For over 20 years now I’ve tried to make the most of living near the South Downs in Sussex, with Tennyson’s lines becoming a bit of a mantra for me:
“You came, and looked and loved the view
Long-known and loved by me,
Green Sussex fading into blue
With one gray glimpse of sea.”
Living as I do at the top of what I’m fairly sure is the Biggest Hill in the Whole of Lewes I’m blessed in that I have a view just like that from some of the rooms in my house, and can be on the hills in less than a 3 minute walk from my front door. Sometimes I’ll even leave my house earlier than I have to just so I can divert my route onto them and spend a bit of time absorbing the benefits they offer – there’s something about the 360 degree space and rolling green that can’t be conveyed photographically, but which resets my brain. Having lived in a lot of places without this I never forget how lucky I am.
For the past few years I’ve worked in Brighton, around 8 miles door to door by road, though occasionally I’ll walk home over the Downs, which is closer to 11 miles, slightly more if I take a short break in the pub in the village of Kingston on the way through, sometimes a temptation too big to ignore. This morning, waking early and with the promise of a lovely day, I decided to walk in to the office.
It was total darkness when I left my house, and I’d dropped down through Nevill and Winterbourne Hollow up to the Swan without encountering any cars or people – in fact, it was about 5 miles in before I saw anyone else, a lone mountain biker enjoying the countryside as much as I was.
By the time I reached Ashcombe windmill the sun was brightening the sky and the frost that had surprised me in feeling it underfoot was now glinting, while the only sound was a cacophony of birds and waking farm animals all around.
There was a mist now visible too, glowing a pale blue between Mount Caburn and Firle Beacon, as slowly pink and orange clouds started to appear in what had been a totally clear night sky.
By the time I reached Kingston Ridge the sun was starting to come up fully from behind Caburn – the kind of stunning sunrise which reminds you why getting up early can often be a very good thing. Stopping briefly to take some photos I was amazed, as I always am, but just how far you can see from this spot.
Then on towards the Castle Hill nature reserve, Seaford Head in the distance just starting to creep out of the mist, and dropping down into Woodingdean, then along the seafront from Brighton to Hove under a perfect blue sky, and into work.
It’s not a bad way to get to the office, and while I’m changing jobs soon I’ll still be doing my best to make sure I’m on the hills as much as possible.
I just wanted to say thanks too for visiting my blog – I was surprised this week to see I’m getting over 700 visitors most months. That’s a spur to make sure I update it more often than I have been doing 🙂