Surviving the cold
One of the benches adjoining the Bomber Command memorial situated up here on the headland provided a suitable stop, and the chance for a moment’s reflection (too cold to linger for long). The monument was installed in 2012 in tribute to the 110,000 aircrew of the RAF’s Bomber Command in the Second World War, over half of whom lost their lives. Many of the missions departed the country over Beachy Head. As the inscription says, ‘for many it would have been their last sight of England’. There’s added poignancy for me, since I knew someone who was one of their pilots, and recalled how he often acknowledged how lucky he was to survive.
Surviving the cold was the challenge today, with bitterly cold temperatures and a biting wind. I was glad to have brought two pairs of mitts, but even so, removing them every time to use the camera was a painful experience for my fingers (which, like my toes, always suffer in the cold). But with the landscape transformed as it was, enhanced by some blue sky now overhead, it was a photo opportunity not to be missed. I passed one or two folk on the way to Birling Gap, but thereafter there wasn’t a soul to be seen along the Seven Sisters. The spikes were invaluable on the icy slopes.
The snow petered out as I reached the Cuckmere valley with green fields beyond. For the final leg of the walk, I headed up to Chyngton Farm to enjoy the ever-cheering sight of the lambs with their mothers out in the fields (lambing starts in early February at the farm), and then on up to South Hill and along the cliffs back down to Seaford for a train home. A birthday walk to remember.