Posted 1 August 2012 by Andrew Gardner
It's hard to believe that not so long ago I was writing about the depleted levels of water in our Sussex reservoirs. Back in April I couldn't recall having seen Ardingly Reservoir so depleted, but when I drove over there last week it looked full to the brim, although I've no idea how the underground reserves are doing. We had a picnic near the Ashdown Forest Visitor Centre on what I think was the first dry, clear evening in ages and it was such a pleasure to be outside, enjoying the glorious view as it changed in the evening light.
Sussex was one of the last drought-ridden counties to have its hosepipe ban lifted, understandable as we are the sunshine county!, but that didn't happen until it had poured non-stop (or so it seemed) for months. When the bans were introduced, didn't some boffin say it would need to rain every day between then and Christmas to replenish stocks? It did seem like tempting fate... Happily, it's looking much brighter out there now.
Sussex is superb for a walking holiday whatever the weather - just bring layers, waterproofs, sunblock and some spare socks! Decent footwear will get you through any ground. The chalky South Downs generally drain very well, especially if you're high up; but do watch out for slippery patches, especially on slopes and cliff paths around Beachy Head and the Seven Sisters Country Park in East Sussex. Some people like to use walking poles for extra balance, if not for their intended use of taking the strain off your joints, and they're certainly a good idea if you have to cross water (or for poking into a bog to see how deep it is!).
Of course, our gorgeous Sussex cottages are designed to be enjoyed as much as the countryside around them and if you don't fancy venturing out, you can relax in a comfortable living room or a lovely cottage garden. On the other hand, many walkers welcome showery weather as you don't get too hot, there's less risk of sunburn (though it's always wise to carry your sunblock) and you'll probably have less to carry - if only because you're wearing that extra layer instead.