Wednesday, 29 October 2014

NDW Day 3: Box Hill to Mersham

Another beautiful autumn day for a walk...back up my old friend/nemesis, Box Hill.  

I left the Westhumble Station and picked the trail back up at the Box Hill car park, which had about 200 school kids getting ready to trek it up the hill, teachers in tow.  I practically ran up the Hill just to get ahead of the squacking mass of giggles and screeches, my feet barely touching the stepping stones.  

Box Hill was just as steep as the last time I climbed it, but starting at the Stepping Stones side proved a little easier since they just had a giant staircase the entire way up.

And the views, ah the views!  What a perfectly brilliant day to be out!


Once I got past Box Hill, the crowds thinned and I once again had the trail to myself for most of the day, aside from an occasional dog walker.

The walk was rather nice- it went past a ghost of a Lime Works and quarry, then up a steep beswitchbacked trailed up Colley Hill, then it stayed up high and went through a few National Trust meadows the rest of the day.

The only downside being that the M25, the main ring road that circles London, was roaring down at the bottom of the hill.

I stopped for lunch under a tree with amazing views stretching all the way to the South Downs, and put a few rows in on a pair of socks I've been chipping away at on my train rides out to the trail:

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And hey, I'm only 66 miles away from Dover!  That's probably how the crow flies, but it's not too far off the walking distance.  The North Downs is unique in the fact that it has a loop at the end- you can go North to Canterbury (as any good pilgrim should) or South and walk along the chalk cliffs to Dover, or just do the whole loop if it pleases you.  It's like a choose your own adventure book.

I did stumble upon the Millennium Stones, a set of standing "stones" in a field for the ages to wonder about.  Although...the fact that the artists' mission statement is on the internet means that it probably won't be a future place of pagan worship.

I stopped to pick berries and to give an old longears a good scratch:

....then ended my hike in the town of Merstham, a busy town of intersecting roads right on the M25.  It suddenly became a point of stress that I had to cross several busy roads to get to the train station, and I seemed to be the only stinking hippie coming off the trail this town had seen in a while.  It was warm enough on this day to really get my fragrance up after two hill climbs, and the tube ride back into London was lovely as everyone gave me plenty of elbow room/armpit wafting room.

So, the next stretch of trail I've been dreading: it near 20 miles (but not terribly hilly) from Mertsham to Otford.  It's not the distance, it is the fact that the M25 does not leave your site the entire time.  I want to have the personal satisfaction of having walked the entire trail, but I don't want to really spend 20 miles shadowing one of the busiest roads in England.

What to do?


After that?

Charge up the Ipod.  Put on the game face, get it over with.

I'll get to it one of these days.    

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