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