South Downs Way Bivi Walk 23rd.-24th. September 2017

The sun was down. We approached the clutch of trees; stunted and twisted by the south easterly wind. In the crepuscular light, they seemed quite forbidding.

By the time we had set up camp, the owls were calling. Down in the valley a train, segmented by the light bursting from its windows, wound its sinuous way through blackness, like a silver centipede.


In the morning the valley was transformed. Before the sun had risen over the ridge of the Downs everything was painted in subtle shades of grey. And gentle mist, pooled in hollows and clung to contours.


Looking back at our refuge, as we resumed our path, we saw that the interwoven branches of the trees were festooned with ink blue sloes and deep red hawthorn berries.


The theme for Sunday quickly became a fungi foray. As soon as he got his eye in, Ralph zeroed in on mushrooms, like a well-trained truffle hound. Soon we had bags of parasol mushrooms (some as big as dinner plates), horse mushrooms, field mushrooms and puffballs. Then we came upon the magic sight of a fairy ring, so we picked some fairy ring mushrooms.


We began the walk on Saturday. Four families and me (I had been abandoned by my kids, who were booked to play football). We began our walk where we had finished the first part of the SDW, at Cuckmere Haven. There was wild food in abundance, to delight us on our way. And the wet weather meant mud, where we could study and identify animal tracks; including some perfect badger prints.


Two days of perfect weather and an opportunity to experience some of the best that autumn has to offer.