Daily Mail



- Patricia Nicol

A FEW weeks ago, my family walked the final two legs of the Sussex Downs. It was an adventure for us all. From school, we joined an overcrowde­d Friday commuter train to Lewes. Then a short hop to Southease to glamping accommodat­ion.

The next morning, we hiked over the chalk Downs to the picturesqu­e village of Alfriston. Then, on Sunday, we followed the River Cuckmere to the sea, leaving it to ascend the Seven Sisters, traversing cliffs, towards Beachy Head and Eastbourne.

Distracted by friends and sweets, the children, aged between eight and 12, walked at least 18 miles without complaint. For stretches, our party walked alone, but on the Seven Sisters leg, we were amid tourists taking selfies, teens completing their Duke of Edinburgh, dog walkers, runners, even families attempting the path with buggies.

I love a walk: for the scenery, the exercise, the calming mindlessne­ss of its rhythm, but also the ease with which you can engage with your companions or retreat into your own thoughts.

There are many transporti­ng accounts of walking adventures. The Salt Path by Raynor Winn movingly recounts how the author and her husband, having lost their home and received devastatin­g news about his health, resolved to walk the South West Coast Path.

‘I desperatel­y needed a map, something to show me the way,’ writes Winn of the precarious journey that helped restore a sense of self and purpose.

In Rachel Joyce’s bitterswee­t The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry, an elderly man goes to post a letter in Kingsbridg­e, Devon, then decides to hand-deliver it to Northumber­land, wondering what life might have been had he — decades earlier — chosen another path.

Stella Gibbons’ Cold Comfort Farm, set in the Sussex Downs and partially written, I learned on my walking weekend, in Alfriston, pokes fun at the over-evoked, fruity descriptio­ns of landscape by writers such as D.H. Lawrence. The wandering poet Mr Mybug sees sexual suggestion in every swell of hillside.

Need to let off steam or seek inspiratio­n? Go for a walk.

 ??  ??
 ??  ??
 ??  ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom