Starting from Wivelsfield, we headed south-east on Eastern Road for a couple of hundred meters, then just before Oak Tree Cottage, turned south on a roughly metalled track. At Woods Cottage, the track ended and entered West Wood.
Keeping close to the right hand boundary of the wood, we continued for a little under 2km, before the path became a drive and lead to a road. The route was also a bridleway, and so, after the recent rain, was very muddy. Both Anne & I nearly slipped over, which would not have been a good start to the day.
At the road, we turned right and in 40m, where the road curved right at a junction, we took an enclosed path. Crossing a stile, we followed the right hand edge of a field to another stile, and then ahead on a track. Very soon, we turned left over yet another stile onto Ditchling Common.
We now headed south across the grassland of Ditchling Common, where Zuka found a nice big bone (she always manages to find some kind of dead animal – either whole or part – on our walks, bless her). The OS map is incorrect here as it shows the route sticking to the field boundary, whereas in fact it more south-westerly, and heads directly to a railway bridge.
We then got a little bit lost. A SBP waymark sign, which appears to have been in the wrong place, did little to help. We briefly took the wrong path, but quickly realised things weren’t right. The map was not entirely clear, but backtracking, we soon found the correct route.
Proceeding across a number of large fields (with the remnants of high deer fences in several of them), we then bore right, and re-entered the rew. After about 300m the rew turned west briefly, before ending at a path junction. For some reason we turned the wrong way. Not even the fact that we were now walking AWAY from the South Downs had alerted us (too much nattering, I suspect!).
Fortunately, we both checked our maps at about the same time and came to the conclusion that we were heading north, not south! We had only gone about 100m, so didn’t waste too much time. However, we still had a very long way to walk and after the two recent navigation problems, we hoped we would make better progress from now on. The muddy conditions had also contributed to our rather slow progress – it was really tiring walking in it as each step included a sideways slide.
Travelling south once more, with the Downs now appearing much nearer, we soon reached a chicken farm. The birds were loose in a fenced off area though which we had to walk. They were very bold and at one point completely surrounded us. Zuka was an angel, and despite being off lead, did not touch a single bird. Poppy (on the lead!), found it all too much once or twice, and took a dive at cheeky birds who got too close.
Continuing south through the village, we went over the cross-roads and continued to a fork, where we took the twitten between the two roads. Reaching a housing estate, we bore right at a roundabout, and took another twitten to reach a plank bridge into a field.