Monday, August 17, 2009

A Walk Through History

So, it's August, it's Summer (some of the time), it's the weekend and my bestest bud invited me over for some chatter, dvd watching and a picnic to celebrate turning the big 3-0h....who am I to argue...It was in fact a joint celebration as Chloe's birthday is just four days after my own and we've known each other pretty much since the dawn of time so it's kinda tradition to have some quality Leo time.

I tootled over to Worthing-Town and Chloe's new digs since moving from clan Valencia....a great little place nearer the town centre, with a bathroom without damp, an actual kitchen, a back garden and a cute, but somewhat soppy, cat who sleeps on top of the recycle bin on the front path.

After an evening of Top Gun (had forgotten just how cheesy that film is) and Overboard (love Goldie Hawn) we fell asleep to the dulcet tones of a neighbour "singing" kari-oke....around 2am they finished up with a Take That medley which would've made Simon Cowell's toes curl.

In the a.m we sorted our pic-a-nick baskets (aka we nipped to the nearby Tesco express for sarnies) for an excursion to a local iron age hill fort.....Cissbury be an aerial shot from Google Earth:

It's about a 6 1/2 mile round trip to the second largest hill fort in England, and the ring itself is a little over a mile around the it's lucky I had on my most comfy walking shoes...and before you ask, no I didn't fall on my arse on this occasion.....I'm on a roll...or not as the case may be......anyhoo

It's a nice walk....once you get away from Worthing and the busy main roads we had to walk sort of turn into what looks like someones driveway then straight into some woodland. A very long and steady climb along a stony track takes you through the middle of a golf course and up into the downland and the National Trust park to Cissbury....where there's some of the most amazing panoramic views.

Cissbury Ring was part of the whole Neolithic flint mining thing of some 6,000 years ago and many of the pits can still be found, though now largely filled with chalk and quite often used by youths for campfires and late night partying...the area was fortified some when around 750-500 BC to protect against Saxon marauders, some 60,000 tons of chalk is thought to have been used to build the ramparts...though apparently there's no evidence of any battles or siege in the area and apparently the Fort was abandoned for some time until the Romans rocked up and took over...possibly used as a mint when they moved on as Saxon coins have been found dotted about the place....The area was used as a beacon/lookout during various invasion attempts, notably that of the Spanish Armada in the 1500's and was a place for rifle training and gun placement in both the first and second WW.....It was apparently a no go area for locals until the late 1940's due to unexploded materials and the heavy anti-tank defences set up.

The entrance to the ramparts

The South entrance, the dug out part due to the placement of a rather large gun for WWII defence

Crossing through the middle of Cissbury...

Cattle graze freely across the site...this particular cow looking a tad grumpy so I decided to give it a wide birth....thank god for 4x zoom

Some of the other wildlife sighted around Cissbury

A Speckled Wood

A Small Copper

A Painted Lady

A Fairy Toadstool....okay so not an actual fairy toadstool.....but it could be, right?

And some of the feathers from some ex-wildlife......quite the massacre

Some of the views from the top.....

To the north the South Downs.

To the South, Worthing and the sea

To the East Brighton and as far away as Beachy Head cliffs...which is a distance of about 30 miles

And most impressively to the West where beyond Bognor and Selsey Bill the actual Isle of Wight could be seen....a distance of 35 miles as the crow's there if you squint

The place is an interesting one with so much history and fantastical tales attached....more than one body has been found during excavations in the 1800's...skeletal remains of ancient murders, a highwayman who was caught, hung and buried in the road which passes through the middle vowed to return and has apparently been seen on occasion, in 1975 an orange ball was seen to hover for some time over the Ring before disappearing at great speed toward Chanctonbury Ring to the of many UFO sightings in the area and of course Cissbury, Chanctonbury and Clapham woods (to the west) make up the notorious "Triangle" which, according to some, can give that Bermuda one a run for it's money.

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