Blowing a Gale

The walk begins outside the YHA
And the forecast is for gales today
The ground is sodden from overnight rain
By now you would hope it was on the wane
The start involves a diagonal climb
At your own pace in your own time
The track is sticky and slippery too
Deep treads are vital on the walking shoe
Likewise a pole to provide support
Or a steady hand as a last resort.

On the top of the Downs it’s open ground
With breathtaking views for miles around
Blowing from the north east the wind is sharp
Though seasoned ramblers hesitate to carp
Conversation is sparse as feet forge ahead
Determined to reach the next refuge instead
It comes in the form of Jevington church
Signposted clearly no need to search
Here it is time for a welcome rest
Out of the wind we feel quite blessed.

Then through the churchyard past the Eight Bells pub
Up the wooden steps opposite between the scrub
Heading back on the path it’s single file
All of it rising for over a mile
Three stiles are climbed before reaching the top
Timely moments for an impromptu stop
Once at Butts Brow there is little respite
The gusting crosswinds continue to bite.

But now for all, Valerie Cox’s bequest
An inscribed bench on which walkers may rest
A Polegate rambler for many a year
Val lingered here when the air was clear
She loved to take in this panoramic scene
Willingdon’s vista on nature’s screen.

Now onward we travel though not too fast
Still buffeted by the wintry blast
Sheep graze on though the wind hardly ceases
Zipped up tight in their woollen fleeces
At last dropping down beside the hill
Among sheltering trees it is calm and still
Before us the hostel springs into view
A welcome relief then farewell, adieu.

Roger Lee