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    CHICCHANTAL   29,153
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Mistresses Overdone it

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Sunday, February 17, 2013

Well, I'm writing this before the trauma of yesterday's events blanks it from my mind. So here goes.

Stonecot and I meet up at 9.05am (I'm five minutes late. This is normal practice. Stonecot is usually half an hour early except when she's an hour late. Look, shall I just get on with it?) and take the train to Merstham, a village in Surrey. I've been buying maps in Stanford's again, and have discovered that the North Downs Way goes along a ridge of hills all the way to Box Hill, which is where started a hike, got lost, and didn't meet a gruffalo.

You'll have to excuse my rather convoluted style. I'm really not recovered yet and probably never will be.

The start of the walk is really near Merstham station, which is great because we both hate having to walk a long way to get to the walk proper. We walk up a lane and across a golf course. It's a mild (10C) spring day, bits of blue sky, gentle climb up a hill.

I'm twiddling a walking stick lent to me by Stonecot who is expecting Mud. I think she's a bit of a pessimist but we quickly arrive at a muddy path that proves her right. Squelch (I am running out of verbs that mean 'to walk muddily' so if you can think of any, please let me know) along.

Emerge at length by a little thatched house which has had a thatched bird on it that has lost a bit of its straw so you can see how it was constructed, with a chicken wire frame.

A notice tells us this is Gatton Park, and we try to remember which of the royal family owns it, then we get to another notice telling us the National Trust owns it www.nationaltrust
so it turns out we've been confusing it with Gatcombe Park. We lose the path in a development of houses and a private school and someone redirects us. There are some goats in a field, and they may or may not be Mrs Marley and her kids. I never saw the point of goats till I developed a taste for goat cheese. Stonecot tells me an amusing story about fried goat.

Keep on up a woodland track now and stop to look at the view, sitting on a convenient bench placed there for that purpose.

I observe that the view is very Jane Austen and Stonecot comments that she can't stand Jane Austen, which I think is very unfortunate of her but that's what she's like. We exchange reminiscences about classics we have loathed, mainly because we 'did' them at school (me: Wuthering Heights; Stonecot: Shakespeare. All of him. In honour of this, the title of this blog is a spin on Twelfth Night which we both did and I loved it, she didn't) and get up and keep going. We're now climbing Reigate Hill, Stonecot informs me (she knows the area well but from a car, not from a mud puddle) and we have been climbing for some time, so lucky us, no steep climb to speak of.

At length we come to a tea 'ut.

This is a National Trust tea 'ut so it's a better class of tea 'ut than the tea 'ut you get in Epping Forest. We only want tea, but it's clear that if you asked for a latte at this tea hut, they'd have one. I get the tea and Stonecot bags a table and we look at the view and eat our sandwiches. It's a wonderful view.

Stonecot has brought us each some cake but I have also had lentil soup so I decide she can save my cake for later. We set off over a little painted bridge above a motorway. The first bit of the walk, we hardly saw a soul, but this bit is busy and you can see why because it's utterly gorgeous.

We come to a little temple thing which is apparently the Inglis Memorial and has a beautiful painted ceiling inside and another wowser view, which everyone is looking at. In the distance we can see a quarry, which we will pass, and one side of Box Hill. It doesn't look too far away.

So we tear ourselves away from the view and keep going, through woodland with scenic bits

and find ourselves at length going down a steep track, through which the chalk skeleton of the hillside is clearly visible.

It's VERY steep, and I'm hobbling along taking baby steps. The topsoil has been washed off the path and it's rocky and frankly unpleasant. We meet a couple coming the other way and the guy says as he passes me 'hope I'm near the top'. I don't like to tell him he's a third of the way up at most. So we get to the bottom and there's a path branching off and we debate with the map and Stonecot's posh iphone which way to go and there's no denying it, the path that leads straight up the hill again is the one. Luckily it only goes straight up for about five metres, it then turns along a field and becomes muddy. Very very muddy.

We do not enjoy this bit at all. We usually manage to go at about 2.5 mph, but this bit takes us a long time. Some of the puddles are over the top of my boots. Guess how I know this.

Stonecot is picking her way round the puddles and hanging on to the hedge or fence. We get to a better bit of path, and it's zigzagging about on the map and we keep following the signposts and turning this way and that. I take a pic of some interesting roots.

The path then takes us down what I would describe as an escarpment, therefore not something you would normally choose to walk down, being steep. It levels out and at length we walk across a field, along another bit of wood and out on to the road at Betchworth. One of us observes wistfully that you can get the train from Betchworth but the other is hellbent on self-destruction.

