Obviously, we do not think it is possible to get up every morning and just walk 10-30 miles a day with no preparation at all. This would be asking for trouble!
Ringmer to East Hoathly – and back again.
The walk took us through very wet clay farmers fields and along muddy tracks. We thoroughly enjoyed it even though it was mucky, and meant Graham Would have two pairs of really muddy hiking boots to scrub later on.
We cannot believe it is 1st February already. The days are rapidly moving along. We were very busy this weekend so did not have time for a long walk. However, we did have chores to do in town. So we decided to walk into Lewes and back instead of driving. We have completed this 6.5 mile round trip a few times and although it is a short walk compared to some we have completed recently, it is still training and good exercise.
We were taken by surprise when walking along the cycle/footpath from Ringmer to Lewes, a young couple came speeding past on what we can only describe as ‘short ski’s on wheels’ and using ski poles to assist them in going faster. We did not hear them coming, one minute they were there, then they were gone! I guess they were practicing for their skiing holiday. It did look fun though.
When we arrived home it felt as though we had only walked a couple of miles. I believe that we could have completed the walk again if it wasn’t getting late. We must be getting used to the walks. That can only be a good thing.
With storm ‘Ciara’ quickly followed by storm ‘Dennis’ causing flooding along with gale force winds over the past two or three weeks, we have not had chance to really get out there and do some good long walks. Apparently, we also have storm ‘Ellen’ approaching us from the Atlantic this weekend coming too. However, we do not want to waste precious preparation time; so we have started plotting our route from our home in Ringmer to Canterbury.
It has been exciting buying the OS maps and plotting our routes. We want to stick to footpaths, fields and bridleways etc as much as possible. If we can avoid roads then we will. The occasional road is inevitable, ranging from quieter country lanes to the busier A roads. But, we all have to take the good with the bad, it makes life more interesting.
Oh no! We are starting to become a little concerned about this Coronavirus outbreak. As we are sure you are aware, the virus started in Wuhan, China and seems to be rapidly spreading across the world. Unfortunately it has reached parts of Italy and Switzerland, along the routes which we are planning to walk. Looking on the official Via Francigena website today, they are advising travelers to avoid:
1. Santa Cristina – Orio Litta
2. Orio Litta – Piacenza, as they are included in the quarantine perimeter for the precautions.
These are areas that we were really looking forward to walking.
At the moment we are playing it by ear in the hope that it will be safe by the time we set off on 20th April. So keep your fingers crossed. If the virus spreads further, we will have no option but to postpone the adventure for a year.
At last some sunshine! A stroll along Eastbourne seafront
We have had nothing but gales and rain for months now! But this morning the weatherman predicted sunshine for a short time today. So, we thought we would make the most of it and go for a walk and also take the opportunity to practice with our new cameras. We are not experts with new technology or gadgetry, therefore practice is a must before we set off on our big adventure (providing this Coronavirus calms down a bit).
Please ignore the dates on the photo’s, should be 2020 not 2018!
We took a walk the length of Eastbourne seafront and back again. The sun was shining but it was quite cold and windy, we didn’t care, it was beautiful to not only feel and see the sunshine again, but also to see so many people out enjoying the dry weather for once. Lots of dog walkers, parents with their children and couples, all smiling and having a lovely time.
The sea looked rather choppy with sea foam being picked up by the wind and spraying inland. There were quite a few dogs that were bounding along the pebbles chasing balls and having a grand time!
There was one particular scene that was very sad to see though. The remains of the Claremont Hotel which was burnt down in a fire last summer. Only a small section is left standing now. We noticed that some of the original ornamental decoration from the exterior of the hotel has been saved to be reused when they rebuild the hotel. We look forward to seeing the rebuild and hope that it is not too long coming.
Monday 9th March 2020
Things are looking rather bleak now for our adventure. We have just found this notification on one of the Via Francigena websites:
“Due to the decree of the Italian State to contain the coronavirus epidemic, as of today, the following hostels are closed indefinitely:
– Ostello di Lamporo (Via Francigena)
– Santi Eusebi, Vercelli (Via Francigena)
– La torre merlata, Palestro (Via Francigena)
– Ostello comunale, Robbio (Via Francigena)
– Ospitalità parrocchiale, Nicorvo (Via Francigena)
– Ospitale di Sant’Albino, Mortara (Via Francigena)
– La Grangia Benedettina, Orio Litta (Via Francigena)
– Ospitalità Sant’Antonio, Caniparola (Via Francigena)
– Ospitale San Nicolao, Lucca (Via Francigena)
– La casa di Lazzaro, Acquapendente (Via Francigena) until april, 4th
– Domus peregrini, Montefiascone (Via Francigena)
– Ospitale del Pellegrino, Viterbo (Via Francigena)
– Casa Sofia, Filattiera (Via Francigena)
– Ospedale della Provvidenza, Roma (Via Francigena)“
Most of these hostels are those which we were planning to use on our journey.
