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Ashley Heeley's South Downs Way Diary
Day 3

Day 3 Cocking to Arundal Ė 13.5 Miles

Today was our 2nd shortest day of the whole walk and the plan was to see the castle at Arundal but we have underestimated the distances all along, something I will return to later. For some reason we thought today was 8 miles. It wasnít. Bother.

The weather was much kinder today with only a couple of showers but it did mean much putting on and taking off of waterproofs. The B&B was very nice. The room was very compact and bijou but we managed. The breakfast was good (7) but we are currently debating whether baked beans form part of a full English. Personally I think not and would prefer black pudding but hey what the heck. The couple running it were very nice and we met a lady who was doing it the other way Eastborne to Winchester. One striking feature this year is the lack of anyone else on the trail. Previously on the C2C and WHW we had bumped into lots of others but we only ever saw this lady and a guy again going the other way who was obviously camping as he had all his gear with him. Donít know whether it was our itinery or there just wasnít many people doing it but it seemed strange.

Onto the walk, like everyday it starts with an uphill slog to get back onto The Downs. The path then follows the ridge on good tracks through woodland and open ground. We got to another trig point on Heyshot Down which afforded grand views below.

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View of Heyshot Down and the path to the trig point, outside Cocking

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"Marching on Together" (Fellow Leeds fans will understand this)

On the right of the path we had good views of the sea and could see butlins at Bognor Regis in the distance. We could see orchids and wild raspberries which tasted really good.

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Orchids on the side of the path. There were many of these and other lovely wild flowers

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Wild Raspberries on the side of the path (yum)

One feature of the day was the number of butterflies which at point seemed everywhere. We didn't know what they were but they were beautiful. At another point we came across a roman villa at Bignor and Stane Street, a roman road, so people had been traversing these paths for many hundreds of years. There were great views from the path along Bignor Hill.

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Sign with a key explaining the different colour codes on the signs. We wondered why the colours change. Now we know.

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Path through the (wet) cornfields

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Dale coming down Littleton Down (note the blue sky - a rare but welcome sight)

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Sign at the National Trust land on the Slindon Estate

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Sign near Bignor Roman Villa near Stane Streer Roman Road.

We eventually came to Houghton Bridge where we had a nice cup of tea and the tearoom had the best selection of cakes I've seen for some time. It was too much to refuse and the choice was amazing. I plumped for the Mango cheesecake in the end and very nice it was too. We got the train from Amberley to Arundal and basically rested. The station at Amberley was great for closet train buffs like me. Still had working old semaphore signals and the guy in the station box still pulled levers etc to work them. Marvellous.

We went to a pub called the Back Rabbit which was recommended in the good pub guide. It was really nice, right by the river with a great view of the castle. Food was good too. Excellent sticky toffee pudding. Best one of the week.

On the wildlife front apart from the afore mentioned butterflies, we saw more skylarks, swallows, a cormorant and while we were at the pub a barn owl searching the field opposite looking for his dinner which was spectacular and entertained us for a while.

On the injury front, the blister still hurts and my ankle is hurting. The chalk path is a bit unforgiving and we are all finding this harder than we thought. This is compounded by the fact that any accommodation is off the path by a greater or lesser degree which add distance to already long days. Tomorrow is a case in point where it looks like we have a 23.5 mile day in what looks like will be terrible weather. We are not looking forward to it and will be glad when we finish. Oh dear.

Will send something tomorrow hopefully but it maybe short. 


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