High and Over

The White Way cuts through the chalk along the high western embankment of the Cuckmere, rising over the Downs to Seaford – a local trade route to Tide Mills.

After sharing with the bread-and-cheese at the Badgers Tea House it’s on to Hean Ofre; a high bank with the chalky horse dug out of the side.  The White Way leads you down and round the bend – the dog of Chowne paces us up that first steep slope snapping at your heels then lets you go on the apex of the second bend.

On our own, the terrific coombe and tracts of open farmland dipping away to the right we remember this song:

When evening closes in with shadows grey,
and ghostly vapours overhang White Way,
and the crescent moon hangs gloomy in the west,
’tis then the spirit of young Chowne can’t rest,
but walks abroad with melancholy stride,
adown the path that skirts the chalk hill-side.

Steeper and a slight bend to the left, the body gasps to replenish deprived lungs.  Still on, hurting, punishing, and still gasping.  The road straightens and a sign that says 180 yards to P – it hurts so much more now, but what is 180 yards?  Click up the gear and push, the wind snatching at cheek bones as the summit is scaled.  Stop in the car park to breathe or recover on the steady descent into Seaford – best to continue but remember to immerse in the view.

Like the dog of Chowne we cannot rest.