Wealdway – Day 4

Stone Cross to Buxted

Distance: 32.0 km

Steps: 46,573

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Manor Court Farm B&B at Stone Cross, Ashurst is a first class, spick and span, nice establishment. Comfy bed, powerful shower and hearty breakfast. Sue collects the breakfast eggs fresh each morning from their own chickens. Yes, I would recommend it to my friends.

I was back on the trail by 08:30 and headed south to cross under the railway via the bridge by Ashurst station.

 

Here, just by the bridge, I found a candlelit memorial to 25 year old soldier Toby Crundwell, who was sadly struck by a train and killed. He had returned to see his family on leave from a tour of duty in Iraq.

The Wealdway meanders here across a flood plain. I crossed many footbridges and passed Summerford Farm to reach the Forest Way Cycle Path, which runs dead straight east-west towards Hartfield. Not part of the Wealdway, in fact it is at 90 degrees to it, but I turned right in search of a shop or similar.

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The Forest Way carries on west, but I left it after 2 km at Hartfield and went in search of something to put in my pack for lunch. I found a proper farm shop and stocked up with cheese and biscuits.

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Now, I could have backtracked and rejoined the Wealdway but that always seems a bit negative to me so I found a more interesting route on the map, via Withyham, across the fields of the Buckhurst Estate. By the map it looked about the same distance but I missed a turning and ended up a long way up a private farm road, definitely off course.

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I was grateful to a farmer on a quad bike with his dog, who came to my aid with local directions. In my defence, the turning I had missed was hugely overgrown and not marked in any way. Once back on track I made good time heading generally south for about 6 km through High Weald and the Ashdown Forest. I passed through the Five Hundred Acre Wood (of Winnie the Pooh fame). I never did find the Poohsticks Bridge but emerged onto heathland just after midday.

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A concrete road crossed my track and curiosity got the better of me. I reckoned it had to lead to something interesting, otherwise why put it there. These metal lid things, each about a metre square were set into the ground and quietly humming. When kicked they resonated with a deep ‘boing’ sound. Under the heathland here there must be a cavernous space. A discrete notice explained that this is a Reservoir Transducer Check Manual Measurement Point. It’s not on the map.

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It was approaching lunchtime and ahead I could see Camp Hill on the skyline. The most elevated spot for miles around, at 198 metres, this seemed like a good prospective venue for my packed lunch.

 

Camp Hill Clump has a couple of dozen trees, three benches, nice views over East Sussex and curious cattle wandering about. I had company for lunch but they moved on before I did.

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Still heading south, I set off for the village of Fairwarp. This section of the Wealdway has intermittent waymarking and one critical waymark disc has been removed from its post. I followed a variety of tracks and roads which led me to the grand gates of Oldlands Hall near Fairwarp. I investigated the village amenities then carried on towards Buxted. The trail here takes many turns and after about 1 km enters Furnace Wood. This is a spooky, wierd, dark woods. Lots of dead trees and gnarly old roots.

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On the far side of the woods is Hendall Manor Farm. Then at Wood Cottage I was confronted by a dog, enthusiastically protecting his territory. He was not interested in making friends so I carried on walking. From here on it was mostly (busy) road walking to Buxted, from where I caught a train back to London and home. Proper in the country, Buxted, only a single, reversible track. And the train pulled by a burbling diesel loco 🙂

 

 

 

 

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72 – Cawsand to Looe

Distance walked: 15km

Steps: 29,764

Cawsand is a beautifully maintained, quaint Cornish village but a bit of a ghost town mid-week. Jack was the only person under 50 that we saw. 


The path leaves Cawsand from the corner of the town square and for 2km rises gently through woodland to Penlee Point. 


We saw the biggest and oldest beech tree halfway up the hill. 

It was a foggy morning with a constant accompaniment of ships’ fog horns from Plymouth Sound. 

Penlee Battery is now a nature reserve. There are some interesting structures left behind. From here onwards, mostly it rained for the rest of the day. We turned west and continued uphill to the lookout station at Rame Head. The path gets a bit indistinct around here so we followed some horses who seemed to know where they were going. For the next 5km the path meanders amongst vacant wooden chalets and summerhouses, waiting optimistically for the summer. 


Then we reached the firing range at Tregantle Fort. 


The red flags weren’t flying so we ignored the sound of automatic weapons and took the ‘permissive’ route across the range. 