At the moment we are trying our upmost to remain optimistic, but as the days pass and the situation around the world becomes increasingly worse…….well, need we say more! If our pilgrimage cannot take place this year, then we will look at doing it in 2021.
FINGERS CROSSED 🤞🏻
OK, so here we are 19 July 2020. The pandemic has been horrendous, many deaths around the world and countries in lockdown. Now, boarders are slowly starting to open and people are beginning to get out and about. It is too late in the year to begin our pilgrimage, so we are now looking to set off in April 2021….all things going to plan. Let us hope that there will not be a long lasting second wave of Coronavirus.
Unfortunately, Graham has had problems with pain in his groin and hip. He has been receiving treatment from a highly recommended chiropractor in Lewes and things seem to be on the mend, slowly but surely. So fingers crossed he will be ready by April. Because of the pain Graham has been in, we have not had the opportunity to continue our preparation walks. But, this weekend we thought we would give it a go and see how Graham faired. I must say, I am very proud of him. He did so well, and most importantly there was no limping whatsoever. Fantastic! Hopefully now we can begin our hiking again. Obviously we do not want to overdo things. We need to take it slowly and build things up gradually on the chiropractors recommendation.
Punnetts Town to Burwash – 15th August 2020
We thought that today we would try out another part of our route. We drove the car to Punnetts Town, parked up and set off on a beautiful walk to Burwash. The weather was dry and very warm, but the breeze cooled us down a little at first.
Within the first 10 minutes, we realised we had taken the wrong road…..that was a good start! Mind you, to be fair the road we were on took us directly onto the correct path after a short while, so all was well. It also took us past a lovely windmill which was being refurbished, which we would have missed had we followed the original route. I remember one of the Via Francigena bloggers saying once ‘sometimes it is fate when you miss a turn’ how right they were.
We walked down a pretty country lane taking in the lovely cottages that we would like to live in. At the end of the lane we came to a left turn or straight ahead down a track. Out came the map…..hmmm. Graham’s glasses were steaming up due to perspiration and being a paper map we could not zoom in for better detail. Why didn’t I bring my phone with the apps on! Needless to say we trudged a little way down the wrong road, there was a delivery man sitting in his van watching us, he knew full well the road we were taking was a dead end, and we turned back after 5 minutes returning to the delivery man sitting in his van. As we approached him he looked up and indicated the correct path so Graham went over for a little chat while I contemplated the muddy bridle path we were about to take. I could hear them laughing between them, when a Graham returned he informed me the driver was doing his online a Tesco order……..I bet his boss doesn’t know!
Onwards we continued along the muddy bridle way which was difficult in parts and a few riders passed us on their loyal horses. Everyone is so friendly on these walks and often they say hello with a smile, sometimes they stop for a chat or offer directions. We came to a stunning little place called Glaciers Forge with maybe three properties. There was a little bridge which we decided to rest on for a break. Such a pretty area, peaceful and tranquil. You would never believe that this was once the hive of industrial activity with the sound of Forge hammers at work.
After our break we continued up a gentle incline into woodland. There were footpath signs along the way so we followed these for a while. We crossed a few wooden bridges…we do like a good bridge. I don’t know why, but we find bridges rather exciting….does that make us odd? After about twenty minutes Graham informed me, whist looking at the map “we should have passed this farm by now” YES! You have guessed it, we were lost AGAIN. Seriously, you have to laugh. I wonder how often we will get lost on the way to Rome 🤔🤔 Mind you we were in the middle of the Forrest, so back we tracked. We were about 15 minutes out of our way, but as I said earlier, getting lost is part of the fun. We would not have found these bridges if we went the correct way! As we continued we came across a young man walking his two dogs, after a short chat he whipped out his phone with mapping app and directed us back onto the correct path. We were all laughing about getting lost again. OK clever clogs! We have that app too but it’s at home!
We carried on across fields, through gates, over styles, up hills and along the way we met two charming metal detectorists. Graham was in his element chatting about ‘finds’ and ‘detectors’. They had found several silver coins, buttons and some spent cartridge shells from WW2. They advised us that the cows in the field across the road were a bit temperamental and to watch out for the bull…..Oh, great! They pointed us on the right track to Burwash and off we went. By now the heat was rising and we were drenched with sweat, the breeze which cooled us earlier had now ceased and the atmosphere was now hot, still and humid. As most pilgrims say ‘Camino Provides’ and we found a blackberry bush enticing us with delicious blackberries which we ate with enthusiasm, it’s amazing how something so small can really perk you up. We crossed the field and luckily the cattle and bull were nowhere to be seen. As we entered the next field through a gate we spotted Burwash church in the distance. Brilliant, we are almost there. What a sight for sore eyes.
