Walking Class Hero: No Noisy Behaviour
Welcome to Walking Class Hero a regular blog about walking and the walking environment. Whether you like walking on your own, with friends or in an organised group this blog will cover it. It’ll embrace walking in cities and towns and villages. Walking in the countryside and along the coast and up hills and down dales. Walking through parks and by rivers and across heath and down and moor. It’ll comment on public rights of way, access to open country, permissive paths, public urban space and countryside protection. Basically if you can walk there it’ll be in this blog.
No dogs, no football, no noisy behaviour (Friday 17 April & Tuesday 28 April 2009)
Maybe it’s only me but when someone mentions Lewes – the county town of East Sussex – I immediately think of 2 things. First that it’s the home of Harveys’ Brewery followed quickly by memories of the Lewes Bonfire celebrations. (They take both their beer and the ceremonial burning of papists very seriously in Lewes.)
In the future, hopefully, Lewes will be notable for a third reason – as one of the gateway towns for the newly announced South Downs National Park. The new park stretches westwards for more than 120 km from the spectacular white cliffs of Beachy Head across Sussex and Hampshire to Winchester. It contains some of the best-known and most admired hill country in the United Kingdom. It also includes the ‘hotly contested’ Western Weald – an area of sandstone woodland and farmland along with the settlements of Ditchling and Lewes.
The site that is now Lewes has a very ancient history. Indeed history hangs in the air round Lewes just as obviously as the tangy aroma from the brewery. (Or at the risk of labouring the point – it’s as ever present as the persistent rain that accompanied me on my walk that Friday.) Lewes is also a town of alleyways.
The alleyway is an integral part of our urban landscape. In this part of the south east of England they’re known as twittens. In Yorkshire they’re ginnels, in Hull as tennies. While Leicester folk go down a jitty. Those that have steps are called cats crawls. Actually the regional variations of this list is pretty near endless and as far as I’m concerned one of those little things that just adds to the pleasure of a walk.
The rain that stuck with me every step of the way in Lewes turned up again over a week later in York. I had a couple of hours to fill before going along to a meeting. So I fired up my mp3 player – I started with the Doves’ new album Kingdom of Rust for no better reason than I’d seen them a couple of weeks before – and headed for York’s city walls.
One of the many helpful display boards informed me their city walls ‘are the most intact medieval walls in England’ and that these days over a million people walk them every year. The complete tour is just over 3 km (or as those prominently displayed display boards never tire of telling you ‘a journey through 2000 years in 2 miles’). The Romans were the first to enclose the city with walls but both the Danes and the Normans liked the idea so much they quite literally built on it. Today the walls are about 10 metres high and date from the 13th and 14th centuries.
Not deliberately but unlike everybody else out that day I elected to walk counter clockwise. Back in the middle ages this would probably resulted in me being burnt at the stake as a wizard and certainly loads of the people I encountered looked like they thought this would be too soft a punishment. But you know what – it was a really enjoyable walk. It certainly gave me a good orientation of York and surprisingly the views are quite subtly different the whole way round. Taking time to read the display boards as well as take some photos meant the journey took me about 75 minutes.
Without a doubt, for me, poking round York on foot is the only way to experience the city. As I was heading to my meeting venue I spotted the ‘No dogs, no football, no noisy behaviour’ sign fixed to a locked gate on a lovely city square. I know I don’t live in the area but it seems such a shame to me that people feel the need to list the things you can’t do as opposed to encouraging you to enjoy the surroundings in a positive way. None of this spoilt my good mood though and I listened happily away to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and started thinking about the Barcelona V Chelsea Champions League game I was planning to watch in a pub when I got back to London later that day. So they were so wrong about the ‘no football’ bit anyway.
OS Map used (for Lewes) – Explorer 17 South Downs Way
Pay less when you order this map here: http://www.ramblers.org.uk/fundraising/shop/anquet-map.htm
o The Ramblers http://www.ramblers.org.uk/
o South Downs National Park http://www.ramblers.org.uk/news/latest_news/southdowns.htm
o Ordnance Survey http://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/oswebsite/
o Lewes http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lewes
o Lewes Bonfire Council http://www.lewesbonfirecouncil.org.uk/
o Harveys’ Brewery http://www.harveys.org.uk/
o York http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/York
o York City Walls http://www.york.gov.uk/visiting/The_city_walls/
o Sign language http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/picturegalleries/signlanguage/