Wednesday, 11 March 2015

The 8 HuMPs of East Sussex

An over night trip across the Dartford Bridge staying at Brighton Caravan Club Site to visit all 8 HuMPs in East Sussex along the eastern end of the South Downs.
Already been up Ditchling Beacon with Gina as part of our joint mission to visit all 63 Historic County Tops of England & Wales. That left 7 to do, planned as five separate walks outlined below to do six HuMPs along the South Downs ridge east of Brighton, with one drive past for Crowborough Hill on the way home.
  • North's Seat 
  • Cliffe Hill
  • Newmarket Hill
  • Firle Beacon
  • Wilmington & Willingdon Hill
I had planned some slightly longer walks than last weeks "park and nip ups" in the North Downs, even so North Seat would be one such walk picked up as a slight detour on the outward journey to towards Brighton and as already mentioned Crowborough Hill on the way home.
All four longer walks are planned to be at least 5 miles, more in keeping with my conscience and removes any pangs of guilt that I may have felt last week not having worked hard enough to claim conquest of each peak.Not had this problem before as do not recollect a single English or Welsh Nuttall that can be claimed as a drive up. I have even avoided tourist routes (not that they are always easy) on the more popular mountains such as Scafell Pike and Pen y Fan opting for the more difficult/interesting option. Certainly not had the option on any of the 39 Munros visited so far and do not expect any drive ups for any of the remaining 243 with the possible exception of maybe using Ski lifts, but they will only be used if it means Gina will join me on say Aonach Mòr.
I guess I have to get things straight in my head that if I am going to visit hills closer to home every walk will not provide the sense of achievement experienced when returning from climbing a Munro or even a Nuttall. The challenge comes from achieving the overall objective of visiting every particular hill type in an area, then England and ultimately in the UK.
What you do get by going to each individual hill is an excuse to go to a particular part of the country, coming across things you never new existineg and find out about things you never knew anything about.

North's Seat
North's Seat (man made?) Trig point hidden in bushes
10m behind and high point somewhere between the two 

Click on photograph to view slide-show

GPX can be downloaded from
This will be a short walk to claim the isolated summit of North's Seat near Hastings, picked up as a diversion along the A21 on the way to Brighton.
Arrived at Hastings Country Park Nature Reserve car park on Fairlight Road and found it was £3 for a full day. Do not like paying for parking at the best of times let alone for only 30 minutes so turned round and found road side parking at the top of Mill Road. This raised the possibility of an even shorter walk by simply walking up Mill Road past Fairstone Close on to the trig point and viewing area in no time at all. Spent a bit of time clearing access through brambles (which I suspect will be a lot more difficult in the summer) to trig, then visiting viewing area which is possibly higher but man made. I suspect the highest point is somewhere between the two in the middle of a gorse patch.
Anyway still only been out 10 minutes so decided to make it a circular walk returning along the 1066 Country Walk, Hastings Link via the car park and planned start point. Still only took 30 minutes in all, covering a total distance of ¾ mile.
Walk Statistics
Walk Date - 10 March 2014
Walkers - Steve Smith, 

Accommodation - Brighton Caravan Club Site
Start Point - Top of Mill Road (
TQ 84463 11608)
Start Time - 13:31
Finish Point 
Top of Mill Road (TQ 84463 11608)
Finish Time - 14:02
Duration - 0hrs 42mins 
Average pace - 1.49mph
Distance Walked - 0.77 miles
Height Ascended - 20 metres

Cliffe Hill
Cliffe Hill trig next to unidentified green on Lewes Golf Club
Click on photograph to view slide-show
GPX can be downloaded from
Having driven straight past planned start point on Lacy's Hill to the north of Glynde and ending up in Glynde with limited parking, I considered looking for an alternative start point near Cuilfail. This would have resulted in yet another shortened walk and although felt appealing at the time decided to stay put where I had stopped outside the Old Dairy in Glynde.
So pleased with this decision not only did I complete the walk more or less as planned I think I approached Cliffe Hill from the best direction and enjoyed some terrific landscape reminiscent of a miniature Yorkshire Dales.
After initial ascent from hillside to the east there was some dot to dot walking joining the ancient Tumuli above Glynde Holt. Walking straight over Saxon Down rather than round I came to Lewes Golf course. The gate suggesting there was public access I continued through looking out for golfers and more importantly flying golf balls whilst staying in the semi rough alongside the fairways. Not a soul about and very soon was passing the high point to my right, turned right at the next fairway and found the trig point next to a green.
Having bagged the peak left the golf course over a convenient stile on the southern boundary before descending to "The Bible Earthwork" using the circular reservoir in Oxteddle Bottom as my target destination.
Rejoining the path there is a choice of two ascents up to Mount Caburn - to the right straight up Caburn Bottom or to the left up the public footpath marked on the map. Both options had a path on the ground but because was not on open access land opted for the left hand route even though the right hand route looked more interesting.
The top of this hill is more or less where I had ascended from Hillside, this time instead of Tumuli hopping to the left turned right straight for Mount Caburn, passing sign-age  confirming the route up Caburn Bottom was a permitted path.
Summit is reached through several sets of concentric ditches making me wonder what atrocities had gone on here 2 to 3 thousand years ago. Fortunately none of that going on now so all that remained was to photograph views towards Firle Beacon before returning back to the van parked 1 mile away.
So pleased I did not take the option of a shorter route. I think before I visit all the HuMPs in England there will be enough "park and nip ups" for my conscience to wrestle. This was a 5 mile walk in 2 hours with the extra peak of Mount Caburn visited qualifying it as a worthy walk with fine scenery and interesting items to photograph and stimulate the imagination.
Walk Statistics
Walk Date - 10 March 2014
Walkers - Steve Smith,

