Wild camping on the South Downs

In early April 2017 at about 2pm on a sunny Saturday afternoon I decided it was too nice a day, and too nice a forecast to stay at home. With some mildly frantic googling I settled on the South Downs and a wildcamp for an impromptu solo adventure.

2 hours later I was on a train with a rucksack, bivvy bag and almost half a plan. I caught the train in to Eastbourne with the intention of hiking the start of the South Downs way, stopping for for a pub dinner, before bivvying somewhere for the night.

Looking down a dirt path with grass and bushes on either side in the late afternoon sun.

Setting off from London at 3pm meant it was already gone 5 when I arrived and got on the path

A wooden sign points the way along the South Downs way in late afternoon sunlight.
A white horse extremely close to the camera with it’s nostrils covering half the frame.
Made a new friend.

An inquisitive horse near to where I found some dinner in a local pub.

A grassy hill in late evening just before the light is gone.
Looking down a grassy hill with a farm in the distance. A faint chalky line can be seen on the ground - part of the Long Man of Wilmington.
The Long Man of Wilmington just visible on the ground.

With the sun about to set, my eyes darted about for an appropriate discrete place to camp. You want some place not totally in view of the path, but seeing those spots from the path is tricky. There had been a race on the South Downs that day, so despite the dwindling light, there were still plenty of people about.

A chalky path recedes in to the distance on a hillside. The sun is just setting on the horizon.
Twilight over the South Downs. The sky is clear with yellow and orange hues on the horizon.

Eventually I found a doughnut shaped rise and indentation in the ground (a burial mound?) - elongated enough to hide a bivvy bag in the centre. With a pretty stunning view over the countryside to the north.

A bivvy bag and rucksack sit in a hollow depression in the grass in the last of the evening light. The sky is dark blue and calm.
A photo at sunrise of Ed Horsford sitting on a grassy hill with a cup in hand looking over a hill.
Small flowers blossom in the morning sun.
A solitary sheep looks towards the photographer. A wire fence divides the two.
A paraglider stands on the ground with a large sail inflated overhead.
Looking down a greenish-blue river, with rotting wooden posts in the foreground.
A small faded orange life raft moored on the side of the river Ouse.

I’d like to eventually complete the full South Downs way this way - though haven’t managed any more sections just yet.