Setting off from Battle Station I walked up past Battle Abbey. It was a bit of a grey start but the cloud was lifting and the sun was beginning to break through.
I walked along Battle High Street and through the residential area of Netherfield. I liked looking at houses and people’s gardens and imagining myself living in them. I’ve lived in assorted accommodation throughout my life; a council flat, a tiny two room rental over the noisy Commercial Road in London, flats, then a house in Chelsea and now a lovely house and garden here in Sussex. It’s amazing how we adapt to the space we’re in though I doubt I’d adapt so well to living in a tiny flat over the Commercial Road now! I love the peaceful countryside and the space and freedom I have here in Sussex: I love Sussex!
As I progressed up a long hill the houses became larger and grander and I was soon walking through green fields.I had expected the footpaths to be overgrown with nettles and brambles as it was the middle of July but possibly, as a result of lockdown, more people have been out walking the footpaths and bridleways, as they were all well trodden and clear. Also, because there’s been little rain, they are mostly dry and quite easy to walk.
I walked across an old golf course which was now a wild flower meadow and saw a flight of five silver magpies which made me smile. Walking down through Burnthouse Wood, the dappled sun was coming through onto the path. The guide notes said the paths here were beautiful but a bit neglected but I think there must have been a bit of a spring clean as the paths were clear.
At the top of this wood I joined a Zoom meeting of the FSH East Sussex Fundraising Committee on my phone. It was so good to catch up and share my progress with everyone. Once again, I was amazed at how easy it was to connect up from the middle of nowhere……beam me up Scotty!
Some rain overnight had left the paths a bit slippery and I imagine this could be very muddy with prolonged rain. The rain had left a lovely fresh smell and the greenery looked fresh and alive.
The trail took me across part of a gypsum quarry next to the railway line where I saw some very arty looking railway sleepers wouldn’t look out of place in Tate Modern. Gypsum was discovered here in the 1800s and ore is still mined today.
Continuing up through some fields full of sheep and their adolescent lambs. One hungry young thug, almost the same size as its mum, ferociously head-butted her undercarriage seeking its lunch – mum didn’t bat an eyelid and happily acquiesced.
The rolling hills of the pastoral landscape were incredibly beautiful and the perimeter paths of the wheat fields had been beautifully mown so that it made for very enjoyable and easy walking.
On reaching the 12th century All Saints church at Mountfield I walked around it, taking in the views of fields and woods across the valleys. It’s small church with a very warm, welcoming feel about it. Inside the stained glass window over the altar depicts a view of the valley complete with a tractor ploughing.
Inside the porch was the following invocation to me, the traveller:
Pause ‘ere thou enter, traveller and bethink thee,
how holy, yet how homelike, is this place;
Time that thou spendest here will link thee
with men unknown who were once of thy race.
This is thy Father’s house: to Him address thee,
who here His children worship face to face;
He at thy coming in peace will bless thee,
thy going out make joyful with His Grace.
I did indeed feel joyful and realised that, but for doing this walk, I’d probably never have seen that lovely little church.
From there a long driveway took me to the beautiful Mountfield Court which was built around 1715 by James Nicholl JP, then Sussex High Sheriff. Mountfield Court opens its gardens every year in aid of St Michael’s Hospice.
My walk continued through pastures and wound through a couple of tunnels under the railway line, eventually arriving at Robertsbridge Station.
The creation of this stretch of the trail was possible thanks to the support of Pashley Manor Gardens which has hosted several FSH events including some extremely successful and memorable summer concerts. Its owners, Jim and Angela Sellick, have been stalwart supporters of FSH, Angela is a Patron, and their hospitality and generosity over the past 25 years has been amazing. The splendid gardens at Pashley Manor are open to the public for a large part of the year. Its wonderful tulip festival draws thousands of visitors each year. Sadly, visitors couldn’t come and see the beautiful displays this year but it was seen on tv and local camera man, Sam Moore, put together a YouTube clip for FSH.