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    CHICCHANTAL   29,257
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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:
RANCHGAL9 2/18/2013 12:38PM

    Very entertaining blog - you made me feel like I was right there with you even though I have never, ever seen any of the areas that you hike. I live in beautiful British Columbia Canada. And I must say, I had no idea that you had so many beautiful paths to hike on.
I really enjoy reading about all of your walks, such beautiful countryside. emoticon

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CHRISBEM 2/18/2013 12:37PM

    what a hike!

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TERMITEMOM 2/18/2013 12:36PM

    You are such a wonderful photographer and story teller! emoticon

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    Amazing adventure and wonderful photos. Thanks so much for sharing. Made my day. 14 miles must be some kind of record.

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    I feel as if I was on the adventure with you! Beautiful pictures. Thank you so much for sharing.

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LAURIETAIT 2/18/2013 12:18PM

    You definitely earned the cake. The pictures are great. Thanks for sharing, again. Hope the pain in your thighs is easing.

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HOTEAMOM 2/18/2013 12:09PM

  A lovely story about a lovely walk, and your pictures are most impressive! Thanks so much for sharing with us.

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MARYM1962 2/18/2013 12:00PM

  loved the pictures! - I would have been huffing and puffing so much I would not have thought to take any :(

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LAINYC 2/18/2013 11:59AM


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BMCKEOW1 2/18/2013 11:48AM

    I bet your thighs are hurting. Mine hurt reading this. Way to go though. You kept with it and you have great pictures and a great story to till.

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GRIZ1GIRL 2/18/2013 11:48AM

    You made me feel like I was in England with you! Awesome! Thanks for sharing--and congrats on surviving your Death March! :)

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LINDAKAY228 2/18/2013 11:44AM

    I love the pics of the countryside. It looks so nice and peaceful. However that mud I would not want to tackle LOL! Glad you survived the day! That's a long hike especially with the mud slowing you down. Get some rest today!

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BKNOCK 2/18/2013 11:31AM

    Wow, love the pictures and I can almost feel the pain in my thighs! Good job!

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CELEST 2/18/2013 11:23AM

    I got sent your blog because we have similar blogging style and stuff we get up to. I never did quite figure out why my friends seemed to thoroughly enjoy my blogs, when all I was doing was talking about what I had done.....Now I get it. I thoroughly enjoyed your blog and felt like the mud was under my shoes and the tension in my own legs.

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REDGALE 2/18/2013 11:17AM

    Thanks for not giving up--You two are inspirational!
Blessings on your week.

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1STARVINGARTIST 2/18/2013 11:10AM

    Beautiful pictures, great blog! Thanks for sharing!

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NOTSOFLUFFYDAD 2/18/2013 11:09AM

    I'm exhausted from the walk and I only read about it!

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TWEETCREEK 2/18/2013 11:08AM

    Great adventure, thanks for sharing

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DMLADKINS 2/18/2013 10:57AM

    Fabulous! Madame Raconteuse!
Absolutely gorgeous pics in fact and in word.

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WALLINMW 2/18/2013 10:54AM

  Great blog!

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TINYBUBBA1 2/18/2013 10:53AM

    What l lovely blog! Very interesting walk and the scenery was great!

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BLUEANGELLK 2/18/2013 10:51AM

    Felt like i was waling the path with you!

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4KWALK 2/18/2013 10:46AM

    Thanks so much for the tale of your hike. 14 miles - I thought I was doing good with 3 miles (5 kms.)
I can almost hear your accent as I read these blogs. Utterly delightful.

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SMITHMTDEB 2/18/2013 10:46AM

    Fun blog! Makes me want to get out for a walk, but not in the mud!

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AUGUSTDRAGON 2/18/2013 10:45AM

    What a wonderful visual presentation, and a charming narrative. Thank you for allowing me to accompany you on your walk. Lets do it again sometime. emoticon

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JELLYBELLY221 2/18/2013 10:45AM

    You paint such a funny story. Good luck with those sore thighs!!! 14 miles?!? What were you bloody thinking?!? emoticon

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USHARA 2/18/2013 10:31AM

    Oh my goodness! I could SO relate to your walk. When I lived in England, I used to get lost so many times because my husband was one of those "I know a shortcut" (which always ended up being miles out of our way). At the end of these walks, I would sit down for a half hour and be unable to get up again.

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KNYAGENYA 2/18/2013 10:29AM


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GARDENCHRIS 2/18/2013 10:26AM

    that was quite a walk about you had..... I would have been just a bit more nervous than you seemed to be 14 miles! on my.... glad you made it home safe.. take it easy today.

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FANCYFREE15 2/18/2013 10:25AM

    Your account is hilarious and your pix gorgeous- as always! emoticon

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SHEENADEE 2/18/2013 10:24AM

    What a fab walk! Thanks for sharing with us.

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LSIG14 2/18/2013 10:21AM

    Delightful narative - I love the tongue-in-cheek telling of a fantastic hike. Photos are great . The best hikes are the ones that get off the planned hike! Thanks for sharing!

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MIMIDOT 2/18/2013 10:20AM

    Beautiful pictures and a great walk! 14 miles! Wow! Thanks for sharing.

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STALEYK 2/18/2013 10:19AM

    What an awesome adventure! emoticon

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WOOFGANG 2/18/2013 10:17AM

    Love your writing style, and enjoyed the day thoroughly (I think the telling of it is much more enjoyable than the doing by the time the next day rolls around.) Thanks for sharing the lovely photos and the warning that we shouldn't overdo it!

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REDPEPPERS 2/18/2013 10:17AM


When do the bluebells appear?

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HAPPYMOM8 2/18/2013 10:12AM


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HIGHNOON 2/18/2013 10:09AM

  What a wonderful telling of your day. emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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GRAYGRANNY 2/18/2013 10:06AM

    I always enjoy going along the walks with you.............especially since I don't get muddy or sore from it............ emoticon

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SIMONEKP 2/18/2013 10:06AM

    quite a hike

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SUGAR0814 2/18/2013 10:01AM

    14 miles!!! Wow! Great pictures! Thanks for sharing!

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CLAYARTIST 2/18/2013 9:47AM

  emoticon I love your walk blogs, I imagine I am walking with you emoticon emoticon

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FRABBIT 2/18/2013 9:45AM

  Wow - what an adventure and you lived to write about it.

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MOM2NATURE 2/18/2013 9:44AM

    Thank you so much for sharing your walk! I feel as though I went with you....but no pain...Or excercise come to think of it. What a beautiful walk....14 miles is a l-o-n-g walk but you have every reason to be proud of your accomplishment!


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WORKNPROGRESS49 2/18/2013 9:36AM


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JERICHO1991 2/18/2013 9:35AM

    Love your travelogues and pictures. Thanks.

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JULIACOLLINS62 2/18/2013 9:32AM

    You definitely earned the right to eat your cake. emoticon blog.

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ELAINESHAFF 2/18/2013 9:30AM

    What a beautiful place to walk!!

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FROMNDTOGA 2/18/2013 9:27AM

    I admire your determination!

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CARPROTH 2/18/2013 9:27AM

    Where did moderation go? I've overdone it a bit at times, but you definitely take the cake.

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