On Getting Soaked
This weekend I took my friend Julia out for her first hike! She's also German and also lives in London (WHAT are the odds I hear you scream) and is looking for a new hobby and (hold on to your hats) a fervent fan of this very blog – so she decided to give hiking a go! Plus a new hiking buddy for me, YAY! A big round of applause for Julia everyone.
We decided to go for the SWC hike from Amberley to Pulborough as it's a 6/10, so it would give us a good workout without being too knackering for her first walk. At 12 miles it's about 5.5 hours walking time, with an hour lunch break in the middle (which didn't quite go according plan – read on...) it's also just manageable in UK November daylight hours. So, getting a frightfully early 8.36 train to make the most of the short day, off we went!
The morning section of the walk is along a ridge on the South Downs Way which offers lovely wide views over West Sussex countryside, which was decidedly autumnal with most of the leaves now having turned red or orange. We remarked how nice it is to see dark clouds on the horizon and how nice that it's NOT raining (as per forecast WHICH being Germans of course we checked). The walk uphill was strenuous but not uncomfortably so – and led us steadily right into the middle of... a cloud of rain. So much for the weather forecast.
I actually love walking in the rain. It often feels a bit warmer when it's raining, and I love the sounds of rain falling on leaves in the woods with big drops falling down on me. Thankfully my raincoat and water-resistant trousers held up and I didn't get wet under them – so apart from ever more see-through walk instructions the weather did us no harm. No such thing as bad weather, etc etc. The only down point is I didn't take as many pictures as I might have otherwise!
After reaching the top of the Ridge along the South Downs Way we continued through a steep and beautifully bright orange and black wood – one of the loveliest wood sections I've found on my walks in the UK.
After the three hour morning section we were happy to arrive in Shapton at the lunch pub which was... CLOSED FOR REFURBISHMENT! Argh! I never bother to call ahead to see if the pub is indeed open for burger-making business before I plan the hike, so it can of course happen that the place is closed. Thankfully we both had enough snacks to tie us over until the end of the walk (this is why it's important to bring more food than you need) and decided to carry on to Pulborough to have a late lunch at the end of our walk. Here we did call ahead to book a table by the fireplace. I LOVE ENGLAND.
The afternoon section took us across tiny plank bridges, across fields and through more beautiful woods. What I love about this walk is how little civilisation you pass through: we saw maybe 10 country houses and about 3 other walkers all day. My idea of a good time! Walking along water is another big feature of this walk which follows and crosses small streams, leading into ponds and rivers. We finally arrived in Pulborough, now decidedly chilly and definitely feeling our legs, at 3.20pm, where we swiftly ordered well-deserved burgers. Thank you Julia for a wonderful day!