I’ll not hang my boots

Never will I hang my boots
at least not yet a while
for there's plenty more out there
I know to bring a smile
and whilst my best foot forward
is still something I can
I'll ride on Shanksey's Pony*
at least that's now the plan

Being out there on the hills
or walking on the beach
is something that I love to do
with both in easy reach
So it's really a no-brainer
and if truth be told
I'd be out there every day
in wind and rain and cold

Sometimes though the hardy
in me simply isn't there
so on those days I'll write instead
and of my walking share
For whether I am there outside
or within with poet's voice
there's plenty in this land to see
and in that fact rejoice


Photo – Sally Croucher [Dog – Wolfgang]

*Shanksey’s Pony – is an old-English colloquialism (derived from the name for the lower part of the leg of a horse) used to refer to one’s own legs and the action of walking as a means of conveyance


Time for a wander

It's been a while since I wandered out in the land
that Sussex affords in its landscape so grand
so today in my boots with my compass in hand
I ventured out there again

The sunshine was warm in an Autumn blue sky
with occasional clouds floating lazily by
so with inclemency low and good weather high
I ventured out there again

And the time that I had on the meadow and hill
did my heart proud and will stay with me still
pending the moment I'll again need to fill
when I venture out there again


Photo – Sally Croucher

Because I can II

At the back end of August
with pause to regale
thoughts turned to the hills
and the much followed trail

So I put best foot forward
and headed out there
knowing it always
has much more to share

No selfishness here
it has so much to give
and for these Sussex hills
there’s reason to live

And not just to live
but a ‘je ne sais quoi’
for this is abundance
a ‘four to the bar’

Joie de vivre, enrichment
the making of man
so I’ll take advantage
right here as I can


Photo – the Sussex trail – Jempics

Best foot forward

With best foot forward
I take to the hills
following each chalky trail
It’s different each time
and abundantly fine
bring joy every time without fail

With best foot forward
I find rhythm in step
humming a song in my head
The Sussex air clear
in these hills always near
on these paths that I often tread

With best foot forward
I pause for a rest
taking in the view all around
The beauty sublime
is here to my mind
the best which in Sussex I’ve found

With best foot forward
I carry on to my goal
The reward my view of the Weald
then it’s back down the hill
with several miles still
through woodland and cross open field

With best foot forward
home comes into view
as footsore I break into smile
A magical day
in every which way
this pleasure every once in a while


Photo – the Sussex Weald from Chanctonbury Ring – Jempics

Bringing joy

Never fails the trail
regardless of the time
that I have traced my steps up here
when the weather’s fine
Well trod chalk the wayside flower
the blue sky and the sun
combine here in God’s country
bringing joy whene’er I come


Photo – Jempics


It’s around about six miles
twelve thousand steps or so
a circle up above the town
where to the hills I go
It works in both directions
but the better one I think
is via the park up to Slonk Hill
with pause to take a drink

And then it’s straight to chalky trail
carved through the Sussex hill
which every time I walk up there
still gives me quite a thrill
For here I’m in my element
God’s country to the fore
with peace and beauty here within
surroundings I adore

My circle takes me onward
through Erringham to Mill
where when I reach the summit
I can see the channel still
And then it’s back to Shoreham
down Mill Lane to my front door
my six-mile circuit done today
until I’m back for more


Photo – Jempics

Happy Place

I’ve found again my happy place
I’ve been away too long
but pleased that I was back again
my heart was filled with song
and beaming as I found my gait
with rhythm in my stride
I laughed and grinned with pleasure there
in Sussex countryside


Photo – Jempics

Of Beacons and Mud

Went for a walk for a birthday
All of us met at the Star
heading off to the Beacon
via Falmer so not all that far
Up through the woods over Stanmer
frolicking under the trees
rained a lot here so the mud was
quite frequently up to our knees

The sunshine made an appearance
and the rain kept away for the day
replaced with wind that was boisterous
and with us for most of the day
But we found our way to the Beacon
and took pictures there of the Weald
before heading downwards to Ditchling
down steep paths and more muddy yield

The Bull was packed and was heaving
but we found a table where we
could sit for a while with a pint and a laugh
by the window when it became free
And then it was all back to Shoreham
legs aching and needing a rest
safe in the knowledge that days like these
are always the absolute best


My eldest daughter – Emily Rose (forefront right) – hosts a traditional walk every year for her birthday. This year we walked from Falmer to Ditchling via Stanmer Woods. Photo – Jempics

South Harting

8 of 8 in the Jemverse series ‘Circular Sussex’

Up on Harting Down
I saw the folly to the West
It’s lovely here this morning
in bright sunshine, just the best

Then I walked in woodland
sunlight filtered through the trees
Birdsong all around me
Blue sky between the leaves

Followed little byways
Down the hillside to South Harting
and the White Hart in the village
just as lunchtime it was starting


Photo – The ruins of the ‘Vandalian Tower’ folly on Tower Hill, just west of Harting Down in West Sussex. The folly was built in 1774 to celebrate the founding of the American settlement of Vandalia, a proposed British colony that never grew beyond its initial founders. As a part of the American War of Independence, the small colony was hung out to dry and while they proposed becoming a state by the name of “Westsylvania,” the fresh American government scoffed at the idea and the territory was subsumed by the states now known as West Virginia and Kentucky.  – Jempics.

[Every year in May, my brother Dave and I go out for a week’s walking. This year we took in a series of circular walks based around our favourite long-distance trail – the South Downs Way through Hampshire and Sussex]

East Meon

6 of 8 in the Jemverse series ‘Circular Sussex’

We climbed back up old Butser Hill
East Meon in the valley
Went west along the hill line
and we didn’t dilly-dally

Walked along the South Downs Way
past ‘Dead Woman’s Gate’
I slowed down a little then
but Dave, he didn’t wait

Round Salt Hill and Welter Down
Coombe Cross, Halnaker Lane
Until we came full circle
back to East Meon again


Photo – East Meon, Hampshire, UK – Jempics.

[Every year in May, my brother Dave and I go out for a week’s walking. This year we took in a series of circular walks based around our favourite long-distance trail – the South Downs Way through Hampshire and Sussex]

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