Keith Mc Kenna and Sally Dench are the founders of Footprints of Sussex with a lifetime of experience of the South Downs and leaders of the annual walk of the 100-mile length of the South Downs Way for many years. They gave a well-practised talk which included a whistle-stop tour of the archaeology of the South Downs, and the history of its development over the centuries.
They discussed the lie of the land, its importance for recreation, cultural ties and flora and fauna. All this was illustrated with a plethora of photographs and poetry extracts. The closing stage of the talk even included an excerpt from Mahler’s Fifth Symphony as background to a huge collage of slides from the annual walk.
The wealth of information and detail is impossible to reproduce in a short report. Suffice it to say, the talk was so absorbing that it overran the time allotted without demur from the audience. There were lots of titbits, such as:
John Constable painted seascapes and windmills whilst living in Brighton
Many paths converge on the local church, those used by the vicar and squire on horseback becoming the bridleways of modern times, the rest remaining as footpaths
About 2 million people live within sight of the Downs
Roe deer have round antlers whereas those on fallow deer are flat.
The vote of thanks was given by Jean White, with a huge round of applause..
An unprecedented number of members turned up intent on hearing this talk, so much so that the Centre Manager regretfully had to invoke fire regulations, leading to a number having to be turned away. Steps are in hand to minimise a recurrence.
I am grateful to Keith McKenna for generously giving me access to a large file of his photos, some of which are reproduced below.