The walk Stretched down the valley, following a stream which lead to the mill pond situated at the rear of Bateman’s National Trust property. We have visited Bateman’s many times, the home of Rudyard Kipling who wrote The Jungle Book. I have fond memories of taking my lovely dad there in the past, god rest his soul. https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/batemans
Wow! The walk up the hill from Bateman’s into Burwash village was very steep and challenging and we had to stop for a rest a couple of times. Well, when I say we, I actually mean me. We were so hot and sticky and were looking forward to reaching the pub, hoping they were open and that they have space for us. Being strange times due to Covid 19, we were unsure about these things. But we need not have worried as when we reached The Bear Inn, it was open and fairly quiet. The lovely lady behind the bar took our food order and we settled in the beer garden with our larger shandy. The view from the garden is stunning looking down into the valley although it was slightly overcast. There were a few people there, all social distancing and enjoying the views. I must say the nut roast burger was lovely, but after that long hot walk, the shandy was to die for!
After our well deserved break at The Bear Inn, it was time to do an about turn and set off back the way we came to Punnetts Town. We were looking forward to the walk back as we confidently knew the way now and put the maps away. At least we were walking down the hill towards Bateman’s this time and not up it! So much easier.
As we walked back along the valley, passing a herd of cows with their young calves, we suddenly came face to face with the bull! We looked, and the bull with his head down and eyes up watched our every move. Needless to say we squeezed each other’s hands in terror and marched passed trying not to make eye contact. After about one hundred yards we finally reached safety and hopped over the style in double quick time.
When we returned to Glaziers Forge where we had previously stopped for a short break, we met a lovely lady on the bridge who had only been living in the hamlet for four years. We chatted about all sorts of things and we told her about our walk to Rome next year (all going well). She explained that she had previously taken her daughter on a walking trip around Tibet which they thoroughly enjoyed. We explained that Glaziers Forge is on our route the first day of our trip. It would be great if we see her again while we pass her home. That’s one thing we really enjoy about our walks, the lovely and interesting people we meet along the way.
As we neared the place where we saw the delivery man earlier, Graham spotted a barn with and old cart inside. Obviously he had to go and explore so I took this opportunity to sit on a rock and rest, as by this time I was exhausted. Graham may have little legs, but he can walk very fast when he wants to! The old cart actually turned out to be two carts, one on it’s wheels with the other upturned on top having had it’s wheels removed. There was also an old style hand plough which would have been pulled by a horse at some stage. As Graham likes history he was in his element. As we neared Punnets Town having accurately navigated the route without a map we followed the road we should have taken at the very beginning of the walk, which bypassed the windmill. This put us onto the main road through Punnetts Town, but sadly our car could be seen in the lay-by and it was further up the road than we thought. Funny how these things look further away when you are worn out! Once we reached the car, off came the shoes, down came the roof, time to cool off and relax.
Ringmer to Eastbourne railway station – 5th September 2020
We set off from home at 08.05 and the weather was set to be dry all day, perfect walking conditions. This time Graham’s friend Kev decided to join us, they have known each other since their school days so that is going back quite a long time! They have both completed a walk from Lewes To Eastbourne before but it was my first time and I have been looking forward to this particular walk for a while now, but due to the Covid 19 outbreak we had to put the walk off until today.
We took a slight detour from our planned route to Glynde, this was not only to keep us off the road but also because the Southdowns route was far more scenic. This section we have walked before so we knew about the steep hill taking us up onto the Southdowns way. We decided to take a short rest halfway up to catch our breath, it is amazing how a rest for one or two minutes can work wonders at rejuvenation. We passed two ladies walking their dogs, the spaniel was full of energy and as a Graham started to climb onto the style the dog jumped up and through the gap like a bullet between Graham’s leg and the post! The dog owner apologised but we laughed it off saying that ‘ we only wish we had the same energy’.
The views you get from the Southdowns way are beautiful and worth the climb up to the top just to stand and take in the miles of beautiful landscape.
