Tag Archives: East Sussex

Hailsham and The Cuckoo Trail

7 Oct

The run

Another request this week! This time from mother dearest, suggesting I go to Hailsham as my cousin runs a pub there with her husband. I looked at a map, and yes, it was near where I travel, and The Cuckoo Trail is very close by! I contacted her and asked if I could park in the pub car park and stop by for coffee before my run, this was arranged and off I went! After a nice little catch up with my cousin and some advice on directions I crossed a supermarket car park and I was on the Cuckoo Trail.

The Cuckoo Trail

It is lovely and flat and straight (no getting lost today!) and perfect for cycling, dog walking and pushing prams, it runs from Heathfield to Hampden Park and I decided to head north, towards Horam (though my cousin’s husband said the southbound section was prettier).

Map of the Cuckoo Trail

One of the notable things about the trail are the numbers of carved benches and art en route:

There is also a wildlife trail for children with small carvings at child-height with interesting facts about the birds and animals that live in the area. Each one is carved by a different artist:

The weather has suddenly changed from still feeling quite summery to a chilly wind and a threat of rain, so it was on with the long running tights and long-sleeved top, plus hat, gloves and waterproof jacket. As I ran the rain came down heavier and heavier, but the trees and frequent bridges provided shelter.

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I ran three miles towards Horam and then three miles back, fairly uneventful as runs go, apart from wishing I had eaten the banana I had left in the car and the impact of the run on hard ground making my tooth hurt after recent dental work! So here’s a few gratuitous photos and a bit of history about the trail:

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The farm

No farm today as I didn’t have time after stopping to natter with my cousin and driving 35-40 mins from the college.

The lunch

Lunch stops are going to be a bit different over the next few weeks as I am doing a challenge through my gym The Metabolic Solution – a 10-week transformation challenge in which you commit to eating clean and exercising regularly. Well I am on top of the exercise but nutrition wise things have slipped back to the half-a-bottle of wine a night and Kettle Crisps stage. But all that is about to stop (for 10-weeks at least) and am following a diet plan of six small meals a day. So today’s lunch was a wholemeal pitta stuffed with chicken, humous and salad eaten in the car in a rainy Tescos car park!

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Barcombe and No Lunch At All

29 Sep

The run

I had a request this week (yes! I take requests!), to go to Barcombe Mills and check out the river (for possible kayaking) and The Anchor Inn. So off I set on a misty, struggling-to-rain kind of a morning.

Barcombe

I had decided to walk the 5 miles as yesterday I ran the Barns Green half marathon and the legs were somewhat achey. I thought a nice walk in the country would be just the thing to ease out those tired muscles. I parked the car in Barcombe High Street and set off with a route I downloaded from the internet, a flask of coffee, banana, and money for lunch/farm shop.

The walk started off well enough with the instructions easy to follow, and although it was starting to drizzle I enjoyed the experience of a relaxing walk. Signs of autumn are all around now, I saw plenty of grouse, conkers and berries in the hedgerows.

In fact, there seems to be evidence that the grouse are quite a pest to farmers as all along the cornfields they had bird feeders, presumably to stop the grouse eating the corn (it seems evident which they prefer though!)

Game feeder

Game feeder

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Where things started to go awry was at point 3 on the route description, following the instructions brought me nowhere near anything that sounded like what was described and I felt like I walked around those fields in circles for about an hour, at one point stopping for coffee and to try and get a bit of perspective on the matter.

Coffee time

Coffee time

In the end I decided to continue down Anchor Lane to have a look at the Anchor Inn (part of the request anyway!) hoping it might make a good lunch stop – unfortunately Mondays are often the day a restaurant will close it’s kitchen, so no joy there.

The Anchor InnThe Anchor Inn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking at the map I could see that I could rejoin my original walk by continuing down the River Ouse and managed to pick up the instructions again at point 5 on the route description.

Unfortunately I got lost again at point 7 and by this time I was feeling extremely hungry and actually quite desperate as my phone was also running down and I had been relying on the GPS to keep me right.

