Having just walked up the scarp slope of the South Downs near Chanctonbury Ring, I met a rambler who asked the way to Cissbury Ring. I referred him to a nearby fingerpost, but it wasn’t much help.
When you tread our ancient byways and walk our ancient hills,
You look out for a sign to show the way.
You spot a distant fingerpost and stride in hope towards it
To read what helpful guidance it will say.
But sometimes1, when you reach it, it is no help at all:
Four fingerboards point north, south, east and west,
On one is carved a message: “Walk this way” as all it says.
The trouble is that so do all the rest2.
Where does this footpath go to, is what you want to know.
It puts you in an existential flap –
The only thing’s to toss a coin and see where chance will take you.
Next time, you really ought to take a map . . .
1. Fortunately, many signposts on other paths do offer more useful information. But not this one.
2. Actually, two say “South Downs Way”, one says “Public Bridleway”, and the third says “Restricted Byway” (see photo above).