Sunday, January 21, 2007

South Downs--Walk from Birling Gap to Crowlink

Today we drove about an hour down to the East Sussex coast to walk along the chalky cliffs of the South Downs.
(click on photos to see larger version).

Just stunning. The winter wind coming off the Channel was fierce, battering us as we climbed and descended the rolling hills.

Within a short time our hair and skin were coated with a fine layer of sea salt.
As we watched the waves churn and smash themselves against the base of the cliffs, all I could think of was the people who swim the Channel and what an amazing a feat it is.
The countryside was so green and wet and expansive. The frequent dips and peaks meant the vista in front of us was constantly changing, making for very inspiring walking.

There were times when the gusts were so forceful I could lean into them with almost my full weight and still be supported. The wind has even shaped the growth of the trees and shrubs.

The walk we chose (a flat, easy 4.5 mile loop) hugged the coast for a ways and then slowly trailed inland though sheep pasture.

We noticed that the sheep left tufts of wool clinging to a fence that ran along a stretch of the path.
I recently learned that, over the centuries, English robins have come to depend on the wool left on fence posts and bushes by domestic sheep to line their nests. Amazing adaptation, no?

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