by Robert Veitch
As the season starts to turn, Robert Veitch set out from Ringmer on a walk to explore the countryside and contours south of the village
Setting sail from the Anchor Field car park turn left towards the shops and walk to the end of the road. Turn left into Springett Avenue and walk south towards the distant Cliffe Hill. Fifty metres beyond Mill Road turn right into Sadlers Way. It’s a pleasant meander through the suburbs of Ringmer. Turn right into Middleham Close and aim for the hammerhead, where a short path on the left leads to Gote Lane.
Turn right and walk carefully for 50m because there is no pavement. At the end of Gote Lane, cross at the junction, to the cycleway opposite.
Follow the cycleway for just over half a mile. It’s a joyous, traffic free walk along a decent, safe surface, with lovely views of the countryside. The only downside is the constant drone of passing vehicles. Ever so slightly, the route gains height, a foretaste of what’s to come.
Just past the lay-by is a wooden five-bar gate and after that, a small kissing gate. Once through the kissing gate, bear right, and then right again at the Malling Down Nature Reserve information board. The path opens up and continues for about 350m before there’s a sharp left hand bend (under the powerlines), the walk turning 180° on itself. There’s a stock proof fence alongside, on the right.
After almost 200m pass through the gate on the right, after which the gradient ramps up significantly. Once through the narrow gully keep left, and let the path guide you uphill. Inexorably, it finds the easiest route to the summit via small steps in the chalk. The rusted barbed wire fence to the left is more a symbolic than physical barrier to the dangers of the steep-sided Bridgwick Pit. All paths coalesce at the same summit, at the same small gate, at the top of Malling Down.
Walk towards the golf course, the path following the perimeter of the fence. Terraces line the contours of the Downs, remnants of the farming that took place here millennia ago. Once through a short section of hawthorn and blackberry the view to the east opens up.
As the path leaves the golf course boundary there’s a bench away to the left. It’s worthwhile sitting down to pause for a few moments, to take in the views from ‘John Craig’s Bench’ – the Heathfield transmitters, Mayfield, Crowborough and Ashdown Forest being high points on the northern horizon.
Back on the path, it leads to a metal five-bar gate and shortly after to a fingerpost. Bear left here, passing behind and above a small wood, mostly populated by hawthorn and sycamore. The path drops away downhill towards a concrete lined dew pond and a stile just after. The stile is marked ‘Monday Group’ and over the other side is the rough surface of Week Lane. Follow Week Lane all the way to the road.
Cross safely, by-passing the redundant ivy covered stile. The path emerges onto Mill Plain at the base of what is ‘the elephant in the room’ throughout this walk… The 70m high Glyndebourne wind turbine. The child in me half expected to see Camberwick Green’s modern day equivalent of Windy Miller emerge from the small door at the base, supping from a bottle of cider.
The remains of the Ringmer Postmill (that collapsed in 1925) are adjacent to the path. Once through the kissing gate on the left, follow the field perimeter, downhill and around the boundary, then downhill more steeply between the parallel lines of fencing to another kissing gate.
The route passes under power lines, between posts, through a pair of kissing gates kissing, then across a flat paddock to another kissing gate and a little bridge. Wander towards the homes and the Union Jack (if the flag is flying), arriving back in suburbia by a red telephone box.
Turn right and follow the path for just over 300m before turning left into Shepherds Way. Then take the third left into Anchor Field. From here it’s 200m back to the car park, from whence you set sail almost two hours previously.
Distance: 4¼ miles
Walk Time: 1 hours and 45 minutes
Map: Ordnance Survey OL11 / OL25
Refreshments: Available in Ringmer
Buses: #28/29B from Brighton to Tunbridge Wells and #143 Eastbourne to Lewes
Parking: Free parking in Anchor Field car park