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    CHICCHANTAL   29,042
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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:
LUCKYNUMBER23 2/18/2013 9:27AM

    Congrats great pictures.

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MAMAV57 2/18/2013 9:27AM

    Fantastic Pics!!! Fantastic story!! I hope you feel stronger and ready for another adventure soon. Take care!! emoticon

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MCFITZ2 2/18/2013 9:27AM

    Loved sharing your walk emoticon

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PATTYSPENCER 2/18/2013 9:24AM

    14 miles!!! Holy Cow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thank you for taking me along for your walk - thankfully my legs didn't cramp from it.

Totally love your pictures and your descriptions - love getting bits of British history and glimpses of countryside that I'll never get to see.

Have a great Sparkly week!

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ANGIEN9 2/18/2013 9:23AM

    Wow! The pictures are beautiful! I just can't believe you walked that much in one day! emoticon emoticon emoticon

I am up to 25 minutes at a time. I thought I was doing good!! Anyway, I love your blogs and will continue to read and now I am going to subscribe to them. You have a way with words and you are from another country. I believe it is England or the United Kingdom. Which do you prefer? I live in the United States and about an hour from the mountains. I hope this summer I can go hiking in them again! They are beautiful, too.
Have a nice day!

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PAHOOT 2/18/2013 9:22AM

    14 Miles!!!!!!!!!! I am MOST impressed. Your photos were beautiful but I bet those thighs were REALLY sore. My dream has always been to do a walking tour. Hmmm and I'm so proud when I do four miles. You, my dear, rock.

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EJP1977 2/18/2013 9:20AM

    Tough walk, but gorgeous scenery!

I lived in Devon and Sussex for two years, and even a decade later, I still miss it terribly, thank you so much for posting such great pictures, it's really brought up some wonderful memories!

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NEWCHINELO 2/18/2013 9:16AM

    nice scenery!

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TINY67 2/18/2013 9:11AM

    Great pics.

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DESERTJULZ 2/18/2013 9:06AM

    The photos are just beautiful. Although it may not be much fun hiking through wet, squelchy areas, the water does make for lovely photos. :D

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KATYDID412 2/18/2013 9:06AM

    Holy cow -- 14 miles?! I bet your thighs are hurting.

Gorgeous pictures as always, though.

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GOOSIEMOON 2/18/2013 9:04AM


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KANDOLAKER 2/18/2013 9:03AM

    Loved sharing your walk - thanks for all the photos and descriptions! It is greatly appreciated. All the best!

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DONNA_VT 2/18/2013 9:00AM

    WoW that is quite the walk . . . and very well documented too! Thanks for sharing.

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NEPTUNE1939 2/18/2013 8:57AM


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DEBLYNN323 2/18/2013 8:55AM

    emoticon ....your walks are so charming and vivid! Thanks for sharing!

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HIPPICHICK1 2/18/2013 8:53AM

    What an EPIC adventure!

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COOKIE_AT_51 2/18/2013 8:49AM

    emoticon LOVED your story ... still smiling at you two wanderers! emoticon

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UWPALUM 2/18/2013 8:45AM

    A great hike story...glad I was reading it though instead of hiking hours? Wow! Impressive!

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TRYINGHARD54 2/18/2013 8:45AM

    I love your walks and pictures. thank you for sharing....and now i think I'll take a

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JASONV33 2/18/2013 8:45AM

  That would be what nowadays they call 'EPIC'!!

Nice job! emoticon

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LESLIE117 2/18/2013 8:41AM

    Thank you for your tale. I live in NY and love quirky British movies. As I was reading, it seemed like Alan Rickman or Hugh Grant would pop up at any moment!

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TARDER01 2/18/2013 8:41AM

what a wonderful story and photos

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ROCKYCPA 2/18/2013 8:35AM

    What a wonderful hike, mud and all. Thanks for sharing & the beautiful pictures.

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THOMS1 2/18/2013 8:34AM

    And yet another great adventure!! emoticon

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CAM2438 2/18/2013 8:32AM

    What a beautiful walk!

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VICKI-BISHOP56 2/18/2013 8:24AM

  I felt like I was right there with you. Wonderful accounting. Hope you're not too stiff as the day progresses. emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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LEANMEAN2 2/18/2013 8:23AM

    Again, thanks for a very interesting travelog. Love it.

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TEACHING1ST 2/18/2013 8:21AM

    Chantal, you basically did a half marathon in muddy conditions, and not quite knowing the lay of the land! What a woman! Eat cake today and rest up. You have a most interesting life!!

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DEBBIECK 2/18/2013 8:20AM

    What a lovely writer you are! I was right there with you (virtually, of course). A grand adventure, for sure :)

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CFMOSS 2/18/2013 8:12AM

    What an adventure - thanks for sharing and showing again.

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KAYATLANTA2010 2/18/2013 8:09AM

    Wow, what a walk! Fourteen muddy (partly) miles...incredible work! emoticon

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GAILRUU 2/18/2013 8:09AM

    What a wonderful walk and pictures.

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DAYSPRING-STAR 2/18/2013 8:05AM

    Wish I was along with you. In a way I was as I read and saw your photos. Thank you.

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LINDAOZ62 2/18/2013 8:04AM

  Loved the blog. What a nice trip.

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GRANDMACOO 2/18/2013 8:03AM

    Beautiful! Loved your "picture walk"!

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SHOSHANADP 2/18/2013 8:00AM

    What a great and adventurous trip!

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PENOWOK 2/18/2013 7:58AM

    as always, a wonderful, delightful trip despite the hazards!

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MOMMY445 2/18/2013 7:57AM

    sounds like you both had a wonderful adventure! have a terrific day!

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PEZMOM1 2/18/2013 7:56AM

    emoticon for bringing your hike to life with all the great words you are a very discriptive writer.

Comment edited on: 2/18/2013 7:57:30 AM

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CRYSTALJEM 2/18/2013 7:53AM

    Wonderful story from start to finish.

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CEEMAY 2/18/2013 7:52AM

    Quite the adventure! I thoroughly enjoyed reading about your hike. However, how could your friend not like Jane Austen???


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ELLDOCKE 2/18/2013 7:52AM

    Wow! I love 'walking' with you. thanks for taking us all along. Sorry about the night cramps waking you. I hate it when that happens to me. emoticon

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LODESTONE 2/18/2013 7:50AM

    Amazing trip, and I enjoyed your visuals.. 14 miles is quite a trek.

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SWEETNEEY 2/18/2013 7:45AM


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SAILOR64 2/18/2013 7:42AM

    What a lovely adventure the two of you had.

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NANCYJH64 2/18/2013 7:39AM

    Thank you for the blog. What a distance you did. You definitely deserved your cake!! emoticon

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CLARISSABOND 2/18/2013 7:32AM

    Thanks for a taste of English countryside. It was lovely. I hope you recover quickly.

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OFGREENGABLES 2/18/2013 7:26AM

    wow. what a day.

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WINE4GIRL 2/18/2013 7:24AM

    What am amazing walk! I could visualize it as I'm reading... most of it anyway! Thanks for sharing your adventure with us!

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