One of the joys of living in a small village is that you can set out on foot, in practically any direction of the compass, and within a minute you are out in the countryside.
I have to be honest and admit that it is the dog which gets me out each day, especially on dark, damp winter mornings. But once you are well dressed up and away down some footpath, the sights and sounds of nature take over and always lift the spirits.
For example: Heading north along the Ouse takes you across several fields, then a metalled track and on to the footpath by the old Isfield Lock, now being restored by volunteers. Just beyond that is the weir, which this morning was thundering and white with spray. Or if you turn south at the end of the track, it brings you up a long slope through the beautiful forest of Sutton Hall Estate, and eventually the road from Barcombe to the Anchor Inn. But before that, a footpath on the left leads you back towards Isfield over the brow of the hill giving long views of the South Downs. Gently downhill again, over the site of the Roman Road, over Long Bridge, over White Bridge and back into the village.
If you want a walk south down the river, there are footpaths on both sides which join at the Anchor Inn bridge – down one side and back the other. Going east from the Parsonage takes you through the extensive fields of Roebuck Stud, through a small pine plantation and over the old tractor bridge spanning the Lavender Line. Or heading north-east a footpath leads you along the numerous meanders of the river Uck, eventually joining the disused section of the railway at ‘Dingley Dell’. Further on you pass the new waterside plantations of Constantia Manor and on to Owlesbury Farm. Great walk, but you need more than an hour.
So is there anything to recommend apart from the physical exercise, dog exercise, the beauty of the changing seasons and the muddy winter paths? Well personally I find that prayer comes more easily when I’m moving rather than still – especially intercession – holding people before God – family, friends, godchildren, colleagues, those unwell, bereaved or in difficulty. It’s surprising how many folk you can cover in an hour. And for some, perhaps no-one else is praying for them, one never knows.