Ramblings with Bill: Deep, rich music of the countryside

Ramblings with Bill
Ramblings with Bill

This is the Birth place of Banoffee Pie. Born 1972’, announces the blue plaque.

We are in Jevington where, although there is still a chill in the air, the sun is out and promising a day filled with the vivid, bright colours of spring.

We cross the road, pass the ancient church where daffodils flood the graveyard, then take the path up the steep slope which pulls out of the village. Teams of walkers are out today.

I make Bill sit to one side so she doesn’t get tangled in the army of legs.

Walking up through the gladed, chalky pathway, a strong, sweet smell fills the air and sure enough, on the slope which sheers off to our right, there are swathes of lush, green wild garlic in which Bill drops her ball. Reaching down to find it l can’t resist picking some so leaving traces of the pungent smell lingering on my fingers. On the top we’re hit by a strong, west wind. Clouds behind us cast sweeping shadows across the land. The sky ahead is blue and clear. Through a gap in the hills I see beyond Eastbourne to Herstmonceux.

In the west the chalky White Horse of Litlington prances on the side of the hill. In the far distance mysterious colourful specks hang in the sky. Kites perhaps? Bill is unimpressed when I put on her lead before entering the field. A ewe eyes us, watching our every move. She calls to her twin lambs which run in to feed, tails quivering.

Mum has other ideas and moves towards the safety of the flock, her lambs in pursuit. Down in the valley a curl of white smoke stretches upwards.

As the valley deepens I can see the distant sea, so blue today, seamlessly joining the sky. I hear only the deep, rich music of the countryside. We meet a couple whose playful German Shepherds put Bill on edge. She drops her ball. We all six watch helplessly as it runs under the fence, and rolls down the hill. An adventure!

Bill needs no help but I’m glad of the hillside shelves which create a flight of natural steps to descend. Out of the wind it is warm, hot even. Tiny, blue speedwell flowers are scattered across the hillside. A red admiral flutters by and an early bee is spared its life only because Bill is not fast enough to catch it. The ball is not found but Bill is not to be cheated, and her searching finally unearths another one, no doubt lost in the same way. Back on the top, the view is breathtaking.

Above Firle Beacon the colourful specks reveal themselves to be hang gliders drifting on the breeze.

My eyes sweep across the Weald which stretches for miles below me. I draw a deep breath and feel like I’ve just returned home after a long stretch away as I sense the stirring of my ancestors and the long, Sussex heritage that courses through my veins.

Start at the old Hungry Monk restaurant (now closed) in Jevington (Map Ref: TQ590024).

Cross the road, walk past St. Andrew’s Church and follow the upward path through the woods, turning right a the cross-tracks at the top of the hill. Keep to the South Downs Way and follow the waymarkers through the gate and along a wide green lane to Windover Hill above the Long Man of Wilmington. This walk, about 4 miles long, is the first part of a 7 mile circular walk of pleasant, relatively easy terrain along well used paths.