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|A Straight Line Walk Across Brighton
by Paul K Lyons
2 - Bagging trigpoints, Wick (or Uicus) Bottoms and a spot of land reclassification
I turn south along the trackway for a few meters, until reaching a bridleway going due west, and very close to the 450 northing. A solitary magpie sits on a lone hawthorn bush. Some kind of brassica crop is struggling through the stony earth in the field on my right. The field on my left has been freshly ploughed, and, at a break in the fence, I take a short diversion to an Ordnance Survey triangulation point (112 metres above sea level). This is the gentle dome top of Mount Pleasant. On early maps, however, it is called The Round Hill, which describes it perfectly - a lovely open spot, with even more splendid views across Woodingdean, and towards the coast.
Surprisingly, or perhaps not, there is a website that logs visits to trig points - TrigpointingUK. The home page says this: 'Welcome! This site is designed for those people who are unable to walk past a trigpoint without bagging it! On these pages, you will find information about the 'sport' of trigpointing, and be able to log your finds. We have a database containing the locations of most of the trigpoints in Great Britain, but if you find one that we don't know about, please add it to our database.' Of over 7,000 trig points listed on this quirky website, Mount Pleasant ranks around 1,300 with only six visits logged. One of them, from April 2004, describes it as follows: 'Nice location, seems to be popular with dog walkers on the bridleway. Had to look for a break in the fence to get into the correct field and then had to follow the tyre marks in the crops to get to the trig.' None of the comments on TrigpointingUK, however, mention the graffiti. The trig point itself stands about chest high and is white, but brilliant blue, ragged letters fill up the four sides. I have to walk round and round to read what they say: 'Now Africa. Planet of the apes. World detonates nuclear bomb inside bulldozer.'
Back on the bridleway, I walk gently at first and then steeply down towards a valley. The fields of brassica on my right extend all the way north to Warren Road. The empty ploughed field in front of me, on the next hillside, has beautifully-patterned furrow lines in the deep brown earth (with no chalk evident), they all run parallel to each other, in the same east-west line as I'm walking. And, on my left, the ploughed earth at the top of Mount Pleasant has given way to a field of lush green long grass. In the distance, towards the south, I see a car on a road on the sky line, and although it feels like I'm in the middle of a very peaceful quiet scene, the effect is spoilt by traffic noise carried by the wind. At the bottom, in the valley dip, I come to a t-junction of paths. I can imagine where my westerly route should take me, but the only public footpath is one running north to south - along Wick Bottom - and I must make a choice. I decide on a left turn, towards the south, since this will, all twists and turns considering, keep me closest to the 450 northing.
Early maps of the area show two Wick Bottoms - one here and one along where Farmer Road now runs. But, by the second half of the 19th century, maps were showing that the latter one had been renamed Happy Valley! 'Wick' is a name that has evolved most recently from 'Wik' (the Earl of Dorset bought the rights to 'Le Wik' in the early 17th century, apparently), but originally it is probably derived from the Latin for a cluster of houses ('uicus', a Roman word which also led to 'villa', 'village', 'vicinity' and others).
To the southwest now, there's a golf course and half a dozen golfers. In the field to my left, a dozen horses are idly looking around, some dressed in blankets, some not. At a junction of footpaths, I talk to a lady with several dogs. She points to the ridge between here and the sea, and says there are lovely views from the top. I turn right, to get back on a westerly course, around the outskirts of the golf course. I'm quite a way from the 450 northing, and looking across the golf course, I wonder if I could legally have cut across the golfing land to keep closer to my route. But, interestingly, the golf course owners won a legal case in 2003, decided by The Planning Inspectorate, against the Countryside Agency for having wrongly classified its land on a map as 'open country'.
by Paul K Lyons
A Straight Line Walk Across Brighton - along the 450 northing
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