It's not that we weren't. I've always thought of that scene as beautiful, but I've known it so well since I was small that it doesn't make me gasp out loud like our friend each time I see it. To me it's just the way the landscape looks around my home. I never thought I took these views for granted, but recently his words have come back to me and I'm making sure that I absolutely take the time to love the beauty around me.
The South Downs has been a designated national park for the past couple of years now and I live in a small town nestled inside it. I grew up in a town just on the outskirts, and the village my parents now live in is only a few miles north of it. The South Downs have always been part of my life.
The park runs from St Catherine's Hill, Winchester, Hampshire in the West to Beachy Head, Eastbourne, East Sussex in the East. Its most southerly point is Eastbourne and its most northerly point is some village in Hampshire if I can trust Google maps. I am least familiar with the West side, knowing West Sussex only a little and not knowing Hampshire at all.
|Weald & Downland Museum near Chichester -|
of the less familiar, but still beautiful West side!
I do, however, know East Sussex like the back of my hand, and therefore I know this part of the South Downs pretty well.
I spent my childhood walking and cycling on the Downs with my friends, or hiking across them as a scout. I've spent my adulthood walking on them and always admiring the landscape at every opportunity. At my last job I had a spectacular view of the Ouse Valley flanked by Kingston Ridge and Firle Beacon on either side. In my current job I can see a ridge of Downland, beyond which lies Beachy Head.
|Looking across to Kingston Ridge|
One of my favourite places to go is Cuckmere Haven and Seven Sisters. This area is very popular with tourists but it is also very special to locals. The meanders of the Cuckmere River are well known, and the Seven Sisters cliffs are amongst the most iconic features of Sussex, and apparently they frequently star in films as the White Cliffs of Dover!* From trips here with school to walks with my husband, I don't think I could ever grow tired of this place.
|The River Cuckmere meandering towards the sea|
|Husband paddling in the sea at Cuckmere Haven, |
near where the Seven Sisters start
|A chalk horse wanders across the Downs near Cuckmere|
My entire train journey to work is accompanied by the Downs zooming past, and that is where my friend's words have returned to me most as I gaze out of the window, my thoughts often a million miles away. I've been taking the time to watch the new lambs running about the fields, a sight that always lightens my heart and fills me with joy. I give a little nod of acknowledgement to the Long Man of Wilmington, a chalk figure carved out in the grass centuries ago, standing tall above the A27 and the railway line as if keeping us all in order. On the way home, on the sunnier days, I love to watch the paragliders taking off from Mount Caburn, the bright colours of the wings emphasising the blueness of the sky and the greenness of the grass.
I am thankful for the South Downs. I am thankful to live in such a beautiful part of the country. I do not want to take them for granted. I may not always live in this area and so I want to continue to enjoy them for as long as possible.
Photos my own.
PS. Sorry I don't have a picture of the lambs, the Long Man of Wilmington, or of paragliders. I hope to take some in due course!
* Sourced from Wikipedia, but I've seen pictures of them mistakenly described as the White Cliffs of Dover on many a website too!