I should probably say something about my trip to Lewes to see the castle, but as I'm heading for Hastings and Battle today, I've decided to save that and talk about all the Norman Conquest stuff at once. Yesterday, I walked a bit of the South Downs Way, a trail that runs for about 100 miles between Eastbourne and Portsmith and Winchester. I didn't walk the whole thing of course, maybe about 6 miles of it total (3 out, then 3 back) from Beachy Head to Birling Gap, but oh my, what a walk.
The section of the trail around Eastbourne runs along a line of chalk cliffs (think The White Cliffs of Dover, only higher), and offers impressive views of the the downland and the sea. Yesterday morning was cool and misty, with a light fog hanging over the downs, what I consider to be perfect walking weather. The views weren't as good as they might have been on a clear day, of course, but I could still see quite a bit. The mist lent something of a magical air to the place (as did the realization that I was walking through an area of prehistoric settlement), and the trail was, thankfully, not crowded.
I walked as far a Birling Gap, which is little more than the site of a hotel, snack bar, and pub, but it also marks a gap in the cliffs where you can actually walk down to the beach. So, I strolled along the rocky coast for a bit and then sat and watched the waves for a while, before getting a pot of tea in the snack bar and heading back to my starting point of Beachy Head. I finished up with lunch in the pub (they do quite good steak and onion sandwiches) before catching the bus back into to town.
Lovely walk, if you ever get the chance to walk it yourself, take it.
Oh, and for those of you who are wondering about the title of this post, it's a Tolkien reference....