For thirty years, I have kept a daily journal of my Sussex rambles. And it is extracts from this set of diaries that I would like to share.
1987 – 2nd January – [Stoughton] We went for a walk over by the Woodman’s cottage: wandered through the woods [Lordington Copse] to the far side, then out to a small patch of wasteland: there we found an old shepherds hut. Hazel catkins are out: teasels abound in this acre of ragged grassland – the undergrowth – thick as a jungle.
1987 – 15th January – [Stoughton] We took a rather treacherous drive over towards Racton the roads snowbound all the way – hedgerows covered by drifts five to six feet high – all most picturesque. Wind still bitter cold.
1987 – 16th January – [Compton, West Sussex] Not so cold today – had no more snow. We went over to Compton. Beautiful snowdrifts between Stoughton and Marden: milk lorry stuck in snow. We climbed to the top of Compton Hill – deep drifts up there.
1987 – 8th August – [Treyford.] We set off on our walk from The Royal Oak, at Hooksway: found lots of flowers: saw an adder; some large puffballs in a field; also pyramid orchids; harebells and scabious.
Walked by Philliswood Farm, then on past Buriton Farm, and back towards The Royal Oak. It was late afternoon by the time we got back there: the old pub was closed – all was quiet. Even the noise of traffic, I noticed, could not reach this tiny, hidden hamlet. A lovely ramble today – though the weather was cloudy.
1987 – 20th August – [Harting.] Went for a walk over to Hucksholt Farm, and along the path to Ladyholt; then on and round towards Eckensfield.
From here, we wandered on over to Compton Down: a whole host of scabious and harebells – a perfect picture in the downland grass. Found, in a ploughed field on the crest of the hill, several well preserved, ‘shepherds crowns’ [fossilised mollusc]. Saw 3 deer about 10 feet away.
Very warm sunny day.
Photographs & Diary extracts – by David Johnston.
Copyright © David Johnston – Sussex Countryside Photography.