We may be one of London’s Guiding counties, but it doesn’t mean we don’t go out to the country ever! 6th Streatham are a very busy and active unit and in July they took a trip  down south and walked along a portion of the South Downs Way. The trip included promise making, paddling, stream following, card game playing, walking (of course), and the most important bit – much ice cream eating.

A Stroll in the Park

Early July and the summer had finally arrived, when a group of guides from the 6th Streatham Guides embarked on an adventure in England’s newest National Park; The South Downs.  We met early on Saturday morning and took the train via East Croydon and Lewis to Southease, one of our smallest railway stations. The only point of note here is the South Downs Way which was our path for the day.

Glorious weather and sunshine followed us for all of the seven miles to Alfriston, with its smuggler’s cottages and historic buildings and where ice creams provided welcome refreshment. Some time was spent relaxing on the village green and viewing the church; “the Cathedral of the Downs”, whilst the cooks were purchasing provisions in the local shop. Then up again for the short walk to the Youth Hostel.

Once the girls had settled into their two dedicated dormitories, three of the older guides cooked a superb evening meal.  Having cleared up, the remainder of the evening was spent exploring the wonderful old house, lazing in the garden and playing board games or cards.

The next day after breakfast we started on the second half of our journey; down the Cuckmere Valley, where we saw the river following upstream from the incoming tide five miles away and then on through Friston Forest to the Cuckmere Haven Visitor Centre. The Centre provided interesting information about the local geology and life on the sea shore. The weather had become even hotter so we took the opportunity to have another ice-cream, then on through the stunning Cuckmere Haven to the Coast. Cuckmere Haven is a rarity in southern England, being one of the few undeveloped places where a river reaches the sea. Once we reached the beach, we found a good breakwater to offer shelter from the sun and we sat down to have our lunch. Then it was time to paddle in the sea where our 10 year old new members had chosen to make their promise.

The final leg of our journey took us three miles over the cliff path to Seaford where we had yet another ice-cream and caught the train home.

Talking to the girls after we asked what was different about the adventure ? What did you do that you’d never done before ? “Made my bed” one of the girls replied.

Our thanks go to the Jack Petchey Foundation for making this possible. www.jackpetcheyfoundation.org.uk

See here for details of how the foundation helps Girlguiding London South West