Walk celebrates start of South Downs National Park

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A WALK is being held on Friday April 1 to celebrate the start of the South Downs National Park Authority.

The special event will also remember the 85th anniversary of the South Downs Society’s campaign to prevent a new town being built on the Seven Sisters.

All are welcome to take part in the walk which will take in East Dean, the Seven Sisters and Birling Gap.

Chairman of the South Downs Society Robert Cheesman said: “The campaign for a National Park for the South Downs has taken over sixty years, and on 1 April, a critical element of those many years of work falls into place.

“On this day, the National Park Authority becomes fully operational and takes on its legal powers.

“For over 80 years, we have called for the South Downs to be safeguarded, and as the National Park Society, we look forward to helping the new

“Authority achieve its goals of protecting the National Park, and helping the public to enjoy this very special part of Britain.”

The five mile celebratory walk will begin at 10.15am in East Dean village car park, just off Gilberts Drive.

It is close to the bus stop for the 12 and 12A buses, which run from Eastbourne and Brighton.

The walk is a steady climb to the Sarsen Stone Memorial, which pays tribute to the campaigners of 1926, and then goes along the Seven Sisters to Birling Gap where there will be a stop for refreshments.

Vice chair of the National Park Authority Charles Peck will be present to celebrate the day.

The South Downs National Park is one of fifteen National Parks in the UK.

It is administered by the South Downs National Park Authority which works to conserve and enhance the unique environment of the National Park, and in particular the special qualities of its landscape, wildlife and cultural heritage.

It will be the planning authority so it will consider all significant planning applications and may call-in others.

In 1926 the South Downs Society discovered developers had purchased the Crowlink Estate on the Seven Sisters and proposed building a new town there.

The society had just 28 days to raise £17,000 - £5m in today’s money – to buy the land back and protect it for the nation.

Thousands of people joined the Society’s campaign, including Rudyard Kipling, and after a massive public rally on the Seven Sisters, the money was raised, and the land purchased and donated to the National Trust.