I have moved house from the middle of the country to the very southern edge of England. I now live near Brighton and a line of hills called the South Downs separates me from the sea four miles away. It is time to explore my new countryside.
The other day I walked out from my house and across the ripening oil seed rape field to a little village called Wilmington.
The air had been washed clean by yesterday’s rains. Here is the ridge of the South Downs.
In the churchyard of the village is a 1,600 year old yew tree.
The tree has many props to hold it up
I wondered why so many churches have yew trees planted in them. Looking at the internet I came across several suggestions.
- Yews are poisonous to livestock so the yew would discourage farmers from grazing their cattle in the churchyard
- In many pre-Christian religions the yew has been associated with the Tree of Life, a symbol of death and rebirth.
- Many churches were built on pre-Christian sites.
For a fascinating guide to yew trees it is worth reading this – Yews
We walked towards the hill
Marked on the hillside is the figure of a man
This origin of this figure, the Long Man of Wilmington, is uncertain. In Victorian times it was marked out with yellow bricks. Today it is now drawn with breeze blocks painted white. It probably originated in the 16th or 17th century. The Long Man has a great view along the ridge.
The walk led to Jevington and at the entrance to the churchyard is this most unusual gate which pivots in the middle. It is perfect for socially distancing if you meet someone walking towards you!
There is a great feeling of space and rolling country here
My walk was a circular one and we were heading home now through the picturesque village of West Dean and its idyllic church
We joined the Cuckmere River near the sea where it is wide
Further up the river and nearer home the tidal influence diminishes and the river narrows considerably
And so back to home.
What a wonderful walk from my front door. In these Covid 19 times I think I can amuse myself without having to travel very far!