Barcombe route

I decided I had had enough of tramping across fields (they all look the same!) and listened for the sound of a road, which I went towards.

Field

All these fields look the same – or is it the same field?

“I’ll finish the thing on the road”, I thought, and set off in what I thought was the right direction, but, as I have zero sense of direction it turned out to be the wrong way as I just managed to ascertain from the dying light of the blue dot on my phone, and then I was on my own.

Geese

To avoid these…

…go through here

…go through here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More wrong turns and I was becoming anxious about being able to pick my daughter up in time from college, this is where the running started! Eventually I caught up with a postman doing his round and was able to ask him for directions – as I suspected I wasn’t far away and stomped into Barcombe High Street thinking ‘Thank f***, thank f***’ and was so pleased to see my little car again!

Barcombe

Barcombe? Barcombe? It’s around here somewhere!

The farm

I had hoped to pass something on the way round, but that didn’t happen, nor was there time to find something afterwards, so unfortunately it was Sainsburys on the way home today, which pleased dear daughter at least.

The lunch

No lunch today as nothing was open and there wasn’t time – a sad state of affairs – thank goodness for leftovers at home!

 

 

Ringmer and The Plough at Plumpton Green

22 Sep

The run

My friend, Joey (also a keen runner) had said she had seen some good running routes on the internet, which were near Ringmer. So rather than going further and further afield I decided to explore this possibility today. I used the Walk Jog Run app to find suitable loops and settled on a 5.5 mile one. Parked up in a suburban close and went to get my running shoes out of the boot…only… somewhere between brushing my daughter’s hair and struggling out of the house I had left them behind. Decided to fast walk the route instead in my unsuitable shoes. It was all on the road anyway so not too bad. Although sunny there was a definite nip in the air. The first part was through the village of Ringmer – nice, largish houses and I was almost immediately overtaken by an old gent in an invalid carriage shouting good morning and passing comment on the weather over his shoulder.

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Conservation Corner, Ringmer

Conservation Corner, Ringmer

Conservation Corner, Ringmer

The second part of the route was on a main road which had a shop selling basket chairs and rustic household items, a few yards further on was the Green Man pub.

The Green Man Pub, Ringmer

The Green Man Pub, Ringmer

This wind turbine became a good landmark to navigate with.

Wind turbine, Ringmer

Wind turbine, Ringmer

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Starting to feel like autumn with the first blackberries appearing in the hedgerows, conkers on the ground and hay bales in the fields. Lovely and warm by mid-morning though. Navigating was fairly straightforward as I was following roads and using the Walk Jog Run app.

Glyndebourne House

Glyndebourne House

I was surprised to pass by Glyndebourne House and Opera on my way round the route. This has featured on an earlier run here.

Wind turbine Ringmer

Wind turbine Ringmer

I was glad to get back to the car after the walk as I was beginning to feel light-headed and hungry – luckily I had packed a peanut butter, banana muffin – the recipe is here.

Peanut butter and banana muffin

Life saver!

 

The farm

I decided to revisit a farm shop I haven’t been to for a while – many farm shops are closed on Mondays so this aspect is becoming more challenging. I headed back to Townings Farm Shop at Chailey as it is almost a year since I have visited and they seemed keen to expand their business so I thought I’d see what they had been up to. It is a little off the beaten track – a single track road in fact, but once there they have animals to see nearby (chickens, rare breed sheep) and I noticed new signs to the pigs and vintage farm machinery. Inside was still and excellent selection of produce including their own sausages (sausage and bacon, lamb, Old Sussex and Black Pig Apple – for pigs raised in the apple orchard and with added apple juice for sweetness). They have added a small cafe which they spoke of last time, just a couple of tables and serving filter coffee and loose leaf tea but they hope to develop it further over time. I would have stayed for lunch if they had had more on offer.

