Saturday, May 21, 2011

Walking in England, The Centurion Way

What a wonderful place England is for walking, as long as the weather cooperates. I was lucky this past April to get in three superb walks without getting rained on at all! My second medium-distance walk was The Centurion Way, which follows a disused railway route north from the city of Chichester in West Sussex for a little over 6 miles to the hamlet of West Dean.

First things first: after leaving the Chichester railway station (after a scenic ride south-west from London's Victoria station), you have to follow the signed route towards the north.

Walking and cycling paths in Britain are very well-signed, so it was easy for me to find my way to the start of The Centurion Way.

Here's the map of the route I wanted to follow. No worries about getting lost here.

It's a bit of a low bridge here for trains nowadays, but it really was a railroad many years back!

The Centurion Way was named by a local student to reference the pathway's history as part of a route used by Roman soldiers some two thousand years ago. Now the line is marked with sculptures representing the history of the region - these chaps with spades, for instance.

More artwork! Showing critters of the area, I guess!

It's mid-April, and spring had really sprung in England by this time. The path has turned from asphalt to grass, but the scenery has opened up to reveal some lovely West Sussex farmland.

From grass to gravel and dirt, Centurion Way continues north for several miles before making a sharp west towards a main road. A clue to the path's railway heritage is seen here with the remains of an old bridge over the original train route, now used as a bridle path for riders.

What a wonderful walk this is! It's easy to turn the walk into a stroll, and hang about here and there to admire the scenery, enjoy the stream and listen to the sheep.

The northern portion of The Centurion Way runs parallel to an "A" road.

It's the end of the pathway, but it's well worth continuing north for just a little bit further. Do you see that white building in the distance?

Here we are: my destination. Nothing like a nice pub at the end of a fine English walk, and this one is a gem. It's The Selsey Arms, they feature Real Ale and Real Thai Cuisine, and it just so happens to be five minutes past noon. Yippee!

The pub owner married a cook from Thailand, and the menu offers some wonderful authentic dishes. I love Thai food, and this plate of spicy rice noodles with chicken was a delight after nearly three hours of walking. The Tom Yam soup was excellent as well.

I didn't forget the Real Ale either. This is a pint of Wadworth's 6X, highly recommended by locals in the pub. Yes, it was delicious! I could quite happily have spent the afternoon sipping this and chatting with the friendly folks there about the area.

Here are the Real Ale taps. I could have slummed myself down to Stella or Carlsberg, but hey, I'm on holiday here. Goddard's is a brewery from the Isle of Wight. I tried a half-pint of Scrumdiggity, but the 6X was the winner for me. I would return to a Goddard's product later in my visit, and enjoy their Fuggle-Dee-Dum with cousins during a very nice evening in Lymington. If I recall correctly, the Wadworth 6X originates in nearby Wiltshire, or "just down the road" as a fellow imbiber told me.

I recommend doing some research before you set out on these wonderful walks. Such as, is there a pub I can visit afterwards. And is there a bus I can take after that? Happily, a double-decker stops right at The Selsey Arms every half-hour and makes the trip back towards the Chichester railway station an easy affair. All in all, a really super day out and I hope to come back here again one day!

Last but not least, for those out there with speakers and video access, here's a clip of the sights and sounds of West Sussex from The Centurion Way!

NEXT: Hertfordshire Hogs and Horses!

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