Mary & Richard Atkinson
July 24th to August 2nd 2008 – Winchester to Eastbourne
It was an amazing challenge – and my husband, Richard and I, managed it with only one or two blisters between us! As we finished there were tears in my eyes because I felt so proud of myself and had enjoyed such a refreshing time in the fresh air surrounded by nature. The signposting was great (apart from Winchester where we got lost before we had even begun!) and we found the noticeboards very helpful. We were surprised at how few people we actually met on the trail but all very so friendly and we had great fun exchanging tales of hills that we had struggled up and down!
Best accommodation: Definitely the Youth Hostel at Alfriston where we enjoyed one of the most substantial breakfasts ever.
Best tip: We found it helpful to meet a friend at a half way point as she helped boost morale (and also took our dirty washing home!).
Best view: Seven Sisters, even on a wet and misty day.
Best Book: South Downs Way by Jim Manthorpe.
Scariest moment: Walking through a field of cows and spotting the bull.
Most embarrassing moment: Realising that my quiet ‘pee’ stop was actually not as secluded as I had imagined.
Best Buy: Compeed Blister Relief
Resolutions: To find out more about wild flowers so I can name them next time, and to walk the SDW the other way.
Plod on, plod on ‘cross Downland sod
Through fields, o’er stiles, plod on
With ancient hedgerow to grace my steady pace,
Rucksack heavy on my hips
Lightened by blackberry sweet on my lips
Golden corn soaks up the morning sun
Nourishes nature and a sense of ‘one’
Mind free to roam like a bird in flight
New paths to tread, new directions to explore
So plod on, plod on and let the spirit soar.
The land lies before you, far and wide
No person to see, no place to hide
You stand alone to face the world
No judgement, blame or cold word hurled
All pretence can fall, your mask unfurl...
But look nearer, nearer still, until
You enter in the secret lives of butterflies
Hovering over farmyard dung
A magic place where coded songs are sung
And shiny strings on cobwebs strung
This countryside, they say, is good for soul
So plod on..plod on...
And look far, look near and you will find
Both come together to make you whole.