SEAWARD SUSSEX - online book

A Description of Travels in Sussex During the early 1900s

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light below you.... Compare you the Alps with them? If you could jump on the back of an eagle, you might. The Alps have height. But the Downs have swiftness. Those long stretching lines of the Downs are greyhounds in full career. To look at them is to set the blood racing! Speed is on the Downs, glorious motion, odorous air of sea and herb, exquisite as the Isles of Greece." (Geo. Meredith: Beauchamp's Career.)
The most delightful close springy turf covers the Downs with a velvet mantle, forming the most exhilarating of all earthly surfaces upon which to walk and the most restful on which to stretch the wearied body. Most delightful also are the miniature flowers which gem and embroider the velvet; gold of potentilla, blue of gentian, pink and white of milkwort, purple of the scabious and clustered bell-flower; the whole robe scented with the fragrance of sweet thyme. Several unfamiliar species of orchis may be found and also the rare and beautiful rampion, "The Pride of Sussex." The hills are a paradise for birds; the practice of snaring the wheatear for market has lately fallen into desuetude and the "Sussex ortolan" is becoming more numerous than it was a dozen years ago. Every epicure should be interested in the numerous "fairy rings," sufficient evidence of the abundance of mushrooms which will spring up in the night after a moist day. One of the most comfortable traits of our chalk hills however is the marvellous quickness with which the turf dries after rain. Those who have experienced the discomfort of walking the fells of Cumberland and Westmoreland, which at most seasons of the year resemble an enormous wet sponge, often combined with the real danger of bog and morass, will appreciate the better conditions met with in Sussex hill rambling. Where the chalk is uncovered it becomes exceedingly slippery after a shower, but there is rarely a necessity to walk thereon.
The pedestrian on the Downs should use caution after dusk; chalk pits are not seen, under certain conditions, until the wayfarer is on the verge. Holes in the turf
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