4th May met Steve at the station and trained it to Burgess Hill, a little north of the Chalk hills and in the clay vale. We foolishly thought a week of dry weather would make the footpaths easy to walk, but we were wrong. We walked 6 miles that day, and I guess 4 of them were wet – from soft pasture to water covered mud. At one point, near Ditchling Common, the springs rising in a field made walking the footpath impossible. The ground shone with watery reflections and water rippled through the grass. Much of the day was spent pushing new routes through undergrowth and brambles parallel to the deeply muddy footpath, or worse – bridlepath.
But we had a good time – lots of wild flowers, and a really smart little flying insect which seemed happy to walk onto my hand and wait for Steve to get a picture.
See the exceptionally long antennae. See the old man wrinkled skin! The track leaving Burgess Hill was bounded on the north by 1960s housing, and new houses were going up on the south side as we passed. I guess the bluebells and wild garlic will gradually be driven out.
I’ve met several people who have friends who have left Brighton to get cheaper homes in Burgess Hill – I guess the demand is still there. We walked north past a dairy farm and a stud (where we saw a donkey and a llama, as well as more usual beasts) and then hopped east and headed south on a parallel route through West Wood
Some rather fine bluebells under coppiced hornbeams. The underlying wetness is indicated by the very shallow root plate on this wind-thrown coppice stool.
Soon we reached Blackbrook Wood where we found a coppiced species I had never seen before. Horse chestnut, not the traditional sweet chestnut grown and coppices for fencing, but a useless species for anything except firewood, I suspect. A simple mistake perhaps?
So we paddled through pastures to a pub at Plumpton Green for a pint before catching buses back to Brighton. Lovely day – sun on head, water in boots – who could ask for more?