Autumn is my favourite season of the year, and with it’s arrival upon us I couldn’t wait to get out into the countryside that surrounds me. With the rare luxury of a free afternoon ahead of us, my partner and I (with baby wrapped up against the wind) set out across the rolling downs to the village of Glynde. This is a rather energetic walk due to a few steep hills, but the views from the open downland definitely make the effort worthwhile.
We began our walk in Lewes and climbed onto the downs via Chapel Hill, a winding and rather steep hill that leads you past sweet terraced cottages. Look out for cars speeding down from the Golf Club at the peak of the hill, and stick to the path on the right for sweeping panoramic views of Lewes. It is worth the climb, for once you pass the Golf Club and make your way through gate, it is as if you have stepped into another world, with the town left far behind you. Follow the well-trod path to the left, and head down towards the Sussex Bottoms. Don’t forget to look at the life still blossoming around your feet.
The scudding clouds cast long shadows across the sloping land around us. As we walked past the Sussex Bottoms, we could make out the ridges of the old field systems on the nearby hills.
The walk then enters the Mount Caburn reserve, an area of ancient chalk grassland, which contains the bronze-age Caburn hill-fort. It’s possible to explore the remarkably preserved defensive ditches and ramparts that surround the summit of the Mount (which in actual fact is only 480ft high). This is a wonderful spot for nature-lovers, as the wild flowers that flourish here during spring and summer attract several breeds of rare butterflies. Adonis, chalkhill blue butterfly, silver-spotted skippers, day-flying moths, such as the metallic green scarce forester and the red and black six-spot burnet have all been spotted in this area. It’s a fantastic place for a bit of bird-watching too, with Skylarks, meadow pipits, yellowhammers, corn bunting, kestrels and buzzards amongst the birds that inhabit the reserve. I’m really excited about making a return visit when the Hawthorn bushes and wild rose on the hillside turn red with haws and rose hips.
Finally a bit of downhill as the path descends towards the village of Glynde, an architectural jumble of beautifully-maintained houses. It’s extremely easy to wile away an hour exploring the 18th century knapped flint church and surrounding streets. We couldn’t resist a slice of flapjack from the village shop/tearoom, but if you need something a little bit stronger than a cup of tea, there is a pub selling local ales not too far from the train station.