time of year and climate in the UK was great. The Extrem jacket uses Body-mapping design techniques which help regulate your temperature and put warmth where it’s really needed.

#BerghausDoItDifferently

Head over to Instagram to see my story of the walk.

Follow Berghaus here

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Soggy footpaths, frosty mornings, wellies and bobble hats!

Soggy footpaths, frosty mornings, wellies and bobble hats!

Last weekend Martyn, Luna and I layered up and headed out to explore the countryside. We started our adventure in a car park on the west side of the A286 on the South Downs Way near the village of Cocking.

From the car park, we turned west along the South Downs Way (SDW), on a wide surfaced track. As we climbed steadily pass Hill Top Farm, another 400m further and we were nearly at the top of the slope with sheep fields surrounding us, we turned left, leaving the SDW, passing a large chalk ball (one of several in this area made by the sculptor Andy Goldsworthy).

We couldn’t see much because of the drizzle, but on a good day you can clearly see Goodwood racecourse over to your left. Turning back around to survey where we came from the view over varied farmland was stunning, even in the drizzle. Walking into magical woodland we followed our directions “turning left at the next the three finger post turn left onto a wide chalky path.”

We walked further into the wood staying on the main track. The wood was alive with nature from various bird species, squirrels and deer. Luna was quite disgruntled not being allowed to pursue the deer.

Gradually the forest enclosed with tall spruce trees, after about 800m we reached an open area with hunter’s hideouts, not so hidden in the tree canopies.

Heading down a steep bank the path was covered in leaves and we were not sure we were on track, Luna seemed to know where she was going and soon enough there was a blue sign which indicated we were on track, well done Luna!

With our bellies rumbling we were now near our half way stop at Singleton and the Partridge Inn.

With beautiful beech trees to our left, spruce on our right it felt like something out of the Faraway Tree Books I read as a child. We kept wandering through the trees until our path popped out into vast views of farmers’ fields as far as our eyes could see. We took the path to the left down the farmers track towards a lonely isolated house.

Our path ran through Colworth Farm and then took a left back up through varied fields full of crops. We could see Singleton below and were excited about our lunch stop at The Partridge Inn. We followed the path down the right-hand side of a meadow, the path was steep and at the next stile Luna had to be carried by Martyn, as she was too big to go under the stile and too much of a wimp to go over it!

A steady march through the mud over the disused railway bridge, through cow fields until our last gate brought us out in Singleton. Finally the pub stop!

This dog friendly pub was a great find. With a big roaring fire and delicious sandwiches in front of us the idea of going outside to finish our walk was not

appealing…

We left the pub around 3.15pm with only 45 minutes of light left we would probably be finishing in the dark… little did we know the adventure that was about to unfold.

 

Walking down the little lane to the side of the pub, just after a river crossing and before the school, we turned left at a signpost on a wide track, passing a cemetery it was very muddy!

The path steeply climbed an open grassy field until we reached another wooden gate. This new open field had a wood to the right so we headed towards it and through another stile where sheep were grazing, with a Levin Down information panel on our left we were sure we were in the right place…

Our path descended down through black thorn bushes, as we reached the bottom we had a niggling feeling we had gone wrong, but where? Our instructions had stopped making sense and so we back tracked up the hill and took a different path, this turned out to be the off-piste route through scrub land and prickly bushes, a dead end.

 

 

 

Time ticking on we continued into a field with ponies grazing through a new gate and over a large grassy pasture the light was dusky and we couldn’t find a way out. Reaching the far side, google maps was needed to get us back on track! Martyn’s excellent map reading skills we found our path,  a sign post showed the direction to each neighboring village which helped get us back on track. As a double check, the path had a wire fence on the left and a hedge on the right, which was mentioned in our instructions. Heading towards the dark and mysterious forest with only 30% battery left we waited until in the pitch black before turning on the torch to light our way.

Counting my steps Martyn and I walked silently through the trees aware of the silence and stillness around us apart from the odd cracking tree branch, what was lurking in the pitch black? After 700m we entered a clearing and the eerie light from the moon cast shadows and made the trees look very spooky indeed. Looking back from where we had come was like looking into a well. Crossing the chalky path and on into the dark woodlands Luna was on high alert watching the darkness, ears pricked and aware of every sound and smell around her, she stuck close to my leg as if she could sense my nerves.

We kept going until we reached the South Downs Way; from here we could not go wrong. Knowing this section well from biking the views are incredible in every direction. In the dark we just enjoyed the peacefulness of walking through the countryside just the three of us, our road lit by torch.

This mini adventure right on our door step, was a cheap and fun day out spending time with the people I love in the fresh air and stunning South Downs. I would highly recommend a trip to the South Downs.