The lunch

I considered going back to The Green Man at Ringmer but thought I would keep my eyes open on the way back and see what came up. As it happened I passed The Plough at Plumpton Green which had a lovely garden and tables in the sunshine so I stopped there and entered the deserted bar. After an urgent comfort break I ordered some food from the friendly bar maid and sat outside where I was greeted by an equally friendly black labrador called Zena who lay at my feet and looked at my adoringly. Shortly afterwards another dog, called Bob arrived with his owners – he wanted me to play with his lead but I declined. The food was also-ran (bit too much sauce on the fish) – the salad was really nice though and if you have dogs or children I expect you will get a relaxing lunch here.

Cod in Mediterranean sauce

Cod in Mediterranean sauce

Horam and The Blacksmith’s Arms

15 Sep

The run

Wednesdays in the country is back! Only we are in the country on Mondays as my daughter’s timetable has changed! I suspect this will mean less things open but we shall see!

I was intending to do a run from the Pub Strolls book today – from the Star Inn at the village of Waldron, however the sat nav had other ideas and said I had reached my destination with no pub in sight! I decided to drive on a bit as someone was right behind me and sometimes the postcodes can be a bit misleading, but at the next junction there were no signs for Waldron so I continued on until I came to the village of Horam. I followed signs for a nature reserve and lakeside bar  and parked up by the playground and village hall. Checked the walk jog run app for nearby runs and found a 5 mile loop, however it was all on road so I thought I’d check out the nature reserve first. Past the camping and caravanning park were signs for a nature reserve, fishing, lakeside bar/cafe and farm museum, however everything was closed (too early? Monday? Out of season?) save the nature trails and fishing each having their own tin box in which to put payment (nature trail £1, which I thought reasonable).

Horam nature trail

Horam nature trail

I chose the longer woodland route (expected to take 1 hour) – running it took me 13 minutes but was well marked and interesting enough: with ponds, wildlife (I saw squirrels, rabbits and deer) and quite a few varieties of fungi.

Towards the end, backing onto the caravan park I saw horses, coots and ducks.

Dangerous horses

Dangerous horses

Horses, Horam

They don’t look too scary to me

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On my second time around I chose the longest route (1.5 hours) which I ran in 24 minutes. Not suitable for pushchairs and dogs must be kept on a lead.

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The farm

Next to find the PYO farm I had researched last night – ah! It seems I may have put the wrong postcode for the Star Inn in the sat nav as this took me back to my first destination which was Stonehill Farm but the PYO looked very much closed. The curse of Mondays? Headed back towards Lewes looking out for anything that looked interesting and turned in at Chiddingly Village Shop and art gallery – the home of surrealism – who knew! Unfortunately only open on Sundays – surreal.

Chiddingly Village Shop and art gallery

Chiddingly Village Shop and art gallery

Home of the surrealists

Home of the surrealists

The village shop/cafe was quite disappointing, though no doubt useful to the locals. Some signed books by a local author, basics, small selection of fruit, vegetables and local meat. Bought a few things including marmalade, cheese and salad and left as I had only just had the coffee from my flask.

 

 

The lunch

Continued on, thinking perhaps I would try one of the pubs at Offham that I am always driving past, and so I find myself at The Blacksmiths Arms which seems quite nice although I am probably a bit on the early side for lunch as it is only just 12! Making the most of the last days of summer by sitting outside on their pleasant patio.

Amazing club sandwich (I surprised myself by finishing it) and very pleasant staff. Thumbs up!

The Blacksmiths Arms, Offham

Wish I had someone to help me with this!

Abbots Wood and Sharnfold Farm Shop

2 Jul

The run

This will be the last blog post until September as my daughter’s course at Plumpton College finishes today.

I had planned a route from a pub in Arlington which had also mentioned forest trails, so when I saw signs for a Forestry Commision car park I decided to turn off and try that instead.

And so I found myself in the very pleasant surroundings of Abbots Wood. I was a bit concerned I wouldn’t have change for the pay and display (having expected to park for free) but you could also pay by parking app which is becoming popular all over Brighton (and I love – soooo much easier – though irritating you have to pay slightly more for it).

