|Welcome to the Sussex Ouse Valley Way|
The river walkway is a delight. The sun is strong and the air is heavy with the scent of grasses and many wild flowers. Steve keeps a steady pace while I stop-start, photographing little things that catch my eye - getting the habits of recording and cataloging - then rushing to catch up.
The banks of lush grass and wild flowers are full of life - red-tailed bumble bees and this beautiful iridescent pollen-eating beetle.
At Southease station we turn left up the South Downs Way on a dry chalky track, over grasslands studded with wild flowers. There are lots of mountain bikers on the trail - the downhills look great, the uphills much less so. At the top there's quite a breeze and it's clouding over. We know there's at least an hour of rain in the offing - the BBC forecast says so. We share a grassy depression on the ridge with a group of young American lads on mountain bikes for a lunch stop. Steve is American himself and after some observation quickly has them sussed: definitely Mormons. I bow to his judgement.
From here it's an easy few kilometres along to Firle Beacon. The summit is pocked with ancient earthworks. I imagine a Saxon barrow with numerous chambers for the great and good of the times. Now all is grassed over and gone, probably stripped by Victorian treasure hunters, needing an archaeologist's eyes to read the mounds and hollows.
The rain has come and gone and it's brightening up and warming up again as we drop north off the ridge towards Firle village and a couple of pints.
There's a small plantation of what I'm fairly sure is chicory, the first time I've seen it being grown commercially in this country - the collapsitarian post-globalist's hot beverage of choice. The drink is made from the roots - roasted, powdered and dried - and the leaves are good in a salad. Only one or two flowers were out as it doesn't really get going until July.
|Climbing Mount Caburn|
|Looking across the fields to Glynde Place|
|Looking back to Firle Beacon|
|Up and over...|
|Down into Lewes|