I have to admit to ticking off a walk out of Lewes I have never done before, although I have approached parts of it from the north and south. My desire is to see autumn trees but with the sun so low we decided to keep out of The Combe.
As each of these maps from OpenStreetMap, Google Maps and Ordnance Survey show the same thing: a strip of trees in the shady lee of the coombe. Instead we parked on the street off Malling Hill and took a path onto Malling Hill to Cliffe Hill, walked around the side of Lewes Golf Course then battled a chill northerly wind to the old chalk pit and the walk back.
I can’t say I took much pleasure in it.
In a ridiculous over statement Sussex Wildlife call the Malling Nature Reserve ‘a superb chalk grassland and scrub’. The same author calls Lewes ‘quaint’. The clichés depress me.
I would call Malling Nature mediocre; it gives the impression of a patch of exposed Downland that is overgrazed, over managed and over trod. It is an urban park, a dog and human playground squeezed in against the edge of a popular town with busy roads in ear shot and a golf course along its southern boundary.
There are multiple gates to negotiate each with a set of signs with conflicting messages regarding ownership, what you should or should do with your dog and the presence of sheep in the field (or not) – though there were no sheep present anywhere when we visited. The signs warning of sheep are secured by clips to the wooden gates and are clearly left in place regardless of whether there are sheep present or not. Someone has not been told the story of the boy who cried ‘Wolf!’. Ignoring the signs is inevitable.
Here at least the importance of picking up dog shit is explained; on the Landport in the distance across to the west of the town and visible from Malling Hill the attitude I have had expressed to me in person on the ground and online in meetings of the Friends of Landport Bottom that on ‘open countryside’ dogs can do what they please, were they please.