Abbots Wood

Abbots Wood

It’s well set up here with toilets, BBQ hire (ring to arrange this), picnic tables, play equipment for kids, and two different forest trails; a shorter one (less than a mile) and a longer one (less than three miles). Ideal for taking younger kids for a runaround. A lake and rope swings part way round add interest.

Rent a BBQ

Rent a BBQ

I began with the longer route, easy to follow yellow signs meant no getting lost and well maintained paths made for easy running. This area is very popular with dog walkers and I imagine would be pretty busy at weekends.

Map of Abbots Wood

Map of Abbots Wood

The lake was very pretty and I paused to reflect and watch a dog cooling off in there. Everyone I met was very friendly even if the black Labrador puppy was a bit enthusiastic and jumped up to give me his paws.

The Lake, Abbots Wood

The Lake, Abbots Wood

On the second time around I followed the red route – a bit short really but would be good for young kids- I couldn’t resist a go on the rope swing as I went past!

The rope swing

The rope swing

After the run I found a picnic bench and sat and wrote my blog with some coffee and Nigel Slater’s chocolate banana bread – find the recipe here (it’s a good one – I’ve made it at least three times now)

Chocolate banana bread

Chocolate banana bread

The farm

En route to the farm shop I had to brake sharply rounding a corner in order to let a mummy duck and her duckling cross the road!

On to Sharnfold Farm shop which certainly has a lot going on! As well as an excellent farm shop with a large fresh meat counter, they also have freezers full of fresh fruit, vegetables, croissants, fish cakes and Cook ready meals plus local ales, cooking sauces, confectionary and greetings cards. A busy coffee shop serving a variety of cakes and lunches comprising quiche, soup, paninis and jacket potatoes.

Outside on the terrace is a view of the children’s play area. They also have a big PYO (pick your own) business, including soft fruits, and vegetables – shame I didn’t need anything!

PYO

PYO

For the summer they have planned tasting weekends, lawnmower racing and a camping weekend with BBQ.

Very busy and popular, even on a Wednesday; mainly with parents and small children and retired people. The conversation; that woman’s disgusting tattoos, High Wycombe and obsessive cleaning habits.

There is also a farm trail with a choice of routes, tractor and trailer rides and activities and games on the way round.

Sharnfold Farm Trail

Sharnfold Farm Trail

 The lunch

Decided to stay where I was although there had been many fine looking eateries en route; at Arlington: the Arlington Tea Rooms looked good and there was the pub I was going to start from The Old Oak Inn, but I decided to walk around the farm trail and come back for lunch at the farm coffee shop. The trail is free but they do like you to purchase food at the cafe and picnics are not allowed.

Sharnfold Farm shop

Southease and Spring Barn Farm (again!)

18 Jun

The run

Parking at Southease station (over a rickety bridge in the middle of nowhere) I followed the second route from a series that I found here. Good clear instructions – no ambiguity or getting lost today!

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River Ouse

River Ouse

It began with an easy flat alongside the River Ouse, popular with dog walkers (I made a few new friends including a greyhound and a terrier!), before turning off towards the village of Rodmell, where I was greeted by the sound of a woodpecker hammering away against a tree! Here you can find Monk’s House, home of Virginia and Leonard Woolfe. Looks like it would be worth a visit one day.

Monk's House

Monk’s House

Rodmell is a very pretty little village with roses-round-the-door and thatched cottages. Here I met a pretty tortoiseshell cat.

Rodmell Village

Rodmell Village

Passing through the village and into farmland (thankfully no cows) and across a field of peas, where I met another small dog, comically jumping up from the peas as it tried to orientate itself – if I was a more skilful photographer I would have taken a picture.

Field of Peas

Field of Peas

A small amount of road running followed before turning up through Northease Farm (where they make Breaky Bottom wine), and on up to the Downs.

Breaky Bottom

Breaky Bottom

Farm track all the way and not too steep, with all the cows safely where they should be – on the other side of the fence!

My nemesis

My nemesis

Turning left along the top of the downs I met some German walkers enjoying the countryside.

