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    CHICCHANTAL   28,222
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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:
BECCAR6 2/19/2013 5:05AM

    Excellent blog and great pictures. You deserved the cake!

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BLUEJEAN99 2/19/2013 1:58AM

    Much Ado About Mudding ! emoticon

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NOTSPEEDY 2/19/2013 12:20AM

    I like the word squidginess. Great blog. Didn't realize there are so many hikers in England.

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ILIKETOZUMBA 2/19/2013 12:08AM

    Wow, what an adventure! Gorgeous AND draining! Glad you both made it back okay and got to enjoy some cake. :)

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REGILIEH 2/18/2013 11:47PM

    You certainly deserved the cake!!! WOW!!! emoticon emoticon emoticon

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JAMER123 2/18/2013 11:12PM

    I certainly enjoy going on these walks with you. it;s fun to see a part of the world I haven't been to! I thank you!!
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NIKKIJ55 2/18/2013 10:54PM

    Love the pictures and your descriptions

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JOYB19 2/18/2013 10:53PM

    Wonderful - absolutely wonderful! Thanks for taking me along with you and your friend on your mental hike down a 14-mile memory lane! Beautiful pictures - well worth a second journey! Can't wait for the next!

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LADYMARCIA1 2/18/2013 10:45PM

    I live in Northern CA. I read this blog as if I was reading a Jane Austen novel. And let me say, I am probably one of the biggest Jane Austen fans in the states. I've seen Pride and Prejudice at least 2000 times I'm sure. So all I could think of was the walks she so charmingly recounts in most all of her books. The soggy fields and paths of yesteryear in her charming details of the countryside.
I'm glad you finally made it. I was kept in suspense all the way through. That's a long hike. Thanks for such enjoyment and beautiful pictures of your home. I truly enjoyed this little adventure to my most ordinary life. emoticon

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ANDREAG89 2/18/2013 10:41PM

    The benefit of my reading your colorfully written and photograph-heavy blogs is that I have virtually hiked with you, without the discomfort of leg cramps the next day.

What a fantastic hike you had, and luckily, you have this blog entry and muddy boots and socks (I'm assuming, being as you stepped in a deep puddle) as proof.

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1MYSTERY_LADY 2/18/2013 10:39PM


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KERRYG155 2/18/2013 10:30PM

    I can see how you made the favorites list! Great writing and pictures. Looks like a beautiful walk (minus the mud, of course).

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HEALTHYSLIM2 2/18/2013 9:38PM

    Oh boy - to me, it sounded like you got WAY more of a 'walk' than you had originally intended! But thank goodness your friend had provided that walking stick for you!!
Well, at least you got your fitness minutes in for the week.
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That was MORE than a half marathon!!
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Enjoy a good rest today!

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LISA_FRAME 2/18/2013 9:21PM

  Thanks for sharing your photos.

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HEARTS116 2/18/2013 9:16PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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CAROLJ35 2/18/2013 9:15PM

    Oh, this is so interesting!!! Love the photos and Thanks for sharing!!!

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ONLYTEMPORARY 2/18/2013 8:53PM

    Beautiful scenery

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WILSONWR 2/18/2013 8:53PM

    What a hike! I bet you could hardly move the next day!

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AYULE0 2/18/2013 8:15PM

    What a wonderful trip through the English countryside....I could almost picture it!
My husbands family is from England and my husband went to college there...I hope we can visit some day!
Congrats on such a sounds tiring, but oh so enjoyable!

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FAVORITEAUNT84 2/18/2013 7:25PM

    I do enjoy Jane Austen and that was he first thing that came to mind when I saw that pic, even before reading your comments on it! emoticon

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JESSICABOOTY 2/18/2013 7:01PM

    Aren't thigh cramps just the worst? You have to jump up and down and it's agonizing. So good for you and enjoy the cake. emoticon

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PCASEY7 2/18/2013 6:27PM

    Loved the blog and admire your determination to keep going and not start to cry!