We come to a wicket gate. It is in the middle of this.

Walk along a bit and find a new bit of path that is across the top of the disused quarry. We're nearly there, we think.

Keep walking. And walking.

Walk up a hill. By this time we are both seriously shattered. Come at length to a grave at the top of a hill which turns out to be a horse grave, not a human. There's a seat near it and I admire the view.

When I mention to Stonecot that she is facing away from it she says, mutinously, 'I've seen it before'. It's been a long walk.

We set off again, and keep walking, and about an hour later I'm feeling a bit worried. There's no sign of the bits of Box Hill I was expecting to see. We meet a group of 20 somethings and ask directions but they don't know which way we should go. We follow them up steps set in the earth and keep walking along.

By now, the sun is on the horizon. I notice cars parked through the trees and we turn off and Stonecot recognises the place from her biker days (everyone has a past but mine isn't nearly as colourful as hers) and directs us along the road. We arrive at the cafe at the top of Box Hill long after it has shut. Fortunately, the loo is still open. By now, it's twilight.

It's eight years since I was at Box Hill, and I have to remember where the start of the track down to the station is. Luckily I get it right. We head off down that hill, a quarter mile long, like greased lightening and reach the road at the bottom more or less as night falls, passing someone on her way up it, bizarrely enough.

Get to the station and it's 40 minutes to the next train. There is, however, a seat.

We hiked (count them) 14 miles, 35,000 steps. It took us seven hours, much slower than usual but that was the squidginess of the paths. My memory is also squidgy - I'm sure I've got some bits of this in the wrong order.

At 1pm this morning, I woke up with excruciating cramps in both thighs. Just my body telling me what it thinks of unwonted exercise.

I'm taking it easy today.

I ate my cake as I wrote this blog and it was very nice.

Member Comments About This Blog Post:
CATNCAG 10/14/2013 1:36PM

    Wow u ladies r my inspiration!
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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LAFFWITHLINDA 9/16/2013 12:05AM

    I enjoyed reading your blog. Hope you are fully recovered.

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SUPERSYLPH 7/24/2013 1:01PM

    Thank you for sharing!

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ELAINE725 3/27/2013 12:22PM

    Beautiful pictures. Thank you for sharing.

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JERICHO1991 3/2/2013 6:51PM

    What a journey! Impressive.

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MOIRA2 3/2/2013 5:45AM

    Thank you for sharing your walking adventure. I love your writing style! I visited England in 1987 and miss the scenery. Your photos are wonderful. emoticon

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EFFRAYECHILDE 2/28/2013 10:32AM

    emoticon walk as always.

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MARYHENNIG 2/26/2013 10:50PM

  Just love following along on your walks!

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AZTLAN777 2/26/2013 8:08PM


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AMANDEES76 2/26/2013 2:15PM

    It's been awhile since I've read one of your blogs and I have to tell you how much I love to read about your journey. You take us all on a visual tour of what you do and you are an amazing inspiration. If I ever get to England I hope to be in touch with you so that maybe we can take one of your marvelous hikes.


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ALLYSONRW 2/25/2013 10:56AM

    Great story and beautiful pictures!

Your legs will recover before you know it and will be that much stronger emoticon

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ROBB1N 2/25/2013 12:10AM


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MEEMAH2013 2/24/2013 8:26PM

    Great Story! I felt like I was there!!

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BETH49 2/24/2013 8:06PM

    Sounds like a wonderful hike, with a wonderful friend, an adventure to boot.
Your writing makes me feel there... Thank you emoticon

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-SHOREIDO- 2/24/2013 12:01PM

    I could read this 50 X and still find enjoyment in it! You're a great writer!!

Thanks again for sharing this with all of us Sparkers!!
Ginny emoticon

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DESERTFLOWERG 2/23/2013 11:41PM

    Quite an adventure!

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SUNNYWBL 2/23/2013 5:58PM

    What an amazing and long walkie that you took!

My thighs would be screaming along with yours after this trip!

emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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REDQUEEN2262 2/23/2013 9:08AM

    I loved taking this hike with you - I wished I was walking it with you - mud and all! thank you for sharing. emoticon

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ALIHIKES 2/22/2013 8:15PM

    Wow what an amazing (and muddy) adventure. I haven't done 14 miles in a LONG time! But the photos were lovely, and what a great story! emoticon

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THROOPER62 2/22/2013 7:00PM


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ANTHEE62 2/22/2013 3:40PM

    Great pictures and amusing blog. 14 miles! Wow! Good for you. Rest up!