2km on Tarmac brought us to the Fillygook Inn at Catchole, from where we got a cab to Looe. 



We stayed with Peter from Orpington at the Dolphin B&B, a very tidy esablishment. In the evening, Jack treated us to a nice traditional meal from the Moonlight Tandoori. 

70 – Plymouth to Heybrook Bay

Distance: 11km
Steps: 22,769

  
We got the 10:06 from Paddington, arriving in Plymouth three hours later. Jack took the opportunity to  catch up on sleep during the journey. 

From Plymouth railway station we walked south in glorious sunshine to the Hoe, where we joined the SW coastal path. The path led us neatly to the Mountbatten Ferry. 

     

 If you’re paying close attention you’ll have realised that we’re going the wrong way. But I need to get back to the Eddystone Inn at Heybrook Bay to pick up where I left off last time.

The path here goes up and up from ferry level to 125m elevation at Staddon Fort, where we found this intriguing rusty disc, high on the cliff top 

  

Soon we were looking down on the derelict buildings of Bovisand Pier at Staddon Point 

  

The path goes through the largely uninhabited Bovisand Estate then follows the cliff top past a beacon and on to Heybrook Bay. A fine evening meal in the Eddystone  Inn. 

 
Where the landlady kindly booked us some B&B with Phil in Wembury, the next village. Very nice establishment, clean and tidy with a powerful shower. 

  
Jack got the futon. 

68 -Beacon Point to Noss Mayo

Distance: 16km

Steps: 37,020

Blooming weather! During the night, the wind grew increasingly fierce (gusting to 50mph) and the rain came with it. My carabiners and tent pegs held the canvas firmly to the ground but the wind stole the tentpole at the head end. So there I was, under soaking wet canvas, with the wind flapping it in my face all night. I think I slept for an hour between 3:30am and 4:30am. Character building stuff. At 4:30am I gave up trying to sleep and packed my kit away, all but the sodden basher. I waited for the dawn, which came late, then wrestled the basher into a bag and strode out towards the River Erme.

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The River Erme estuary is about 500 metres wide at Wonwell Beach and when I reached it at 8:00am, the sea was cliff to cliff and the surf was up. Nobody was surfing but they could have been. All indications are that the Erme can be crossed on foot by wading at low tide, so I had three hours in hand. The village of Kingston is just 2 miles inland, so I set out in search of refreshment. Kingston is uphill all the way and at 9:00am on a weekday morning it’s closed and deserted.2504109_1d6a7e0b

The Dolphin Inn opens at midday but the laundry room door stood ajar so I nipped in and plugged in my phone to charge. I spread my wet kit out on a picnic table in the sun to dry. “Punch! Punch!” shouted someone, well, two someomes, both of whom claimed to be the licensee. They kind of lost interest in me when I explained I wasn’t Punch but said to make myself at home in the laundry room.

Back at the Erme at 11:00am and the sea had subsided, leaving a stream, 20 metres wide. With my boots hung around my neck by their laces, I waded barefoot across. The bottom is stony and unkind to bare feet but only knee deep and I managed to stay upright. I rested on a rock on the west bank, in the sunshine and dozed off.

There followed 6km of cliff top walking. On my way up from Bugle Hole I stopped to chat with two ladies who had come from Minehead (surely not this morning?). They recommended The Ship in Noss Mayo. With still 8km before Noss Mayo, this was looking like it could be a late lunch.noss

I made very slow progress that afternoon and recognised feelings of exhaustion in myself. Lack of sleep the night before. I’d allowed for emergency inland escape routes on this section of the path but this didn’t yet quite rate as an ’emergency’ so I carried on to Stoke Cross, about a mile from Noss Mayo. It was 5:00pm when I reached The Ship.

STATEMENT: Noss Mayo is the friendliest village on the planet.

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lisaI was a bit self-conscious of my rucksack and muddy boots as I entered the Ship at restaurant level. They do great food and drink but sadly no B&B. Lisa was onto this immediately and had me booked in with Jackie and Phil at Worswell Farmhouse in under a minute. Thank you. Thanks also to the barmaid who discretely woke me up so whilst my meal was still warm.

Phil Rogers kindly collected me from the pub, door-to-door service. Can’t top that. Jackie and Phil were most welcoming, and my bed was so comfortable. Worswell Farmhouse is the most hospitable B&B you could hope to find. Jackie even hung up my wet basher to be dry by morning. Zzzzzzzzz…….