Author Ronnie Reed
It was raining as I drove eastwards to work; fine misty stuff that shrouded the Downs and turned the fields grey. The wind was picking up white horses on the sea as I came down the hill from Seaford and looked down the Cuckmere valley, across the floodplain towards the cliffs. Not the perfect day for the first school visit of the year. We were expecting a group of children from a local school who were coming to ‘do’ rivers. Brave in January, but this year we seem to have more school visits to the Seven Sisters Country Park in January and February than in previous years. Perhaps the mild winter has encouraged teachers to get their children out of the classroom.
Certainly this group, as they spilled nosily out of their mini buses, seemed up for anything. Having said that, because two hours on a damp, windy hillside is a long time, I was kind and we did an introduction in the warmth of our Pump Barn which covered the background to their topic. But then it was outside. The rain had stopped and the teacher was up for taking the path over the top of the Downs so we had a good view of the meanders as we walked down the river. We survived! Then it was down into the lee of Foxhole to the barn we use for lunch. With full stomachs we were ready for the climb up from the barn to the ridge overlooking Cuckmere Haven and a view that takes your breath away; the coastguard cottages perched on top of Seaford Head, the mouth of the river, the lagoon and the sweep of the Haven Brow, the first of the Seven Sisters.
What did the group get out of it? Did they learn anything? Possibly. Were they impressed by the egret we saw or the redshank on the lagoon. Maybe. What they enjoyed were the puddles, the mud and being outside on a cold, grey, damp January day. Isn’t that enough?
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