Friday, 31 October 2014

NDW Day 4: Merstham to Oxted

Now for the boring bit of the trail.

I was kind of dreading this part of the hike that closely follows the M25, the enormous ribbon of motorway that encircles the city of London.  I guess having a trail with such easy access to the city means these small inconveniences are bound to happen.  

I couldn't have picked a better day for it- late October and I'm still putting on SPF.

However, the one wrench in my plan was that I didn't get an earlier start.  I was planning on knocking 20 lonely miles out, but I reached the halfway point a little after 1pm....meaning I would have walked the last miles in the dark.  I quit after a mere 9 miles of walking rather then deal with that.  The clocks were set back last weekend and I just haven't adjusted yet, but the sun is dead and gone by 5pm now.

The trail was a little boggy in places but it climbed and stayed on the ridge for most of the walk, and I did enjoy myself.  You couldn't as much see the motorway as much as you could hear the constant drone of it at the foot of the hill.  Visions I had of walking right next to the road ended up being false, and it was a pretty countryside walk, if not a little noisy.

And looky there!  You can see London, sprawled out in front of you from the top of your first hill.

 Rather foolishly, I did not bring my camera, so these are all from the phone as I thought I would just end up with a lot of pictures of semi trucks.   So, pictures aren't the best today.

I had the trail to myself, too.  I saw a handful of people on horseback at one point, and bumped into one other through hiker doing day trips from London.

It was just so pleasant out,  I thought I was being rather pokey, but I ended up doing a respectable 2.6 mph.  If I kept that up without stopping to rest the dogs, I would have made it to Otford just after sunset.  Instead, I turned off to Oxted and took the train back to London.   Despite the beautiful late-October weather, the trail had turned off Oxted downs and was in site of the M25 for a long stretch, and I just wasn't inspired to keep going.

Not the most amazing day of walking, but any day walking in the countryside beats anything else I could think of doing, so it was all around a winning sort of day.  Plus, those half-hour train rides are adding up to be a rather spectacular lace shawl.

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