It was yesterday that the Old Bat and I attended the monthly lunch for people connected with Scouting in Brighton. There are usually between about 20 and 40 people turn up for the meal, which is at a different pub each month. The venue this month was the pub at the edge of the Devil's Dyke. a deep, dry valley cut into the South Downs and a popular spot to visit. This was the view along the edge of the Downs to the west when we arrived:
I wonder, do you know the story of how the Devil's Dyke was formed? It involved a spat between Cuthbert, who lived in a village just north of the Downs and was later made a saint, and the Devil.
Back in the mists of time (I know - that's a cliche but I like it so I'll repeat it!) Back in the mists of time, an old lady (some say she was a nun) lived the life of a hermit in a small cottage on top of the Downs. Cuthbert was in the habit of visiting her to encourage her in her prayerful life and one day, on his way to visit the old lady, he stopped to rest a little way off. He was admiring the view over the Weald, particularly noting the number of churches that had sprung up, when the Devil appeared beside him.
The Devil was furious because at one time the people of the Weald had worshipped him. He blamed Cuthbert, and announced that he would dig a passage through the Downs so that the sea would rush in and drown all the Christians in the Weald. Cuthbert struck a bargain and it was agreed that if the Devil could dig his channel before sunrise the next morning, he could reclaim the Weald. If he failed, the Devil was to leave Sussex for ever.
Cuthbert left the Devil digging furiously and went to visit the old lady. He asked her to make sure that she rose at a very early hour and asked that she should place a lighted candle in the window facing west.
The old lady did this. The Devil saw the light to the east and thought it was the rising sun. He had only dug halfway through the Downs, so he flung away his shovel (you can still see the mark where it hit the ground) and left Sussex, never to be seen again. The steep-sided valley that he dug is known still as the Devil's Dyke and is a popular tourist attraction just north of Brighton.
This picture shows the Dyke from the closed end: