Hilaire Belloc bought King's Land (in Shipley, Sussex), 5 acres and a working windmill for £1000 in 1907 and it was his home for the rest of his life. Belloc loved Sussex as few other writers have loved her: he lived there for most of his 83 years, he tramped the length and breadth of the county, slept under her hedgerows, drank in her inns, sailed her coast and her rivers and wrote several incomparable books about her. "He does not die that can bequeath Some influence to the land he knows, Or dares, persistent, interwreath Love permanent with the wild hedgerows; He does not die, but still remains Substantiate with his darling plains."

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Thursday 7 July 2016

The next walk in Belloc's Sussex...

An invitation from the veteran Bellocian Chris Hare:

''How would you like to come on a walk to one of the most beautiful, remote and mystical points on the South Downs and then end our ramble with some songs in a real country pub?

I am hoping that your answer to these questions is a rousing 'yes'!

This is my plan: we meet in the car park of the Royal Oak pub at Hooksway north of Chichester at 4pm on Sunday 31st July.

From here we walk the two miles or so to the Devil's Jumps. And what, I hear you ask, are the Devil's Jumps? They are a series of Bronze Age burial mounds that are aligned to face the setting sun on the summer solstice. I say they are burial mounds, but actually only one of the mounds contains a burial, so the other mounds are probably ceremonial markers. This part of the Downs is steeped in folklore and literary associations. Hilaire Belloc, W.H.Hudson and Arthur Beckett all walked this way.

Although the walk is not long in distance it is steep in places, so please bear this in mind before taking part!

On our return to the pub car park we can sing songs, have a drink or two and even enjoy a meal. Dave at the Royal Oak is kindly opening just for us (they do not normally open on Sunday or Monday evenings).

If you have been to Hooksway and the Devil's Jumps before you will know how glorious the Downs are at this point. If it is your first visit you will be in for a treat I promise you! I will talk about the history and folklore at various points on the walk. The Rev. Nick Flint, Vicar of Rusper, who has written a book following in the footsteps of Hilaire Belloc will also be joining us.

If you would like to book a table and order a meal, please contact Dave at the Royal Oak. Their menu is on the pub website - www.royaloakhooksway.co.uk and you can call the pub on 01243 535257.

I would expect us to be back at the pub by 6/ 6.30pm. Some people may like to go home at this point or stay for convivial company - the choice is yours!

I do hope you can join us. Late afternoon/ early evening is the most atmospheric time to visit the Devil's Jumps. Keep an eye out for gamboling fairies!''