A Bellocian Day-Off
After lunch I went for a ten mile ramble on the South Downs (those who know me will be amazed by this, since I'm not exactly 'Fr Sporty'). I made an epic ascent up the eastern face of Chanctonbury Ring, which stands at a majestic 700 feet (!). This hill, which was once an iron age fort and the site of a Roman temple, has a bad reputation, due to its more recent connection with UFO watchers and other strange goings-on.
According to one legend, it was created by the Devil, who was furious at the conversion of England thanks to 'apostles' like St Cuthman (see my separate post). The Devil became so angry that he decided to dig a channel by night to let in the sea and drown the Christians of Sussex. Fortunately, St Cuthman found out the Devil’s plan and tricked him by holding a candle behind a sieve and knocking the local cock off its perch. When the Devil saw the light and heard the cock crow, he fled the scene, leaving his great plan unfinished and giving us a complex of hills (the mounds of earth from his digging), including Chanctonbury Ring and the nearby ‘Devil’s Dyke.’
Still, on reaching the summit, I blessed the surroundings and then lay down in the sunshine to read the Venerable Bede - I'm preparing a talk on St Augustine of Canterbury for a conference, so I thought I'd better do some homework. It took several hours to get back - but it was a most satisfying day and I even felt strangely healthy after my exertions!