Summer on the Downs

Downs

Whilst the official start of summer in the UK isn’t for a few weeks, I always think that June 1st has a symbolic, start of season feel to it.

And, as if in agreement with this sentiment, what a glorious day it was – warm, but not too warm and accompanied by a gentle breeze to propel the fluffy clouds across the sky.

We decided it was a good excuse for a walk and were once again thankful that we live in such a lovely spot, a location where we can leave our home on foot and be in open countryside all within about 15 minutes. And that’s with kids in tow.

The walk involved a steady climb up a footpath, flanked by vegetation, before emerging onto the crest of a hill with spectacular views over the town of Lewes and on to the chalk cliffs and hills beyond. It is a view that is well worth the effort.

Once there, a gentle stroll along the ridge, through fields that are devoted to farm animals at this time of year, before descending back down via some meandering paths before returning to the town again.

In fact, today’s walk has become something of a favourite since returning to live in the area. I must have walked it on dozens of occasions, at all times of year and in all weather conditions.

In autumn, the hedgerows alongside the path offer up a bounty of blackberries to passers-by, before the leaves on the trees and bushes turn a spectacular array of reds, browns, purples, yellows and oranges as the majesty of autumn begins.

In winter, it can be a little nippy up at the top, but it is also spectacular when the trees are covered in frost or even, as was the case last year, when snow turns the sloping fields into a tobogganers dream.

In spring, the transformation is rapid. One week, the trees are stark and leafless, the next week everything starts to come out. Every week thereafter it seems as if something new is growing, flowering or sprouting.

But today was (almost) summer and it again had a character of its own.

The pathway was a bit overgrown, with nettles and brambles adding a few challenges on the way up, but once at the top, we discovered it must be lambing season with the fields full of sheep wandering around with newly born lambs in tow, also savouring the view.

All of a sudden, into this bucolic scene a group of horse riders appeared, touching their hats to us as they passed by. It couldn’t have been much more archetypically English if it tried.

The walk left me looking forward to the summer ahead, whilst also being thankful for having such ever-changing natural beauty on my doorstep.

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