I've just realised that I never posted this walk report! It's a 8.5km (5.5mi), 2-3 hour circular walk starting in Sedlescombe, East Sussex. I hope you enjoy the memories of warmer times . . .
The Brede valley sparkles in the sun after a late morning shower. All around us is evidence of seasonal change: blackberries ripening, sloe bushes crammed with purple berries, and young trees peppered with cobnuts and tiny acorns. We even find some giant puffball mushrooms, big as footballs, in the grass nearby.
But this jumble of late summer growth has its downside for walkers. Our way is soon blocked by undergrowth that seems intent on tormenting us: tangled brambles and dog rose, waist-high stinging nettles and the sharp spikes of thistle and teasel. I whip out the phone and report these obstructions to the Ramblers.
After battling the thorns, it’s a relief to find our way onto Brede Lane then to slip into the cool shade of Horn’s Wood. Dim, green light filters down (the leaves haven’t yet turned autumnal) and the fresh smell of damp wood suffuses the air. We pass a pile of timber, cross another road and continue, discovering tiny streams and catching flashes of Powdermill Reservoir through the trees.
The sighing of conifers in the wind ushers us along the edge of Brede High Woods. A couple of hours wandering through here could easily turn this walk into a full afternoon’s ramble. A sign informs us that wild Konik horses are grazing here to help “maintain the wildlife-rich mosaic of habitats” of the area . . . but we don't see any!
We keep an eye on the cumulus clouds blooming above us as we cross an open field and squeeze along a fence beside some attractive houses. A quick detour allows us to visit the peaceful parish church, but we don’t linger: it’s getting on for lunch and we know the chunky chips at the Queens Head are waiting. One of the problems doing a circular walk from a pub is the lure of food!
I can’t resist plucking a ripe plum from an overhanging branch as we make the easy downhill stroll back into pretty village of Sedlescombe. The scent of lavender wafts from a nearby garden and the village geese wander around the old pump house on the green. If this sounds rather idyllic, it is. Scratches and stings from our earlier run-ins with the local vegetation forgotten, we relax in the pub’s sunny beer garden and enjoy what might be the last of this summer’s warmth.
A version of this article first appeared in the Battle Observer (read all my articles for the Observer series here). I don't like to be a cliche of a UK-dweller, but I'm already dreaming of the long, warm, slow days of summer . . . the sound of leaves in the breeze . . . the tall grass tickling my legs as I walk . . . the sunshine soaking into the soil . . . ahhh!
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