South Downs

I ran along the top for a few minutes before pelting down the other side to a farm and following the road back to Southease.

Downward pelt!

Downward pelt!

 

Southease Church

Southease Church

The farm/The lunch

I hadn’t researched a new farm shop and the one I passed on the way was closed today, so I headed back in the hope of finding a hidden gem with a fallback of Spring Barn Farm which is where I find myself now. It really is very good here, with spacious toilets for the runner to get changed, a fully-stocked farm shop, good-looking staff and a cafe serving delicious home made food and Suki tea. What’s not to like?

Goats cheese salad and red berry tea

Goats cheese salad and red berry tea

The cafe conversation: Swanage, starting school, dog poo, the sponsored walk, ‘meaningful children’s books’ (Alice in Wonderland, The Bible)

Spring Barn Farm

Today’s Spring Barn Farm haul

 

Glynde and Spring Barn Farm

21 May

The run

Having passed the sign for Glynde many times I decided to make it my mission to find a run in the area. After a quick search on the internet I found a couple of 6-ish mile routes from Lewes to Glynde and back and also one which began and ended in Glynde. Find the route here. I decided on the latter partly because I am a right skinflint and don’t want to pay to park in Lewes and partly to drive somewhere different.

Glynde seemed quite busy for a small village, with cars whizzing through and several walkers and cyclists. I parked in the Main Street and began following the instructions for the walk. It all started off well enough, I enjoy following these step-by-step instructions, until point 3 when we were supposed to go through a gate to the top of Mount Caburn and then retrace our steps back to point 3 – why would I want to do that? It didn’t make sense no matter how many times I read it, retrace my steps?

The offending instruction

The offending instruction

I ended up circling  a nettly field to no avail before spotting a runner ahead and realised that was the way to go. The ‘retracing’ steps still didn’t make sense though, you basically headed to the summit of Mount Caburn and then hopped over a stile and ran down to the valley floor.

Mount Caburn

Mount Caburn

So, the ran began with a gentle uphill and then a sloping downhill to a dew pond that was surrounded by COWS!!! If you have read my blog before you will know that I am not a fan of the ruminators. I checked the instructions several times to ensure it was absolutely necessary to cross the field and looked up to see a couple of walkers crossing the field in the opposite direction. ‘Safety in numbers’ I thought and set off to meet them. Checked directions with them and admitted to my fear of cows before heading away towards Lewes Golf Club at the top of the hill.

Glynde

Uphill out of Glynde

Cows - from a safe distance!

Cows – from a safe distance!

Instructions were to go through the golf course but I felt very out of place among the smart lady golfers: they looked like the equivalent of yummy mummies only with golf caddies instead of buggies. Breathtaking views of Lewes on one side and the South Downs National Park on the other made it all worthwhile though.

Lewes

Lewes

South Downs National Park

South Downs National Park

Ran down the access road out of the golf course and, as per the instructions turned sharply right up some steps where I bumped into a couple of fairies making a movie – much to my surprise! Continued back up onto the golf course again which I had to try and cross but all the signs warning of flying balls were panicking me even though there wasn’t a golfer in sight! I could just imagine myself lying with a concussion on the 9th hole waking up and not knowing who I was (aka Goldie Hawn in Overboard!)

Memorial at Lewes Golf Course

Memorial at Lewes Golf Course

Skirted round the edge and eventually found a stile to get out and….uurgh…another field of cows! ‘Bold and confident’ I repeated to myself as I strode across the field – why does one always sit right in front of the gate you are trying to go through?

More confusion with directions here – instructions to continue to the Dew Pond threw me until I realised there were two Dew Ponds on the map. Saw another walker up ahead so decided to follow her. I hope I didn’t freak her out too much as I ran closer. Good instructions until I reached the second Dew Pond and was supposed to be skirting a quarry which I never found. Views of Glyndebourne: check. It would be nice to go there one day.  The instructions from there did not make sense so perhaps I went wrong somewhere? Whilst perusing my instructions I managed to stumble into a nettle patch and my calves and ankles are smarting still! Dropped down onto the road by Glyndebourne and decided to finish the run on the road – about 1.5 miles. Not particularly pleasant due to the narrow road and traffic but as the phone was nearly out of juice I couldn’t risk getting lost in the countryside.

