Housedean Farm – Blackcap
There is parking for a few cars in a layby on the eastbound carriageway of the A27 just before the bridge carrying the South Downs Way over the road. There is further parking in the lane that passes the farm. This is accessed from a turn off from the westbound A27 which takes you over the South Downs Way bridge (exit from this lane onto the eastbound carriageway).
Descending from the road bridge across the A27 dual carriageway, you pass Housedean Farm and campsite on your left. Continue on the footway/cycle path, past a flint wall on your left, to where the South Downs Way footpath turns left up the embankment, through a gate, and along the left hand side of a field.
There is a freshwater tap for walkers use in the flint wall just beyond the farm.
Pray for the motorists who drive the busy A27. Years ago a cyclist prayed every day for a motorist who passed by on the daily commute. After some years the cyclist witnessed the motorist’s baptism.
Longhill and Bunkershill plantation
The path climbs up the left side of the field to a gate in the top left hand corner, passing a dew pond on the right. Beyong the gate the path bears left and descends steeply through Bunkershill plantation.
Pause by the dew pond, noting the mobile phone mast on the crest of the hill beyond it.
- what signals are we receiving here?
- what signals are we sending?
- what words is God proclaiming over the people of the Ouse valley that stretches out in front of you from Lewes to the sea?
Descending through the woods, you pass a big old oak on the left …
These are the visions I saw while lying in bed: I looked, and there before me stood a tree in the middle of the land. Its height was enormous. … He called in a loud voice: ‘Cut down the tree and trim off its branches; strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. Let the animals flee from under it and the birds from its branches. Daniel 4:10,14 NIV
- God humbled Nebuchadnezzer
- pray for earthly authorities today
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Matthew 28:18
At the bottom of the Bunkershill Plantation the path bears right and begins to climb again, reaching a gate after a few hundred metres. Here the South Downs Way bears left and commences a mile long climb up Balmer Down. Three quarters of the way up, continue straight on through a gate.
There is little sign of human activity along this stretch. Use the silence to listen out for God’s voice like a tiny rustle in the undergrowth.
At the left turn up Balmer Down, you leave the parish of St Ann Without, and enter the parish of Falmer. This formerly quiet downland village is now the site of two universities, the Brighton and Hove Albion football stadium, and the headquarters of Southern Water.
The Song of Ascents (Psalms 121 – 134)
Yet not I but through Christ in me
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. Matthew 23:37
Looking to your right you have a view of the crest of the South Downs, and a hill called Mount Harry. Looking closely you will see a vertical pole with a basket on top. This is a beacon erected on the top of the hill to celebrate the second millenium of Jesus birth. God says ‘I am lighting a beacon of hope’.
Where you pass through the gate three quarters of the way up Balmer Down, there is a notice Commemorating the deaths in training of soldiers preparing for D-day during WW II
- a reminder that warfare is a serious business
- for weapons to be effective, we need to practice using them well
- take firm hold of your weapons
- the words God has given you, and the power of prayer and praise.
The long straight climb up Balmer Down ends at a tee junction. Turn right and follow the track along Buckland Bank to the crest of the Downs at Blackcap.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
The track crosses an area of downland used by Plumpton College to graze livestock and train agricultural students. God promises a provision of safe pasture.
The Strip Parishes
Before reaching Blackcap, the track crosses the boundary of Falmer parish and enters East Chiltington, one of several ‘strip parishes’ which the South Downs Way now passes through. The strip parishes run parallel to each other, south to north, from the crest of the chalk Downs into the clay weald below. They were established to give settlements a fair share of downland pasture and lowland arable land. An adjacent parish, St John Without, was excluded/excluded themselves from this arrangement and became impoverished. To this day, there is no church or significant settlement within this parish.
Thank God for the fair provision of the strip parishes, and pray for blessing on the impoverished parish of St John Without.
The track over Buckland Bank leads to a tee junction with the route that runs east – west along the crest of the Downs. The South Downs Way turns left through the gate, over the rise of Plumpton Plain.
As an option, you can leave the SDA route at this point and walk into Lewes, useful if you parked in the town and caught the train to Southease to begin today’s route. To return to Lewes, turn right at the tee junction and head east along the path that skirts below Blackcap and Mount Harry, then keeping to the left of the old Racecourse and descending through Landport Bottom to reach the outskirts of the town.