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Ashley Heeley's South Downs Way Diary
Day 2

Day 2 East Meon to Cocking ( No jokes please) 19 miles

We have (well I have anyway) over estimated my ability and under estimated the difficulty of the walk. My legs hurt and my blister hurts. I must get some new boots. Two 19 mile days to start was taking its toll.

Anyway, we had an eventful start to the day. We had booked an 8.00am breakfast but the inside door from the rooms to the pub was locked and nobody answered despite Karen's increasingly frantic knocking. After a while a guy emerged from one of the other bedrooms declaring he was cooking our breakfast. So our hopes of an early start were dashed. Having said that the breakfast was pretty good and merited a 7. It would have got an 8 if there had been cereals.

On to the walk. We all had glum faces as we watched the rain lash down at breakfast but this had started to clear up by the time we set off. We didnít order a packed lunch as the book said the local store was surprisingly well stocked. It wasn't. So I bought an emergency cheese pasty and we had to think what we would do for lunch. It looked like there could be a pub stop although we would have to go off route a bit. We left East Meon and it's lovely 900 year old church and headed up back on to The Downs.

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Forge just outside East Meon. A rare sight these days

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Matt, Dale, Mark, Karen and Mike outside The Forge Cottage, East Meon

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View after the climb out of East Meon

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View of The Downs after East Meon

We turned off the road and onto a wooded track. It was here we saw a huge hare galumph across the path. An impressive site. The path wound its way to Butser Hill the highest point on the walk. Matt, Mark and me headed up to the trig point where you could see the Isle of Wight, Portsmouth and the south coast.

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Mark and me at the Buster Hill trig point

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Coming down from Butser Hill towards the A3 near the Queen Elizabeth Country Park

The other 3 had decided not to go to the trig point (as they didnít on Beacon Hill yesterday, so we claimed the moral as well as the actual high ground as we would be doing more. Dale and the others claimed that while we yomped off to the trig points they circled to make sure they also walk more. Somehow I donít think they did!!) The path then dropped down to cross the busy A3 to the Queen Elizabeth Country Park visitor centre where we had a short break. Through more woodland we left the path and stopped at The Five Bells in Buriton for lunch ( no we didn't have a beer ) and the sandwiches were great. We didnít really want to leave but of course we had to.

As we left Buriton the heavens opened and we had to walk the next 2 hours in the rain (we were getting used to it by now). The path climbed slowly for a long time through woodland and open ground on Harting Down to eventually get on top of The Downs again. As we came out of some woodlands, the sun shone and the views were lovely.

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View from a gap in the wooded section after the Q.E. Country Park

It looks like youíre high up and the landscape is rolling country and very nice too. We had a short, sharp climb onto (another) Beacon Hill. By this time my legs hurt but at least the chaffing was better thanks to copious amounts of vaseline. We had a bit more rain but the sun came out for the last hour. As we dropped into Cocking there is a huge chalk boulder at the side of the path.

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The big ball of chalk on the hill down into Cocking ( with Dale lurking nearby)

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Dale and the big ball of chalk

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Me and the big ball of chalk

Don't know how it got there (Hannah question for you ) which was interesting, although it looks much whiter in the book. We arrived at our B&B (Moonlight Tea Rooms) after 8 and a half hours with a nice welcome and cup of tea.

The pub was good but empty. Only us in so the landlord said he was shutting at 9pm. We tried to persuade him to stay open longer by promising to drink more but he still closed at 9.30pm. Probably a good thing as the Spitfire was going down fast.

Forgot to mention that about an hour from Cocking Matt and myself spotted a small grave tucked away in the hedge. It had a poppy and crosses which had been left and although the inscription was worn it looks like it was a German pilot who was buried there in 1940 at the Battle of Britain I presume.

South Downs Way 2008 64 
Grave of a German pilot killed in 1940 at the Battlle of Britain (I presume). This is hidden away on the path in a wooded section before Cocking. The engraving on the stone is quite worn but can still be read. Easily missed but spotted by the eagle eyed Matt.

Wildlife highlights include the hare, an egret, a heron, a deer running through a corn field, lots of swallows, a kestral and we thought we saw a green woodpecker but not certain.

A shorter day tomorrow and the weather looks ok although Weds looks terrible and itís a long day.

Oh well. Arundal tomorrow. 


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