When we reached Glynde village I had to pop in to feed Kitunia; a gorgeous cat I have been feeding for a few days whilst her owners were unavailable. She has the best purr I have ever heard and is absolutely adorable. After Feeding, cleaning, playing with her and of course the big cuddles, I set off to meet up with Graham and Kev at Glynde bridge a short distance up the road. Glynde is a very pretty village and if ever you are in the area I recommend that you visit Glynde Place. https://www.glynde.co.uk/glynde-place/hello
The next section of our walk was also challenging ……The hill which takes us from Firle village up to Firle Beacon we have done before and we all knew exactly what to expect. I have decided I will name it Devil’s Hill because that’s exactly what it is. We also knew from past experience that if we stop occasionally on the way up just for a minute at a time, this is all that is required to boost our energy and catch our breath. Halfway up Kev decided he was getting too hot and wanted to zip his trouser legs off and convert them into shorts. He was getting in quite a muddle with them and it was such a funny sight, if you were a stranger viewing the scene from a distance you would have wondered what he was doing. This had us in fits of laughter. I don’t think a Kev saw the funny side though.
When we reached the top of ‘Devil’s Hill’ we took a break on a bench for something to eat and drink. It felt good to rest our feet and get our breath back. Whilst we were taking a break I realised that I had left my fleece at Kitunia’s house in Glynde! Well, we certainly were not going to go back and get it now. Besides we were rather hot and sweaty by this point so the fleece was not required and Graham offered to let me wear his if it became chilly. What a gentleman he is!
It was busy as we continued on across the Southdowns way. Lots of people out walking dogs or walking with family and friends. There were also a fair few cyclists too, some of whom speed past us at a rate of knots if any of them fell off their bike it could cause some serious damage. There were lots of sheep up here today too just grazing and taking no notice of anyone. Sheep are great aren’t they. I always think they look lacking in intelligence but then they give you that look as if to say ‘I am smarter than you think!’
As we were approaching Alfriston the grass disappeared and the ground became a more gravel/stone footing. Not the best surface to walk on but all part of hiking and you do get used to it. Alfriston is a beautiful village and we were looking forward to lunch in one of it’s cosy tea rooms. We have visited Alfriston many times before and always enjoy it, this time was not for browsing the little independent shops though. Just time for lunch and nothing else as we had a destination to reach. As we were entering the village we noticed two amazing wooden horses in someone’s garden, we just had to take a photo to share with you all. Our favourite tea room in Alfriston has to be Badgers tea house https://www.badgersteahouse.com/menu/ the staff are lovely and the food is delicious, as for the decor we just cannot fault it, even in these strange times with social distancing everything worked well. Highly recommended.
To leave Alfriston and set off on the next part of our walk we had to cross a sweet little bridge with two beautiful swans passing gently down the river Cuckmere. There is a charming walk that you can take along the river if you so wish, it is a gentle stroll. There was a lovely sign at the bridge entrance directing you the way.
We continued on down a track which looked fine at first, quite nice in fact. However, the track started to climb and every time we rounded a bend it was still climbing so onwards and upwards we continued. ‘One foot in front of the other’ Kev told me encouraging me to keep going. How is it that Kev never once looked worn out! He made the climb look so easy with every step he took, but as a reasonably strong woman I can assure you it was exhausting. Up, up and up again it was never ending. When we reached the top though we all felt a sense of great satisfaction and were very pleased with ourselves. A great team effort!
The views are really worth every step of this hike. Absolutely wonderful and they can make you feel quite insignificant amongst this landscape. After such a long climb this next part was far easier on our legs. We were now heading towards Eastbourne Golf Course. We decided to stop for a short rest to have quick snack and a drink. These small breaks are essential to keep you going on a long walk such as this, they work miracles.
It was a great feeling to come across the 3.5 mile sign to Eastbourne but even more exciting was seeing Eastbourne itself come in to view, what a sight for sore eyes. We were thrilled, especially me as I had never completed this walk before and it was a bit of a challenge to say the least. Both Graham and Kev were very encouraging and made me even more certain that I could achieve this.
Some say that Eastbourne is for people of a certain age, well we are at that certain age and Graham and I both like to stroll along it’s seafront quite regularly. Today however there was no time to stroll along the promenade as we needed to reach the rail station to catch a train back to Lewes. My right ankle was starting to feel sore but apart from that we were all fine until I stood still waiting in the queue for a rail ticket! My right calf muscle became very painful. Luckily our train was there waiting for us so we hopped aboard and found some vacant seats. Unfortunately we had lost Kev on the platform….how did we manage that? Well, Kev got on the correct platform but the one Graham and I were sitting on had a wait time of 30 mins for the next train to Lewes. Thankfully we realised this in time and managed to get on the train that was about to leave. I had to make a quick phone call to Kev to let him know where we were and he took a little stroll through the carriages and found us easy enough. The three musketeers were together again.
The next decision was do we walk home from a Lewes or not……..Not on your nelly! So we hopped in a taxi to take us home to Ringmer village. I think 19 miles is enough walking for today.