Comedian, author, playwright, musical librettist, actor and director Ben Elton who has been a Patron of FSH since 2007 lives near this section of the Trail and I was delighted to get his message of support.
Ben has compered two very successful Summer Concerts for FSH and promoted the cause on radio.
Another beautiful morning – clear blue sky, not too hot, perfect walking weather. I set off from Uckfield Bus Station after being greeted and interviewed there by Mike Skinner for Uckfield FM. The local radio station is a wonderful supporter of FSH and has always been very generous in giving me air time to raise awareness about hospice care and promote our fundraising events.
Walking through the Bellbrook Business Estate – one or two units were quiet but on the whole it appeared to be business as usual. About two thirds of the way along the estate the delicious aroma of bacon wafted towards me from Mandy’s Snack Van. I stopped and chatted briefly to Avanda and Daisy, the instigators of this aroma, who kindly offered me some refreshments which I politely declined, fighting an inner voice that was just crying out for a bacon sarni.
Uckfield is my local town so I feel I know it and many of the businesses there well. Just walking through the Business Estate I saw many companies that have supported FSH over many years. FSH is a member of the Uckfield Chamber of Commerce which, as a group, has been hugely supportive.
Having crossed the very busy A22 and a stile, I found myself in a lush green field – such a contrast to the busy industrial/commercial estate I left moments before, the only reminder being the hum of heavy traffic.
Although relatively well trodden, the paths between the fields here were quite overgrown with bracken, brambles and nettles. I started out taking a walking stick on my walks but found it cumbersome and I can’t say I’ve needed one until now.
This part might possibly be more overgrown by the time of the Walk the Hospice Trail event in October so I made a note to alert walkers on this section to bring a stick ….. and avoid wearing shorts!
The scenery around Buckham Hill was stunning and I passed through fields of corn, barley, wheat and broad beans.
Whilst walking on a chalk path around a field I thought how precious the lumps of chalk on the path edges would have been to me as a child. We were always desperate for chalk, often using crumbling red brick, to draw out our hopscotch lines on the tarmac yard.
Walking across a meadow just after Buckham Hill, clouds of grasshoppers shot into the air with every step I took – there must have been thousands of them. There were also lots of different butterflies and one very pretty pair twirled and danced ahead of me as I walked. Grasshoppers and butterflies are very difficult to capture on film – even when I thought I’d got a decent shot of some, the result just looked like a bunch of haystalks, so well camouflaged were they.
Further along I stopped to watch a weir in a tree shaded part of the River Ouse. The path ran alongside the river for a short way and on parting from it led me into a heavenly golden meadow. The warmth of the sun felt good after the cool shade. I thought about how people used to walk everywhere before the invention of bicycles and motor cars – unless you were wealthy enough to possess a horse. I remember reading the diary of Thomas Turner – a shopkeeper who lived in East Hoathly in the mid 1700s and being amazed at the distances he’d walk. Although he’d sometimes borrow a horse, he regularly walked miles to neighbouring towns and villages. There didn’t seem to be any urgency to get anywhere.
I stopped and sat on the edge of a bridge over a stream and refuelled with a protein bar and some water. I heard the cry of a bird which I was pretty sure was a buzzard. My Chirp app didn’t concur with my deduction but the options it suggested really didn’t match. On checking the call of a buzzard on Google, I’m quite certain that is what I heard. It was such a lovely tranquil spot so I sat for a little while meditating…..going within ……..letting go.
On leaving the bridge I crossed several fields before reaching the beautiful church of St. Mary’s Newick. There were some very well tended, ancient and interesting tombstones surrounding it. I tried to go inside the church but it was closed.
Another of FSH Patrons lives in Newick- Baroness Cumberlege, who has been at the centre of healthcare policy for decades, chairing national Reviews and acting as a Government spokesperson in the House of Lords. Julia has been a great ambassador for FSH and she and she and husband Paddy are very supportive of our events.
I continued through some playing fields across the lane and met up with Daisy, a four month old, blue and tan, German Shepherd and her “pet parent” Sue. I’d not heard that description before and was amused by it. Daisy appeared to be frightened of the skateboarders, who were performing dazzling acrobatics on the purpose built ramps…… Daisy wasn’t impressed.
A few more fields led me to the A272 along which I walked for almost a mile, passing the Chailey Stud Equestrian Centre, to the Cafe marking the end of this walk.
This section of the Trail was generously sponsored and tracked by Hugh Thwaites in appreciation of the excellent work done by St Peter & St James Hospice.