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RODYANNE 2/22/2013 2:30PM

  Great photos and story.

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KATIWONT 2/22/2013 1:43PM

    WOW! 14 miles? 7 hours? Holy Cow---or goat, as the case may be ;=}

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AMANDACOETZER 2/22/2013 7:07AM


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LIFETIMER54 2/22/2013 6:50AM

  emoticon emoticon

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LIVELYGIRL2 2/21/2013 10:41PM

  that is some hike by golly. Too bad I can't walk on over to your house with my chicken noodle soup ( homemade noodles too ), comfort food...

14 miles is alot. Someday I expect you to get skinny, if you don't have too many scones, pastries , and cake. But you could get away with some emoticon emoticon extra on that distance .

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CHOCOHIPPO 2/21/2013 9:52PM

    Amazing hike and gorgeous pictures!

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GOOSIEMOON 2/21/2013 8:36PM


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MOLLYSPAL 2/21/2013 7:06PM

  Thanks for sharing your walk with us! emoticon

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KALLIE1958AR 2/21/2013 6:11PM


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GRAPLEIRIS 2/21/2013 5:18PM

    gorgeous scenery...not so gorgeous mud.


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JULIA1154 2/21/2013 4:24PM

  Too bad there wasn't a massage service to help you while away the 40 minute wait until your train. It sounds as though you could have used it!

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IAMWINNING 2/21/2013 4:22PM

    Wow! Are you training for the Army? 14 miles is a loooong way to go in one hike. I'm glad you have a friend to hike with, as I'm sure that makes it more fun. As always, I enjoyed your pictures and commentary. Thanks.

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JANNERUN 2/21/2013 3:52PM

    Thanks so much for sharing your adventure and the pictures! Hope your legs have recovered!

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PRAIRIECROCUS 2/21/2013 2:33PM

    emoticon for posting your fabulous photos, and creative story !
Wonderful !

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    Thanks for sharing your adventure?

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SJKENT1 2/21/2013 1:31PM

    What a journey!!!! hope you get some good rest before the next one emoticon

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TINY67 2/21/2013 10:49AM

    Beautiful, muddy in places, but still beautiful. Thanks.

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TXMEMAW6 2/21/2013 10:04AM

    Beautiful country. Thank you so much for sharing it with us! I hope to visit there some day as I have been doing geneology and found lots of ancestors over there. The pictures are absolutely georgeous, except maybe the mud Congratulations on being able to walk that far and live to tell about it. I know your cake had to taste really good after your eventful day!

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PYNETREE 2/21/2013 9:50AM

    Oh My! You amaze me! I Love that you share these LONG walks with us. I am in Awe of your strength, stamina!


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WALLINMW 2/21/2013 9:02AM

  Great blog!

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CHRISTINECAN 2/21/2013 8:55AM

    I so appreciate being able to peer in at your walks. Thank you so much!

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JERICHO1991 2/21/2013 7:25AM

    What a beautiful way to enjoy exercise.

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_MOBII_ 2/21/2013 7:11AM

    It sounds like a fantastic outing! Thank you for sharing!

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CYDNEYLEECH 2/21/2013 5:18AM

    Oh my goodness. That is certainly a long walk. I hope you have recovered from it by now.

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BRENDA_G50 2/21/2013 2:01AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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TLG71567 2/20/2013 9:51PM

    Thank you for your lovely post. It reminded me of a long ago trip to England when I was 21. Such a lovely country.
This also reminded me of a bike ride that I went on when I was 15. My step-sister asked me to go for a ride. I figured it would be about 5 miles. No problem. In the end it ended up being about 50 miles. I thought I was going to die, but I didn't even know where I was so I couldn't stop. When we finally got home and I got off the bike I actually fell on the ground and couldn't stand up. I can definitely relate to the cramps in your legs.
Hope you are recovering. Congrats on accomplishing it. : )

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BILLETWIFE 2/20/2013 8:57PM

    So much fun to read and see. Thanks for sharing that experience with all of us. It sounds like something that would happen to me.

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CSWANK53 2/20/2013 8:50PM

    Thanks for sharing your adventure! I especially loved the pictures! I had a similar experience years ago when some co-workers and I went for a walk on our lunch break. Of course I suggested we walk over a hill which did not take us to where I thought it would... 2 hrs later we got back to our office and we were tired but I know we did not walk 14 miles! I bet that cake tasted mighty good!

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CINDYBEL 2/20/2013 6:22PM

    Glad you found the train station. emoticon

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