Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Adventures in Sussex

The mercury is going through the roof round these 'ere parts at the moment...31 degrees C and climbing...the continuing heatwave causing many to seek out the coolest possible spot, while freezers work triple time as the demand for ice cream goes mental.

Yesterday I wandered to Hotham park once more, found a sunny spot and basked the day away...moving location only to visit the nearby kiosk for sustenance of the ice lolly persuasion...I soon realised my choice in ice lolly (a Ribena push up) is fairly difficult to eat without a.) creating a complete numbness of the lips, b.) looking fairly obscene while consuming and c.) leaving both lips and mouth purple for the following half hour....anyhoo, today father offered me a lift out of town and suggested Kingley Vale as an ideal location to spend the day.

It's a particular favourite of mine and has some of the most spectacular views in the area. I don't get there often enough though as it's a bit of a pig to get to if you don't have a car, such is the British transport system. So, sticking two fingers up to the cautionary advisement of the weather folk to seek shade during the heat of the day, I made a picnic grabbed several litres of water and instead took on a mini hike.

There's various reasons why this is a favourite place of mine...beside the amazing views from the top it's far enough from roads to be peaceful, so much so that you get the feeling that may have been some kind of mass disaster and you actually may be the last person on the planet. The place is steeped in history and folklore, home to the largest Yew tree forest in Europe...no one knows just how old but we're talking years into the thousands here, so.....old. Like most woodland there's the obligatory ghostly legends and it's a site once (and possibly still) used by Druids and Wiccans....when you walk through the Yews, branches and trunks bent and twisted by hundreds of years of growth, it's very easy to believe the stories of unearthly figures and fallen Viking soldiers who have apparently been seen here.

Which brings me to the name 'Kingley Vale'...Legend has it many, many moons ago, during one of various invasions of England, those pesky Viking forces were making their way north. A motley crew of Sussex farmers took umbridge to all the fracas, pillaging and funny accents and so, armed with pitchforks, ripped the Scandinavian troublemakers a new one...the fallen Kings were buried in the chalk mounds which sit at the top of the hill.

During WWII the area was used as a firing range and various devices were used to blow the crap out of the trees and land....the forest also had a couple of under ground bunkers in case of invasion the entrance of which is apparently still visable....somewhere.

The area now stands as a nature preserve and they ain't kidding as today alone I saw Buzzards, Woodpeckers (amongst dozens of other birds), rabbits, a grass frog (that's it's name not apperance), butterflies (pretty much every type) and a couple of deer (for about 2 seconds...sprightly little buggers).

As I'm a good blogger I was sure to take my camera along:

Grass Frog in a hole in the dried up 'hidden' pond....

Where did you have lunch today, I had mine overlooking this.....

The Tumuli at the top where legend has it the Vikings are buried

The only thing which scuppered my day was, after reaching the top, I promptly slipped on some loose soil and did my favourite party trick of twisting my ankle (yes, the same one as before...for the third time) I fell to the ground with all the elegance of a sack of spuds.....after a period of intense pain, mass cussing and a flash of coastguard rescue having to swoop in to save the day going through my mind (I was up a bloody great hill in the middle of nowhere afterall)...I managed to suck it up and hobble the couple of miles back down the track to the car park to meet dear 'ol dad who I'd called for assistance. I'm now ice packing the injury, hoping that it'll heal by Sunday which is when I'm off to Wales for a few days...grrr arrg!


Firefly mom said...

OK, between your ankle and your back, I'm thinking we need to send you to Steve Austin's doctor ;) And once again, fab photos and a history lesson. Your blog always has something interesting! While I am sorry that you hurt yourself (try the rescue squad next time - there may be a hottie that swoops in to save you!), I have to say that the view was spectacular.

And speaking of obscene popsicle eating - any luck finding that Daniel Craig one??

Jenn said...

Emma- It's wonderful that you have chosen to explore the land that you live in. We have been doing a lot of that here also. So pretty over there. Happy weekend. Jenn