After a few weeks of minimal walking, it was definitely time to get a couple of decent walks in and try and regain some lost ground. I’m conscious of the fact that the #walk1000miles challenge is supposed to be fun rather than something to beat myself up with, so I’m trying not to focus too much on the numbers and just enjoy all of the new things that I’m seeing from spending more time outside.
Sam set off for a game of tennis armed with a giant lemon drizzle cake (personally, I’m still wondering whether he was hoping to fill the opposition up before the match and prevent them from running!), and I set off for Chanctonbury Ring.
It’s one of my favourite walking spots, especially as it’s only a few miles away and has – for now – free parking in Steyning. There was sleet in the air and the weather was pretty dismal as I set off and I wasn’t expecting to have much/any of a view from the top but I was looking forward to a good leg stretch after spending all week sitting at my desk.As I started to climb up the hill, the sleet turned to snow, and I enjoyed wandering up through the woods where the whisper of snow falling through the trees was the only sound. Perhaps unsurprisingly, there didn’t seem to be anyone else about!As expected, the view from the ridge wasn’t brilliant, although it made a good stopping off point for a quick lunch of carrot and coriander soup accompanied by almost-warm toast. I’d also pulled a chocolate and chickpea blondie out of the freezer before I left, so tucked that into my pocket to eat on the go.
(As an aside – the blondies are super tasty! They’re made with chickpeas instead of flour, and are gluten, dairy, and ‘sugar’ free. They are however made with maple syrup which in my book is pretty much the same thing. I didn’t make them for any health benefit, I just wanted to use up some cheap dark chocolate, had a spare tin of chickpeas in the cupboard, and felt like an experiment. Definitely one to repeat.)I also met another lone wanderer who very kindly took a picture of me and the ‘view’.I didn’t stay on the South Downs Way, but instead turned onto the Monarch’s Way, another long distance path. It follows the approximate route taken by Charles II after his defeat at the Battle of Worcester, running from Worcester to Brighton. We’ve walked a few local sections of the trail over the past couple of years, and I’d quite like to explore it further as I think it passes through some interesting countryside.
Unlike last week, it wasn’t really ideal weather for wildlife spotting, but I was perfectly happy with this wonderfully woolly sheep who followed me along the fence for quite a distance. I think she must have been able to smell the cake!Following the Monarch’s Way, I dropped down onto the other side of the Downs and passed through low-lying farmland, before turning to head back up the hill to rejoin the South Downs Way. The visibility was really poor, and the only splashes of colour came from the gorse bushes at the side of the path.The approach to Chanctonbury Ring was very strange; although I knew I was nearly there, I couldn’t see it at all until it suddenly loomed out of the cloud right in front of me.As I began to walk back towards Steyning, the cloud lifted so that I could enjoy the wintery landscape. I’d taken longer than I’d planned on the top, so had to set a brisk pace to get back to the car and home in time to watch the rugby – although in hindsight, I wish I hadn’t bothered!The total route was just over nine miles which helped reduce my deficit slightly. I managed another six miles on Sunday, taking in one of our easy routes along the Downs Link to Henfield, with a (muddy) detour along the river. The day was overcast and grey, although there was no snow in sight.
It’s been a couple of weeks since we were last on the Downs Link, and in our absence it seems that the political activists have taken over…Personally, I think setting off for a walk equipped with a permanent marker and some campaign slogans is rather odd (the other side of the gate said “Spring is in the air, but where is Brexit?!”) – I think I’ll just stick to my packed lunches and camera!