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NICOLA747 2/18/2013 6:06PM

  I like your writing. Thank you ! !

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BOLEBRON 2/18/2013 5:57PM

    Beautiful pictures. Thanks for sharing.

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VIKIHUTCHISON 2/18/2013 5:47PM

    Sounds wonderful! :D

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ALIDOSHA 2/18/2013 5:01PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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NANCYPAT1 2/18/2013 4:56PM

    Great blog

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BEAUTY_WITHIN 2/18/2013 4:55PM

    wow! Awesome picutes! Sounds like a very long, exhausting walk! But the pics are gorgous!

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BARBARASDIET 2/18/2013 4:52PM


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KHALIA2 2/18/2013 4:45PM

  Nice Post! emoticon Beautiful pictures!

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SUZYMOBILE 2/18/2013 4:37PM

    I'm always amazed at how you have these endless walks and end up finding a station just when it seems all hope is lost! Of course, I would've given up long before.

Glad you had your cake and ate it, too.

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SCHOPPEK 2/18/2013 4:20PM

    Thank you so much for sharing this! The pictures are gorgeous! I could walk/hike/squelch/ with you anytime! emoticon

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SHOAPIE 2/18/2013 4:18PM


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COCOONGIRL 2/18/2013 4:13PM

    WOW!! That was so nice to read....thank you for the pictures....I would have died halfway through!!

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NESARIAN 2/18/2013 4:10PM


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WAYSOFGRACE 2/18/2013 3:57PM

    Wonderful blog!! I had forgotten what it was like to walk like that, because it's been far too long for me!

Having seen your pictures, I now want to get back out there and seriously walk!

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TEDYBEAR2838 2/18/2013 3:55PM

    The photographs were FABULOUS! Thanks for sharing with your SP Friends emoticon

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CINDHOLM 2/18/2013 2:34PM

    emoticon So much for your wonderful Blog and sharing the beautiful pictures of your hike(walk).. emoticon emoticon

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JOANNHUNT 2/18/2013 2:20PM

    emoticon pictures emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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MOMFAN 2/18/2013 2:19PM

    A walk on country roads took me about 7 miles. I so didn't expect the road to go as far as it did and the last mile was all uphill. It was cold and started raining about a half hour before I got back home. Didn't see all the lovely view you did!

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PATRICIAANN46 2/18/2013 2:18PM

  emoticon for the smiles and for taking us along on your "Walk". You are so descriptive and so much fun.

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PROSPERME 2/18/2013 2:08PM

  Nuff Respec' !!! emoticon

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TWINZMOM7 2/18/2013 2:04PM


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PJBONARRIGO 2/18/2013 1:39PM

    A walk???? Respectfully, a half marathon is only 13.1 miles!!! I'm sure that your hike was much more enjoyable from my chairside viewpoint with your lovely pictures. Rotten luck to have mud over the tops of your boots and waking up to horrible cramps as well. The word slog comes to mind. I am always amazed at how easy it is to get lost in England; from town to the empty moors in 3.0 seconds or less LOL About a million years ago, I had my own Death March in Devon due to two dogs not wanting to go home (I was easily led astray as a horse will bring you home), but I digress. Here's to an easy day at home, especially if there is cake! emoticon

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BJENKINS1014 2/18/2013 1:24PM

    I loved this! What an adventure, and I feel like I was right there with you!

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IAMAGEMLOVER 2/18/2013 1:17PM

    What a hike. No wonder your feet have stopped talking to you.

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RFJSJ50 2/18/2013 1:14PM

    Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful "walk." I truly enjoyed reading about your adventure.

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NEEDBU66 2/18/2013 1:10PM

    At least there was cake. Love your blogs. Always get excited when I see you've posted a new one.

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KACEYSW 2/18/2013 12:59PM

    I love the tales of your gambols. They are greatly appreciated!

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WEGENERCS 2/18/2013 12:47PM

    As a friend of mine says, you speak in word pictures. Beautifully portrayed.

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