The Monthly Newsletter of Chelmsford YHA Local Group
Up on the Downs
Sometimes it really seems like the elements are conspiring against us. Our weekend at Slindon bunkhouse was booked months ago, but with uncanny timing storm Ciara decided this was the very weekend to pay the UK a visit.
Dave and I had a couple of spare days leave, so we decided to make the most of the calm before the storm with a days walk in Sussex. Considering the amount of rain we’ve had since Christmas, our walk choice might have been considered unwise. We started at Wisborough Green with a very early lunch and slithered across the fields and over stiles to the now disused Arun Canal. Well, it might be disused now, but the water hadn’t forgotten where it was. We squelched our way along, alternating between ankle deep gloopy mud and splashy water.
Originally linking the R Wey with the R Arun, the disused canal proved to be quite interesting, even passing over the R Arun at one point. In order to lift water up into the canal there was a unique waterwheel mechanism, which has been lovingly restored by enthusiasts.
Having worked up a bit of an appetite, we joined the others for a slap up dinner at The Spur, a short walk from the bunkhouse where we were staying. It was also a good opportunity to sample some of the local ales in preparation for a hard day out on the hills on Saturday.
For our Saturday walk, Cress found a route from the bunkhouse that took in the Monarchs Way. This long distance footpath that commemorates the route Charles II took when retreating from the Battle of Worcester in 1651. The same route follows the much earlier Roman road of Stane Street, which helped the legions get from London to Chichester. Although we didn’t walk the whole way, this pointed us in the right direction for our Sunday visit to Chichester.
Considering that the storm was starting to kick in properly, we were very glad to find shelter in a multi story car park for our meet up - but sooner or later we had to venture out into weather. Cress had found a town trail for us to follow, so we did a windblown tour of the sites before ending up at the Cathedral. We needed a bit of a warm up, so the café seemed a good place to start. Most of us indulged in a nice coffee and a sausage roll, but Doug and Dave couldn’t resist the full Sunday roast with Yorkshire pudding. If this wasn’t enough of a target for our pilgrimage, you could also visit the tomb of St Richard (former Bishop) to ask a favour or two. The cathedral was well worth a visit with a mix of the old in the Norman architecture, and the new with a stunning Chagall window. I was a bit puzzled about the location of the bell tower – a safe distance from the main building – this was following the collapse of the originals in the 13th and 17th centuries due to subsidence. Clearly they’d patched up the damage over the years, with Sir Christopher Wren contributing to the masonry spire that currently crowns the structure. The roof of the cathedral is famously green – at least the bit that was covered before the clean air act is – proof at least that air in the city has improved.
A lot of the gang decided to call it a day and head home after the cathedral, but Dave and I decided to add in a quick visit to Fishbourne Roman Palace. Discovered accidentally by a guy digging a trench for a pipe in 1960, it is the largest Roman Palace discovered in the UK and boasts layer upon layer of fantastic mosaic floors - handy both for Stane Street and controlling the south of England in style. A recommended visit if you’re ever in the area.
Possibly the Most Popular Sunday Lunch, Ever
Poor Cress, the advance bookings were bad enough but the late attendees caused quite a challenge shoe-horning us into the pub. It seems the whole of Writtle had heard of the Horse and Groom’s two-for-one offer and decided this Sunday was the day recoup.
Lunch was deliberately late to make the most of a winters day walk and let us drum up a bit of an appetite. I think we ended up with 18 for dinner. I’m sure it was the lure of the walk rather than the lunch…
Please send any comments on these pages to Dave Plummer