Walk completed August 16, 2014

Thursday, July 10, 2014

July 10, 2014 -- Day 25, Amberley to Bramber, 13 miles

I’ve been so busy exploring the past two days (not to mention laundering, blogging, eating and drinking), that I didn’t have time to enjoy the tea room at my B&B. I’ve had breakfast there, of course, but the mornings are too cool to sit outside. Today, as I was getting ready to leave, I noticed that the riverside garden was planted to a tropical motif. Apparently this part of England rivals the tropics for temperature and precipitation. I didn’t see any hula girls, but they were probably preparing a luau in my honor.

Tropical plants

Amberley from South Downs Way

Today’s walk started as they all seem to do, with an uphill climb to regain the escarpment that runs along the downs. Everyone was predicting rain today (well, at least the locals were), because a heavy cloud cover hung overhead, and high winds blew from the west. Fortunately, I’m heading east, so generally the wind was at my back. At this point, the South Downs Way is never more than a few miles from the sea (the English Channel) to the south, but the coastal communities were obscured in the darkness.

Grains (wheat and barley) and grasses are farmed on one side of the path, while sheep and cattle graze on the other. Perhaps because it was morning, or perhaps due to the wind, but a herd of cattle I passed had arranged themselves with the calves all hunkered down in a tight group, encircled by grazing cows all facing outward. I don’t believe there are any predators in the downs, but the scene reminded me of pioneers circling the wagons.

Cows encircling calves

It’s not very often that locals stop me, but Robin did. He went on to point out landmarks on the horizon, much like a park ranger might do. Robin is from nearby Tillington, and is understandably enthusiastic about sharing the scenery in his own backyard. Thanks, Robin, I do appreciate the tour.


Later, I came upon John and Bob, from Devon and West Sussex, respectively. They described themselves as former Royal Navy buddies, both having enlisted at age 15, having received their commissions together, and having retired together. Now in their upper 70’s (WAY upper 70’s) they’re out walking the South Downs Way together. They pretended to be in a hurry because of the impending rain, but considering the navy yarn they were spinning, I don’t think they were in much of a hurry.

John and Bob

Simon and Helen, from Swindon, and I played tortoise and hare most of the morning. I passed them shortly out of Amberley, and they passed me when I stopped to talk with Robin. I passed them again, and they passed me when I was stopped by the Navy. I finally caught them again, and got a photo.

Simon and Helen

The South Downs Way seems to have drinking water taps conveniently spaced to allow topping off of water bottles. I don’t recall seeing that on other national trails, but the SDW is the first national bridleway, and perhaps the water is for horses as well as people and dogs. Funny, though, only some of the taps have horse troughs.

Water tap (no horse trough)

Due to the limestone base of the downs, there is no standing water. In the mid-1800s, shepherds and ranchers built “dew ponds” with an impermeable lining in order to capture water for the livestock. Over time, other wildlife became dependent upon the water sources, and now the local community is restoring the ponds to benefit the wildlife.


Dew Pond

Stone circles are everywhere in England. Chanctonbury Ring, along the SDW, is an iron-age earthwork that was planted with trees in 1760. Many of the trees were damaged by a storm in 1987, when it was discovered that the Romans built a temple there in the 4th century AD. Presently, it’s a pleasant park, with spectacular views down the escarpment. I didn’t see any stones, but perhaps they were deeper into the woods.


Shortly before leaving the SDW for Bramber (and my hotel), I met Joel, from Brighton, who has been able to take a few days out of a busy schedule to walk a portion of the SDW. Finding a few days for a walk doesn’t seem to be one of my problems, but I’m still working on finding somebody to carry my pack. Are you still reading, Dexter?


Reminder: Click on any image to enlarge.

© 2014 Ken Klug


  1. Amberly is a good place for me to retire map 2. Beautiful area. Even with the clouds, sounds like you stayed dry.


  2. Tropical garden, go figure?! Beautiful surrounding with just the right amount of light. Look so moist compared to our dehydration.
    Have a great week end.