Accommodation - Brighton Caravan Club Site
Start Point - o/s The Old Dairy, Glynde (TQ 45644 09139)
Start Time - 15:33
Finish Point 
o/s The Old Dairy, Glynde (TQ 45644 09139)
Finish Time - 17:29
Duration - 1hrs 56mins
Average pace - 2.54mph
Distance Walked - 4.91 miles
Height Ascended - 301.52metres

Newmarket Hill
Newmarket Hill towards TV transmitting station
Click on photograph to view slide-show
GPX can be downloaded from
Rather than walk from Caravan site decided to save a bit of time and start closer to Newmarket Hill (more pangs of guilt). Parked in car park at junction of Drove Avenue and Norton Drive just off the B2123.
Set off down Norton Drive and reservoir, shortly after radio tower follow fence at right angles to the path following path to fence corner approx 100m up hill. Last years stubble still in field so climbed over fence and walked short distance to the trig point. If not at the trig point, high point is possibly building shown on map to the west but has almost completely been removed.
Returned to behind radio tower to gate on to open access land. A path inside the open access land follows the boundary with Newmarket Hill on the left and lovely views to the right down to Newmarket bottom. How frustrating is it that the hill summit is not on open access land.
Managed to get access to field on boundary with tv transmitting station to the north of Newmarket Hill. Once again no crops planted in field so headed up hill over dry chalky soil. Did a loop inside 200m contour line trying to identify high point by looking ahead for higher ground and behind for lower ground but a very flat summit area so without a marker difficult to find highest point.
Bullock Hill to tyhe left looked higher but is actually about 5m lower. Exited field on near tv transmitting station and returned to van along Drove Road.
Walk Statistics
Walk Date - 11 March 2014
Walkers - Steve Smith,

Accommodation - Brighton Caravan Club Site
Start Point - Drove Avenue/Norton Drive car park (TQ 35659 06353)
Start Time - 11:26
Finish Point 
Drove Avenue/Norton Drive car park (TQ 35659 06353)
Finish Time - 12:35
Duration - 1hrs 09mins 
Average pace - 2.12mph
Distance Walked - 2.44 miles
Height Ascended - 66.80metres

Firle Beacon, Wilmington & Willingdon Hill
GPX can be downloaded from
Market Cross, Alfriston
Click on photograph to view slide-show
Originally  planned as two separate walks, one to visit Firle Beacon and the other to visit Willingdon & Willmington Hill.
However it still does not feel right to go up one hill, jump in the van and drive to the next hill when there is enough time to walk all 3 hills in one walk.
Well almost enough time. After completing the 16¼ miles in 5 hours 20 minutes returned a pace of over 3mph. This was due mainly to me trying but failing to beat the dusk combined with getting back before my battery died on my phone. I did manage this - just. Both these constraints where important because I had not brought a torch with me, did not have a paper map and as it happens did not have a compass. In fact I did not have a back pack which meant I did not have any water.
Not to be repeated, even in the more benign hills of the South Downs. Still felt a little vulnerable and irresponsible because broke all the golden rules of hill walking.
That said the walk did tick many of the boxes that gets me out in to the hills. First was a reason to return, a big part of the route was along the South Downs Way National Trail having sampled stretches of it along Firle Beacon Ridge and lower valleys between Wilmington Hill and Jevington. At 124 miles would be a good physical challenge through interesting scenery and very much closer to home than routes like the West Highland Way and Great Glen Way. I did have a tremendous feeling of achievement, it was a physical challenge and I was exhausted at the end of it. I also managed a first for me - bagging a peak after dark.
So once again it confirms to me that the peak bagging is the reason to go somewhere in the first place but the hill walking provides reasons to go back.
Walk Statistics
Walk Date - 11 March 2014
Walkers - Steve Smith,

Accommodation - Brighton Caravan Club Site
Start Point - Corner of West Street and Winton Lane (TQ 51709 03805)
Start Time - 13:56
Finish Point 
Corner of West Street and Winton Lane (TQ 51709 03805)
Finish Time - 19:14
Duration - 5hrs 18mins 
Average pace - 3.06mph
Distance Walked - 16.23 miles
Height Ascended - 739.54metres