Thursday, July 16, 2009

6 June 2009 - Day 7: Birling Gap to Seaford

3.20 p.m.
Temp: 18C, humidity: 31%, wind strong easterly, light cloud cover
O.S. Explorer Map No. 123
Distance cycled: 7.9 miles

After a morning blogging, a quick trip to Eastbourne to buy a tiny wind-up radio, I say a sad goodbye to the Birling Gap Hotel who have been supportive and helpful and leave for a journey I'm not confident about. But I still have the rose - "Compassion" - that Jo gave me for luck when I left the first day.

The first part of journey is uphill against strong wind to East Dean,

where I look in at a Bupa home refurbishment celebration. The Salvation Army are playing, but not being into private health care or religion I pass swiftly on along the worst road I've yet encountered. It's narrow, uphill, with queues of fumey cars and irritable drivers having to wait behind me while I pause regularly to regain my breath.

But the route through Friston Forest is peaceful and lovely. It's uphill and I have to stop a lot. I record each rest.

At a crossroads I'm very unclear which way I should go. But the gods are kind and barreling down the steep track opposite come Jeanette and Mike who set me right.

Jeanette questions me about emphysema - she's shocked when I tell her it doesn't take large numbers of cigarettes to cause the damage - and says she wants to give up smoking. She cycles a lot now as her knees have suffered after years as a runner.

The very few people I see today are all cyclists; Brandon and Katie help me with a puncture near West Dean, following which I cross the Cuckmere River, and more country tracks over National Trust land,

finally hitting the coast around 6.45 pm. It's an easy ride then to Buckle Caravan Park to pitch the tent and settle for the night. Many thanks to Glen from the National Trust who helped me work out the route.

Sunday morning: 1.30 a.m.

RAIN! I wake in trepidation to rain pounding my little tent. There's no flysheet and I don't know if it will hold up but the next morning, despite a few small puddles at the edges I'm snug and warm and dry in my sleeping bag and the sun is shining through the tent.