I don’t think I’ve ever woken up in a church on Good Friday before. I’m surprised a godless heathen like myself didn’t burn up as soon as I laid out my sleeping bag. I slept so bloody well though, probably a bit too well, we slept through our alarm and I woke up with a start at 5.30 wondering why it was so light already. We stabbed a fiver to the pin board to say thanks for the shelter but we didn’t have a pen and paper to write a note so I guess they just have a mystery fiver now.
It turned out to be a slow start this morning on account of utilising the petrol station down the road’s facilities with gusto. Man was I glad it was open because I don’t think the vicar, as lovely as he is, would be any manner of pleased if I had to dig a hole in his graveyard. It’s like my bowels just fucking know when there’s a porcelain throne just waiting to be desecrated.
We climbed, because there’s always a climb, out of Pyecombe. It was already starting to heat up. Not even a “I’m slightly overweight and I’m walking up a fuck off bastard hill” kind of hot either, like a proper sun’s out guns out heat, except my guns were staying very much wrapped up because I was still crispy from day one. Also they’re not really guns right now unless you’re thinking of guns made of slightly melted plasticine in which case yes. Guns.
The South Downs Way is really exposed so whatever the weather is doing it does it to you really fucking hard. I was up at Devil’s Dyke once and saw a rain cloud approaching in the distance. My friend and I turned and bolted towards the pub but it very much caught us and hey, it was hail too so of course my ears really enjoyed being pelted with that. But with this kind of heat and no shelter anywhere you just have to accept that some of your brain cells are going to cook inside your skull and there’s nothing you can do about it.
We carefully rationed our limited supply of factor 15 and headed down into Saddlescombe farm where there’s a café but we were too early for their 10am opening time. It’s probably a good thing we keep missing the opening times of cafés or we’d rapidly blow our entire budget on cake. After that it’s a very hilly-hill up to Devil’s Dyke where there’s a pub if you arrive at an hour that society deems respectable enough to start drinking.
We were sweating our way up to Truleigh Hill when a mate, Jenny, who had been watching my Instagram stories lamenting the loss of our top layer of skin WhatsApped me to ask where we’d be in an hour so she could bring us some suncream. What. A. Legend! Insert heart-eye-emoji right here, please, because we were more or less barbecued. Tarrant had taken to wearing a towel under her hat to cover her neck and ears. I mean, it was a strong look but some actual high SPF shit is what we needed in our life.
We met Jenny and her partner, Dan, in Upper Beeding and we popped to The HUB which is a café in the local Baptist church. What a lovely place! The staff were wonderful and so welcoming, and Dan just liked it because we were the youngest people in there. I looked around. Yeah, we were probably the only table which didn’t have to take their teeth out to clean them. The lady serving us asked us about our backpacks so we explained what we were doing.
“Have you read The Salt Path?” she asked. Wow, so soon, I wasn’t expecting that question until we reached the South West Coast Path. I started a running tally.
That closed at midday which, conveniently, was when the King’s Head opened so we ended up in there so we could charge our power banks. It’s a nice pub with a brilliant beer garden which backs onto the river but I get the feeling that the guys running it don’t want to be there. Fair enough really. Who wants to be stuck in a dark pub with low ceilings serving lovely cold beer to people getting increasingly drooly and increasingly red.
We headed onwards until eventually we got to Chanctonbury Ring. Exciting times, guys! Once were through here we’re onto mostly unchartered territory for us. There are a few trigpoints that we’ve bagged whilst doing other walks but this is more or less new ground.
The new ground was very farmy though and we didn’t really want to go a huge distance further today. I like to camp in woods because you can hide there and I’m acutely aware that wild camping is illegal. It’s not always going to be possible to tuck ourselves away though, we need to grow a vagina (we don’t grow balls for balls are soft and weak) and and start accepting that sometimes we’ll just need to camp in a field in full view of a trail.
We swung a left off the trail to bag a trigpoint and decided to camp in some nearby undulations overlooking Storrington. There was an old fire ring, if people can burn shit and not be disturbed then surely we can camp quietly and no one will give any fucks, right? We watched the fiery skyball bugger off then pitched up and went to bed. We did hear someone walking past after dark, but they probably heard the poor bastard in Storrington as he wheezed his way up the hill. No one said anything about the random tent so I guess we’re fine here.
I really enjoyed today actually. It’s not like I didn’t enjoy the first two days, but I feel like today my legs finally accepted that this was their life now. I slept really well last night so I wasn’t as tired as I was yesterday, it was lovely seeing Jenny and Dan, and the 90 minute rest in Upper Beeding was very welcome. I’m calling today a win.
Pyecombe, West Sussex to Storrington, West Sussex, England
Stayed at: Wild camp in the hills above Storrington
Useful shit to know…
- Pyecombe Church is open between 10am and 4pm. They’ve got a toilet and a small kitchen with a kettle, tea and coffee which everyone is welcome to use.
- South of the church at the end of Church Lane is a BP petrol station with an M&S Simply Food, ideal for a resupply. They also have a toilet.
- There are water taps at Saddlescombe Farm, Truleigh Hill YHA, before you cross the River Adur south of Upper Beeding, and near Washington after you’ve crossed the A24.
- Toilets are at the M&S Simply Food in Pyecombe. There are some at Saddlescombe Farm but they’re not always open, and the ones at Devil’s Dyke have been boarded up since Covid.
- The Wild Flour café at Saddlescombe opens at 10am but check their social media as sometimes they close.
- The National Trust campsite at Saddlescombe obviously shut for Covid but they’ve not reopened yet. The way they were talking they’re not sure if they will.
- The pub at Devil’s Dyke does food but it’s expensive and not great.
- The HUB in Upper Beeding is a brilliant little community café. It closes at midday and I don’t think it opens on weekends.
- The King’s Head is accessible directly from the river. Great beer garden. Grumpy staff.