Hike Map

Roman Steps – My Historic Local Route

I’ve camped up here several times. It feels special, atmospheric. The history is deep, entwined in the earth under my feet. Thousands of years, memories locked in the ground that still resonate and vibrate. You can sense them – honest you can.

I woke in the early hours, I don’t know what time. I had pitched my hammock low beneath the tarp so I could see my surroundings if I woke. A low-slung moon picked out the tree flanks, bathed in silver. The moss glowed, shadows stretched, and save the odd rustle of a rabbit, it was quiet. I wondered why I had woken. Perhaps it was a dream gently bringing me round. Then, after a minute I remembered, and it chilled me. Marching, the rhythmic sound of feet on hard ground, perfectly synchronised, like a thousand drumbeats. I was a few yards from Stane Street, an old Roman road linking Chichester with London. Shrugging it off, I fell back to sleep.

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I came to at sunrise, 5.30am back then in the summer. Was the marching a dream? Was my awakening a dream even?

West Sussex rarely gets mentioned in the outdoor publications. I don’t care; the fewer people visit the less crowded it is for me. Outdoor publications focus on the western areas of the UK because that’s where the mountains are. Wales, the Lake District and Scotland all vie for the editors picks because, apparently, height is everything.

But it is my little corner of the world that has everything: classic rolling downland, miles of albino white chalk trails, ancient wood and forest, a dramatic coastline, and most of all, it is bathed in history.

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