A Glorious Day on the North Downs Way

Just fantastic. Fabulous. And somewhat furious at the end – running to catch a train!

But all good. Indeed, taking a train to one end of a trail, hiking for 9 hours, and picking up another train was delightful.

More importantly was the company. David has been my friend since we first crossed paths on the stage at the Goodenough College Dramatic Society. I believe it was Arcadia, by Tom Stoppard.

John is a friend of his who I met in October on a hike in Arnside – at David & Liz’s wedding. We managed to not die in the wash there, so it was good to join up for another adventure this time, closer to the Metropolis.

We took a trail that has been traversed for hundreds if not thousands of years, crossing the countryside just south of London, on the ridge of hills known as the North downs. We started in Marstham and wound up in Shoreham, about 21 miles.

Incredible countryside. You could have been hours from London, but here we were – peering through some hedges at the Shard and Gherkin and the rest, in the distance.

Through field and forest, along scramble and along road, we put on the miles and put on the step-totals. And I must say I’m sore on this day after. Last evening was rough going up stairs!

But the day was a fine fine time. Here are some pictures.

We also went through woodsy areas and found some cool artefacts, like this trampoline!

Here was the tail end of a rape crop (canola oil). The plants were about chest-high.

David was having a great time:

What did this mean? Flour. Apparently. Quite curious.

Mystery notwithstanding, we carried on.

Can we get more gorgeous?

Here is maize (corn) in the chalk soil of the area. Very cool to see. This was the only one field of maize we found.

And here a real ruin to decorate the scene…

Fresh in a massive hillside field of wheat. It was dizzying. I was loving it!

We took a break at 1:30 for lunch at Botey or Botsley Hill – a tavern from the 16th century. Once owned by John Gresham a Sheriff of London. Now a trust of 1800 acres and a working farm. Great food and a couple of drinks.

Onward!

Here’s the Titsey Farm surrounding the pub:

We met a few sheep along the way.

More of the territory: barley on the right, pasture on the left. Probably not currently grazed but that was the history of the slope I’m sure.

And close-up of the barley. Amazingly beautiful:

Here’s some wheat. It was the most common crop we saw.

It was getting on, and David had made some calculations. We would need to speed up. Maybe take a shortcut along a road. The ladies, and the babies, were waiting. So we picked up the pace!

Here are the lads at the end of the day. Almost didn’t get this shot in – David’s phone was saying we were .3 miles and 7 minutes from the train station. Bottoms up! And we ran onward.

We did make it. Caught the convenient conveyance back to the city. Whew!

I never tire of the British countryside. Thank you!

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