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The lunch

I decided to move on as Glynde didn’t look too promising for lunch and produce. There is a post office, general stores and tea rooms and an interesting looking blacksmith’s forge but all seemed very sleepy after the morning rush so I made my way to the wonderful Spring Barn Farm where I knew I would get a good lunch. The food is excellent, albeit a little dark in the cafe and frequented by toddlers. I chose the feta salad with couscous and humous and a pot of the delicious Suki tea: Earl Grey Blue Flower and sat and wrote my blog and thanked my lucky stars I no longer have toddlers.

Earl Grey Blue Flowers Suki Tea

Earl Grey Blue Flowers Suki Tea

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Chilli feta, humous and couscous salad

East Hoathly and Martins Wood Farm Shop

7 May

The run

A day of sunshine and showers in East Hoathly: a pretty little village boasting two pubs – both serving food and one adjacent to the Stables Brewery. Also a village stores, hairdressers and gift shop come coffee shop. (Was intrigued by the listing of ‘prawns’ under the ‘cakes’ section of the menu?)

East Hoathly Church

East Hoathly Church

Took a route out of the village past the Norman church and down a footpath past the village school. I am at last being rewarded now with bluebell woods and birdsong.

East Hoathly

East Hoathly

Following alongside fields and over stiles signposted for the Weald. Very many large houses here with foreboding metal gates or stone gatekeepers.

East Hoathly

East Hoathly

Horsey country too and as I passed through a stud farm I saw three horse’s graves.

The Weald Walk, East Hoathly

The Weald Walk, East Hoathly

Beautiful lush verdant fields, wet from the rain shower and crying out to be run through with open arms belting out ‘The Hills are Alive…’

The Weald Walk, East Hoathly

“The Hills are Alive…”

This romantic dream was somewhat shattered by a small terrier who seemed intent for my ankles and barked furiously as I trotted past. Summoning all my courage, I stopped, shouted ‘NO!’ whilst pointing and sent him packing.

From there it was a road run back to the village – I should have traversed a few more fields but my instructions were a little out of date and I missed the narrow path I was looking for beside a cottage that must have been re-named.

Bench, East Hoathly

Bench, East Hoathly

The farm

My second attempt to find Martins Wood Farm on Ripe Lane which I nearly missed again having driven past, ended up in Ripe and then driven back to the farm. If you follow the sat nav it takes you about half a mile down the lane.

Parked up outside by the duck pond and all the chicken runs and chickens. Before I even got to the shop I was immediately met by a friendly chap who asked me how how he could help, I was a bit taken aback until I realised their main business is selling lay chickens and chicken runs – they will even board your chickens while you are on holiday!

The shop is quite limited in its selection of food – jams, chutney, eggs (of course) and a freezer with lamb, sausages and ice cream. It certainly is the place to come if you want chickens and chicken accessories though, books about keeping chickens, chicken feed, chicken-related gifts, such as egg stands and mini frying pans (I bought one as a gift for my son who is in the middle if his IB exams). Wasn’t much of a place for browsing, though I did have a nice chat with the guy who was serving about my early experience of keeping chickens and how upset the ‘pecking order’ used to make me feel.

 

Farm shop haul

Farm shop haul: Martins Wood and Offham farm shops

 

The lunch

From there I headed back to the wonderful Offham Farm Shop and tearoom for a lukewarm pasty and a cuppa and some more produce, including their chicken and mushroom pies and a beautiful bloomer. They have asparagus in season (which I had to buy) and are doing a new range of olive oil.

