Chanctonbury Ring at Midsummer

Liz and I sallied up the rather muddy and slippery slope to Chanctonbury Ring today, which was a bit more daunting than we assumed. In part that was due to the lack of signage. In fact we initially drove past the parking area because there was no warning for the picnic area, just a small sign tucked away next to a cattlefield. Not exactly an optimum picnic spot, but it is really pretty countryside. But where to go from there. We followed a woman who seemed to know where she was going with her black Lab, but she turned back when she saw how muddy it was. We pressed on, being determined to make this walk. Of course it was a lot steeper than we thought it would be, slippery through the woody paths. Recent rain had brought down a lot of detritus and mud which made the trail challenging, but the forest was beautiful and quiet but  for bird songs.

We were congratulating ourselves on at last reaching the top, but when we walked out into the meadow at the top, there was no sure indication of which way the ring lay. Ah, we thought, noticing an intrepid pair of obviously seasoned walkers, we’ll ask them. Well, they had no idea; they had much more detailed maps of the area and yet were uncertain exactly where we or the ring fort were. But we all agreed on the most likely direction and struck off again (they quickly pulled ahead of us). We admired the sheep and were cheered to see the growth of trees in the distance that seemed to look like the ring and admired the view around us — well, as long as it lasted because the clouds closed in and the rain began and the wind whipped up to show us who was boss.

However, we were determined now and nothing would stop us from making the last bit of the journey and sure enough we could see the earthen wall and walked up into it to find a guy with his bike (I’m guessing he did not come up the same path) gathering mushrooms. We had quite a feeling of accomplishment as the wind whipped around us and decided to  celebrate by heading back down. It’s quite an amazing journey. Legend says that you can conjure the devil by running around the ring counter-clockwise seven times. He will offer you soup for your soul.

Liz made soup for lunch; I ate it anyway. It was very good.