Green fields and blue skies on the South Downs Way

Harvest Time

24th August 2015

Over the last week I found myself in Winchester again. This time looking at signage and route improvements with Winchester City Council. We were also looking at placement and design for a new end marker in the city. I know this is something that many people contact us about. There is without doubt a real need for a focal point for weary travelers to record their achievement. So we’re working on it! King Alfred’ Statue is the official stat / end point, so we want to put something up near the statue, the problem is that the whole area is within a conservation area and whatever we do need the approval of the Districts planning conservation officers.

It’s also been a busy couple of weeks on the trail, with both walkers and ridders but also farmers. The Harvest is in full swing. Many crops have now been cut. Last weekend was largely dry so the last fields were cut before this week’s rain. This does mean that you may well see more tractors, bailers and combines along or next to the SDW. Please be careful and do give way. A years’ worth of work and their livelihood is at stake. Wet grain needs drying and this costs money and can be the difference between making a profit or not. A final work of caution about this time of year. Once the crop is safely away, the cut stubble is usually baled. These straw bales are extremely heavy, please don’t be tempted to climb, play or try and move any round bales, they could and sometimes do move. You don’t want to be squashed!

Our resident poet, Lizzie Ballagher, has been walking the SDW over the last few months. Last week she sent in a poem dedicated to all the great B&B hosts that provided home comforts along the way. This reminds me to say that if you own a B&B, hotel, hostel or campsite, please add yourself to our website. It’s Free! If you’re already on the site please make sure all your details are correct. You can manage all of your content yourself with a simple log-in. All existing entries should have been sent log-in details from Walk Unlimited, who manage the website. If you don’t have any log-in details, check your spam folder or contact me and we’ll get you sorted.

So here is Lizzie’ latest offering.

Beds & Breakfasts

Laid bare, unclasped below a southern sky,

The animal spine, the long curved line of Downs extends.

Walkers (insignificant insects under the sky’s immensity):

How shall they—how shall we—find shelter?


The South Downs Way unfolds its shining necklace

Under the steady beat of boot & foot, from Eastbourne

Over rolling ridge-top, scooped-out valley;

Over meandering rivers seeking the sea;

Over all the ribs of fine-boned bridges

That leap or span those brimming waters.


But look! Search here or there for signs

In hedgerows, or at corners, or on finger-posts,

And there are pearls to find along the path

From Eastbourne all the way to Winchester.


Here—now—let me count them on their necklace:

Sheila of Jevington, horses’ haven; Jean of Lewes, blessed

With nightingales; Lesley of Upper Beeding & Downsview fame;

Kate of sunlit Arun Valley Farm near Amberley;

Copper Beeches rich to see, with Janet of sweet Torberry;

And Suzanne of Corhampton: warm calmness is her name.


Gemstones, jewels (every one) under whose kind tents

We’re bedded & breakfasted, cosied & comforted & sent

To walk, walk, walk & cross the kissing-gates & stiles

All the way to Winchester along the century of miles.

© Lizzie Ballagher

If you like Lizzie' poems you can follow her work on her blog at

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King Alfred' Statue, Winchester