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I stopped around 19.30 after eleven miles and camped just off the trail at the edge of a field. In England camping away from designated campsites is technically illegal without the landowner’s permission, but trying to find the owner of any land for your pitch is nigh on impossible. I’ve yet to be moved on, and neither has anyone else I know. I always leave the area as I found it, the only sign a small rectangle of flat grass. As it transpired, the farmer came over to say hello shortly after, and even handed me a cold beer. There are advantages to field camping; the ground is softer and kinder, I can see around more easily so I know when the boogie man is creeping up, and pitched facing east I get the sun as soon as it rises. The downside is that in windless conditions everything invariably gets wet when the summer dew settles in, which it did.

I have no problem waking early in the summer months. It’s the approach I follow on thru-hikes -go to bed when the sun sets and get up when it rises. I was on my way at 5.30 to crack out some decent miles before lunch and I hoped to arrive at the Amberley Cafe for homemade cake midafternoon. Despite a chill in the air that took time to disperse, the sky was clear and as the morning rolled on I stripped to shorts and a T-shirt with the occasional dab of sun lotion.

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A wonderful section through the shaded ambience of Sidney Woods ended in Loxwood village. I had hoped for breakfast at the local store but after a quick detour I was disappointed to find it closed. I sat on the canal edge, munched on the last of my food supplies complemented by a litre of vintage, filtered canal water. Not a prime Sunday morning cooked breakfast but all I could muster in the circumstances.

I passed Newbridge, following a walk I take several times a year around the village of Wisborough Green through open meadows as the trail flirted with the canal edge. With tummy rumbling I popped out at the White Hart pub by Stopham Bridge, just down from Pulborough, all the more pleasant because I had forgotten it was there. Friendly staff knocked me up an admirable egg and chips, washed down by a pint of Sussex Ale and I set off refuelled for the final leg to Amberley.

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