A snuggle of piglets

A snuggle of piglets

Fairwarp and Birdineye Farm Shop

26 Mar

The run

I should have known things didn’t bode well when I immediately took a wrong turn and headed off in the opposite direction to my planned route. Once again I had chosen a route from pub strolls, loving the clarity of directions. Well, one of us must have been having an off day (could have been me?) but I didn’t seem to be able to follow the author’s instructions at all today (something to do with being able to tell your left from your right I suppose).

Fairwarp Church

Fairwarp Church

I started from the pub car park at The Forrester Inn, Fairwarp and headed off past the pretty village green, in fair but slightly chilly weather (I was glad of my hat and gloves). Headed through forest following a track past the church and along bridelways popular with riders through the Ashdown Forest. I met quite a few riders, walkers and dog walkers, all very friendly – some even complimented me on my running!

Ashdown Forest

For a while it was all going well, bridge – check, Airman’s Grave – check, car park – check. Then, somehow I didn’t cross the B2026 where I should, although it did give me a chance to check out the Duddlesworth tearooms (unfortunately closed) before once more getting lost frustratingly close to the end.

Airman's Grave

Airman’s Grave, commemorating the crew of a Wellington bomber that crashed near here in 1941

Duddlesworth Tearooms

Duddlesworth Tearooms

It had got to the point where I was fed up with this run now, I was hungry and wanted my coffee and peanut butter protein ball, so resorted to trying to chase the blue dot around the screen on the Runkeeper in order to find my way back.

Runkeeper route

Runkeeper route

I headed back to the road and ran along it for a few hundred yards until I found the place I should have come out (Spring Garden Farm) from here it was meant to be a simple matter of retracing my steps back to the start. Retrace my steps! By this point I was so confused and hungry that nothing looked familiar – thank goodness for the church being such a great landmark!

The farm

 

I headed off to the Birdineye Farm Shop just outside Uckfield, which was situated with a cluster of other businesses on a farm estate (car repairers, dog grooming etc).

Priding itself on its butchery – selling a good selection of meat both fresh and frozen, Andy the butcher talked me through his philosophy for the shop. All the meat is from the farm (with the odd exception of specialities bought in from Smithfields – duck for example)  – I even got to meet the pig farmer whose pigs live free range in the forest. It’s a pity I didn’t need any meat. He explained they try to get in what the customers want (he had just had a request for mutton and had previously got in goat for someone). He also cuts the meat in front of the customer so they can see what they are getting. I bought a cake – they are bought in from somewhere – looked delicious – what excuse do I have to buy a cake I thought? Do I need one?

Red Berry Crumble Cake

Red Berry Crumble Cake

 

 

The lunch

With just about enough time I headed back to The Forresters Arms for lunch. Surprisingly busy (mainly over 65s), the decor was with a low beamed ceiling and wooden floor, quite spartan. I ordered a light bite of Stilton and steak pie and a ginger beer. Must have a craving for pies today as I bought a Cornish pasty in the farm shop too. My lunch was kind of like a school dinner, but in a good way.

The overheard conversation: what you are planting in your garden, the parking dispute at the village shop, whatshername that used to live in Uckfield before she moved to Devon.

Stilton and steak pie

Stilton and steak pie

 

Isfield and Holly Gap Farm Shop

19 Mar

The run

From Plumpton I drove to Isfield and parked in the car park of The Laughing Fish pub before following another of the pub strolls routes. This pub is right next door to the Lavender Line – a steam railway of about a mile long. It might be worth taking visitors or kids here, with the railway, river walk, farm shop and pub all in close proximity.

The Lavender Line, Isfield

The Lavender Line, Isfield

Again, very clear instructions taking me out of the village and alongside the River Ouse (which is the same river I ran along in Lewes a couple if weeks ago). I was concerned that this would be quite muddy, as that run was a few weeks ago, especially as the book said it was prone to flooding, however it wasn’t too bad as it has been quite dry lately. Bit of a grey day and a reasonably unremarkable walk beside the river and through fields.

River Ouse

River Ouse

There were a few warning notices about livestock and keeping dogs on leads, but it wasn’t until I walked into a field of cows and calves that I froze. I have said it before on this blog: I do not like cows! Especially when they have calves with them – I have read far too many stories in The Guardian about people being killed or injured by cows!

