We went wandering in Winchelsea. The small town sitting on top of a hill complete with ruined stone gates, the Ferry Gate and the King’s Gate that marks the sea defensible ends of a military laid out town plan. Other than the lookout boards in four places around the town the plan is also marked on the New Inn sign. We went there to pay a tribute to Spike Milligan who is buried there but we discovered that of late his wife has passed away and the headstone is being altered for her. The odd feeling of peace in the churchyard extends as you walk around the town, experiencing the curved turns, the neat gardens and the definite feel of Sussex in the buildings.
The day was one of those days that start off misty and grow to full sunshine reminding me of the September days of hop picking and summer holidays taken after the August breaks; the cusp of autumn with a slight reminder of chill to come but the day being beautiful. We used to have days like that. My sister was not feeling well enough to drive so it was up to me and I have to say the drive in such weather was delightful (we could have done with air-conditioning) and passing over the hills down to the Romney Marsh and on to the flats of Rye Bay was enjoyable.
But to the wandering.
We found a parking space and unshipped the Zoid who was eager to get going and with light clothing, camera ready and water in bottles for us and the dog we headed off to St Thomas’s in the centre of town. The church is large, fascinating and quite unusual and although it is the centre-piece of Winchelsea doesn’t appear to dominate as much as compliment the town.
We searched for Milligan’s grave in vain and so, with dog trying to lead the way we set off to explore and enjoyed some great views over the bay. From the lookout point near King’s Gate we could look out over the bay and see Dungeness, Rye and Camber on our left and to the right the Royal Military Canal and a view over Winchelsea Beach. Below was Camber Castle built during Henry VIII’s reign to defend the bay – it was built on a spit of land – but now all it does is look pretty and defend us from invasion by the Camber Wind Turbines which do dominate the area.
Winchelsea has views all round that are worth looking at but the only distraction is the main road which is extremely busy. However, we managed to cross it safely and look at the old mill site from the cricket ground opposite John Wesley’s Chapel. We looked out over the valley (the river Brede) that was bathed in September sun and it was breathtaking. Lunch was on the agenda so we adjourned to the New Inn where we were allowed to take Zoid into the bar. Mid-week and out of season the staff were nevertheless friendly and we enjoyed the food and drink as well as a pleasant and comfortable rest. The New Inn is under new management and from our experience we can see their enthusiasm for the place and wish them well – looking forward to a return visit.
We wandered after lunch to the mill site via the footpath; part of the 1066 walk, but didn’t follow it as it headed off into the valley and the hills. Instead we took a walk toward the road again and back up to the cricket ground.
After that we drove down to Winchelsea beach and stopped between there and Pett Level to take a refreshing stroll on the beach. Zoid decided to taste the sea water he was paddling in and perversely seemed to like it. The tide was out and the foreshore flats were dotted with White Egrets feeding. It was pleasant walking along the beach; the sea turquoise, the sky a vibrant blue slightly hazy and a soft cooling breeze made walking easy and gentle. Good for the fuzzy head and good for swapping memories. One that Daphne recalled was in past visits with the family the egg sandwiches that were part of our picnic lunch. For me, a while afterwards it was remembering buckets of winkles that we took home to cook and eat.
A good day out in the early autumn sun.