DAY 6 - FINAL REPORT From ALEX:
The sky was dark and murky on the morning of the final day. My spirits rose upon hearing the first lark of the morning. They rose more when I met Beccy at Old Winchester Hill nature reserve. After a quick slurp of coffee we strolled on, looking forward to meeting everyone at the Buttercross for a performance of Martin Read and Wendy Cope’s On the Steps of the Buttercross.
The going was tough; the river Meon had broken its banks and even forced us to turn back at one point. We were behind schedule when we eventually met our fellow hikers at Cheesefoot Head at four o’clock. The shop supplying the power for our digital piano would close at half past five. That gave us less than an hour and a half to walk five miles! We charged down the hillside towards Winchester. As we passed the village of Chilcomb, it was all or nothing. We picked up the pace, even breaking into a run. Tearing through the outskirts of Winchester, we arrived just in the nick of time. A merry troupe of singers were there to greet us. A quick run through of the chorus attracted passers by and all joined together for a rousing rendition of this great Hampshire folk song. A fitting way to remember a truly great music teacher and to support the charity set up in his name. Many thanks to everyone for supporting 100 Miles for Martin.
*DAY 5 REPORT FROM ALEX* My penultimate day began with an ascent of Beacon Hill and the Harting Downs. Hampshire came into view for the first time and I crossed the border an hour or two later. Dark storm clouds shouting thunder and spitting hail patrolled the county. I hid in various pubs to avoid their wrath. The Five Bells in Buriton is worth a visit. Now the sun sets over Old Winchester Hill.
So I have crossed o’er the rivers and the high rolling downs, visited the villages and the old market towns. Behind me are the forests and the road to the sea, so come and spend the afternoon in Winchester with me! Tomorrow, Cheesefoot Head at three o’clock if you fancy walking five miles, otherwise the Buttercross at five o’clock. See you there!
(See our social media pages for more pics)
*DAY FOUR REPORT FROM ALEX*
Having broken fast this morning with a full English, I left behind Amberley's sodden fields and pushed on up to the Downs once again. Lovely weather and sea views over Bognor Regis soon turned to more howling gusts and pummelling rain. I very much look forward to better weather tomorrow as I press on towards Old Winchester Hill.
*DAY THREE REPORT FROM ALEX* I awoke with the lark (of which there are many in Sussex). The morning light oozed up the sides of Devil’s Dyke like sticky honey. As I continued on the trail, Brighton sprawled out beside the glittering sea and the North Downs were just visible in the bluish distance. Making good time, I strolled into Bramber to visit the ruins of the famous castle. Climbing back up, the weather turned. The thought of setting up camp in my somewhat bedraggled state did not appeal. The Arun Valley Bed and Breakfast in Amberley saved me from this prospect. A pot of the reviving brew and a hot shower have braced me for the second half of the 100 miles.
*DAY TWO REPORT FROM ALEX!* Despite very high winds battering the tent last night, I managed to start the day feeling reasonably well-rested. The morning weather was appalling: strong gusts sent constant volleys of rain my way. Progress was slow. By about three o’clock the clouds eventually unfolded letting the sun send forth his warming rays. I made the most of the improved weather and pushed on to Devil’s Dyke where rainbows painted the brightening skies (see our social media for a glorious photo).
*DAY ONE REPORT FROM ALEX!* Beccy and I have had a lovely day strolling up and down the Seven Sisters. I’ve set up camp high up with lovely views over Glynebourne and Ringmer. The wind is blowing and I’m about to tuck into a nice chicken tikka. See pictures below :)
On Easter Sunday 2023 I will leave Eastbourne on the south coast and hike one hundred miles along the South Downs Way. Six days later on 14th April, Martin’s birthday, I will arrive in Winchester where Martin lived and composed. The end point will be Winchester’s Buttercross, where it’s planned to perform Martin’s folksong, with audience participation: On The Steps of the Buttercross, 2000, words by Wendy Cope.
Before he died in 2012 to the shock and sadness of so many, Martin was the Head of Music at Alton College. His limitless enthusiasm and inspirational teaching motivated me and many others to pursue a life and career in music. Whether it be in the concert hall, the theatre, in places of worship, or in film and television, we all need music and we need composers to write it. The Martin Read Foundation gives aspiring young composers invaluable opportunities to work with professional instrumentalists, conductors and composers, as well as providing financial support for writing and recording music.
I started walking long distance routes in April 2021 when I walked the Pilgrim’s Way from Otford to Canterbury. Since then, I have hiked through mist and fog across the Yorkshire Dales, slept under the stars in the Lake District and soaked my boots along Suffolk’s coastline. The South Downs Way will be the longest hike I have undertaken so far.