I was even too scared to stop and take a photo of them to show you how terrifying they were. Standing there, looking at me, slowly chewing…

Scary dinosuar

Here is a picture of a scary dinosaur instead

I decided to keep to the river bank as that would be my escape route in the extremely unlikely event they would charge me, but as I got closer I realised I would have to get very close to them indeed to get by that way, and so diverted right across to the opposite side of the field, where my escape route was an extremely thick hedge with barbed wire in the middle – cow proof, I thought. Edged around the field, walking, not running all the time feeling their eyes upon me. ‘I’m sorry I eat you’ I thought ‘don’t kill me’. Now with my back to them I can see my escape route in the far corner of the field, a gap leading into another field. However this was blocked by a flock of sheep. I am not scared of sheep though (not bigger than me) so headed towards the gap, daring not to look round or speed up. As I approached, the flock of sheep moved as one into the other field and allowed me safe passage through.

From there I passed under a disused railway line and continued following the river as far as the Anchor Inn, which would make a good halfway point if walking with children or less fit persons. You can also hire boats there to take on the river in the summer months, I believe.

Railway bridge

Railway bridge

Just before the bridge to the pub (it is on the other side of The Ouse) I doubled back along a high hedge (please not back to the cows, I thought) and crossed a couple of footbridges over waterways, before heading across a field and rejoining the road into the village.

I passed Boathouse Farm on the way in and looked in at some sheep and lambs in the barn. I made the connection between Boathouse Farm and Boathouse Organics (a failed trip on a previous outing), had a look at the Lavender Line before heading back to the car for coffee and New Zealand bird seed cake (made by my daughter). find the recipe here.

New Zealand Bird Seed Cake

New Zealand Bird Seed Cake – not for the birds!

The farm

Holly Gap Farm Shop

Holly Gap Farm Shop

Just along the road from The Laughing Fish and in the village is this farm shop (no trouble finding it this week!) I was greeted by a very friendly lady and a butcher who welcomed me to the shop, gave me a brief explanation of their business – primarily a butchers, but with an expanding product range. The meat counter looked good – not massive but with chicken, sausages, bacon, mince, steak, chops etc. They also had a small selection of seasonal vegetables (not the freshest), some freshly baked brown and white bread, preserves, a cheese counter (again a good but not exciting selection), a freezer with homemade pies – I was tempted by those, but as my freezer is out of action at the moment, I couldn’t really indulge. Preserves, salad dressings, marinades, juices, Montezumos and Divine chocolate and a selection of cards. I bought one of the cards and the lady explained that she is a local woman who works in the shop in the afternoons. I also bought bread, beetroot and apple juice and some salad dressing.

Janet Orpwood

“A Good Read’ by Janet Orpwood

The lunch

After parking in their car park all morning, it only seemed fair to patronise the pub at lunchtime. Bit shabby inside (could do with jooshing up a bit) but a good menu and craft beers on offer (not that I could have one of those, being the designated driver of the day!). Soft drinks: Owlets fruit juices and Fentimans. They also seem to have a lot of events planned including a Lebanese food night and the ‘Tommy Trot’ beer race, in which participants walk through the village on Easter Monday trying not to spill their half pint of beer! There is also an egg hunt for children – maybe I should check it out?

Nothing immediately grabbed me on the menu, although there was a good choice of daily specials including curry, fish, a vegetarian option and pies. However in the end I decided to try the Holly Gap farm burger as I hadn’t bought any of their meat. It tasted like a proper homemade burger, with very hot onions and chips, slightly greasy. Be warned the burger doesn’t come with anything extra unless you order it! I had onions, you could have gherkins, salad, cheese, bacon etc but it all costs a bit extra. Basic burger costs £8.50 extras 25-75p each.

Holly Gap Farm burger

Holly Gap Farm burger

The overheard conversation: the disappointing weather, where to let the greyhound sleep, crumble, the price of a pint in Hove…