Green fields and blue skies on the South Downs Way

Back on the Blog!

22nd May 2015

What a crazy few weeks! So busy that this poor blog has been neglected!  No more, a slot has been added to by diary each Friday to try and tell you about what’s been happening or what to look out for on the SDW.

The last few weeks have seen me trying to gather data together to submit to Natural England for their National Trails Annual Report. It’s only when you have to do things like that you realise how much has actually been achieved. Over the last year we have resolved 242 separate maintenance issues along the trail, including installing 25 missing signposts, replacing a further 59 signposts and repairing 20 others. 18 new gates have been installed and 10 more repaired. In all our volunteers achieved over 400 days of work maintaining the trail.

The last few days have seen an explosion in vegetation growth and the mowing and cutting season is definitely here. The clearance along the trail is done by a combination of Local Authority staff, National Park Rangers, contractors and volunteers. Many kilometres get cut every year and some of the National Park rangers were out today to get stated. the wild flowers are out too. If you go out this weekend you'll still see carpets of Cow Slips in some places, especially above Firle in East Sussex and around The Long Man of Wilmington.

Have a good Bank Holiday weekend and if you get out on the trail tell us about it via twitter @southdownswaynt.

Here is the next poem from our poet in residence Lizzie Ballagher. You can read more of Lizzie poetry on her blog


Long Man of Wilmington                                              

That chieftain:

He was a man too bold to bury in the town.

His eyebrows bristled hedgerows

And from his smouldering face the black looks fell

Like a flock of rooks, a murder of crows.

Lime-kilns that were his smoking eyes flamed fear

In hearts of local country folk.

His arms were mighty corn-stooks bulging

From a lumpen neck, nipped in at crook of elbows;

His thick trunk stern & strong as seven sycamores;

His legs too long for some poor, paltry parish grave—

Nay! What he needed was

The whole sloping shoulder of the hillside,

The weathered, rough-edged ridge and dorsal spine

Of the long line

Of the Downs.


And so they hollowed out a mighty barrow;

Bore him up (those men of the town)

And, groaning, carried him (flesh and marrow)

Aloft to burial on the Downs’ high crest;

Interred him there beneath a flint-locked sky…

But carved his image on another cliff,

White chalk etched out of pagan darkness:

Giant over, and under, the hill.

And, afterwards, they gave him

(As a parting shot, or to appease him)

A pair of walking poles;

Then, on yet another top,

Later, a chalk-white steed;

So, if he minded, he might haul his bones up, heave the hill up,

Stride away, ride away & leave them

Standing in among their sacred stones.


                                                © Lizzie Ballagher


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Cow Slips out next the the South Downs Way near Firle Beacon
Volunteers finish installed a new signpost