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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.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Oh, I forgot to add--the morning of a big hike, take a potassium supplement with breakfast, or eat 2 banannas sometime in the first half of the day. Really helps prevent/reduce leg cramping.
    1888 days ago
  • KAREN608
    You need hip waders for some of that trail.
    What a walk.
    1888 days ago
    Please tell me that is THE Box Hill, from Emma, where Emma insults Miss Bates! ("Pardon me, but you will be limited as to the number,--only three at once.") 37,000 steps is incredible. However, I do think that if the English language cannot supply you with enough verbs meaning "to walk muddily", then you should feel free to make some up, with great abandon. emoticon emoticon
    1888 days ago
  • SKY214
    Wow! You deserve a rest!
    1888 days ago
    What a beautiful walk, it looks so peaceful too.
    1889 days ago
    very beautliful. I cant wait til we can go back to our state park to walk
    1889 days ago
    Well done on doing such a long walk and then writing such an interesting and entertaining blog about it - as always, illustrated by some lovely pictures.

    I too 'did' Twelfth Night at school and I enjoyed it!
    1889 days ago
  • DNRAE1
    Wow! Now that was a doozy of a hike!!! You deserve a good easy day, and I am very impressed
    with your determination and photography. Great shots.
    1889 days ago
    Wow !! After 14 mile of walking trip, you sure deserves the sweet cake. emoticon emoticon
    1889 days ago
    emoticon I am THANKFUL that you both survived this Adventure, AND that you had the Strength to Blog about it!! I love reading your Blogs -- and others -- which Educate me. I love the bits of History that you have included!!
    emoticon I recently 'Discovered' Goat Cheese and it makes a Lovely Reward after a Hard Workout or a Long Walk at the Park.
    1889 days ago
    Whoa Nellie--what a trip! I get jealous of the beautiful scenery! I need to make it a point to look for exciting places around here! :)
    1889 days ago
    For a moment, I was afraid you were going to say you fell into one of those deep mud puddles just like the video you posted awhile ago! Or tripped and rolled all the way down one of the steep muddy trails or in the mud field! Glad you seem to have escaped either of those fates. I admire that you were able to walk so far. You walked more than a half marathon.
    1889 days ago
    This walk didn't sound near as pleasant as some of the rest of your walks. Waking up with leg cramps is not a fun thing. We went for about a 3 mile walk yesterday and then we danced (both square dancing and two step[ping) for another miles. I didn't have leg cramps but my feet hurt and my hips ached. I know how you feel.

    We have the grandsons for about days and are supposed to take them to the park so they can ride their bikes. I'm not sure I'm looking forward to it but will go anyway because the boys are really looking forward to it.

    I hope you feel better soon.
    1889 days ago
  • PHOENIX1949
    emoticon Enjoyed sharing your walk.
    1889 days ago
  • -POOKIE-
    We haven't been to Box Hill yet, looked at going though... will wait for the mud to dissipate a bit though first...
    1889 days ago
  • DALID414
    I think the pm after the 1 officially makes it afternoon, not morning, but I forgive you because after a day like yours my brain would be upside down, too.
    1889 days ago
    Great pics. Thanks for sharing.
    1889 days ago
    Squidgy paths are second only to those covered in black ice. Glad you enjoyed your well-earned cake. (What flavor was it? emoticon )
    1889 days ago
    Thank you for taking these walks and sharing them.
    1889 days ago
  • MARIANNE9855
    you two are amazing! Reading about your hikes is the height of my week- yes I have a pretty boring life. But they are so fun for the readers. I would like to take my sons on a hike like that- they would definitely quit on me-
    When we were walking all over Philadelphia with my brother and his family- 12 years ago- my older son said my brother was taking us on a "death march" and it was all flat with no mud- lol!
    I personally think you have earned a whole cake today after that.
    1889 days ago
  • LIS193
    Than you for sharing your day with us!
    1889 days ago
  • JUNEAU2010
    Taking those pictures and sharing them with us whilst dealing with squidginess is definitely taking one for the team!
    1889 days ago
  • JACKIE542
    Beautiful! when you go on a hike you go on a hike, 14 miles! That is great, I am going to have to do this. Thank you for the adventure and great pictures. Hope your legs feel better soon, Take good care. emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1889 days ago

    Comment edited on: 2/17/2013 11:36:57 AM
  • LYNCHD05
    Once again I enjoyed my walk with you. I really could not walk that long. My knees would not survive. 35000 steps is awesome! Thanks for taking us along.
    1889 days ago
  • L1ZB3TH354
    Wow! 14 miles is amazing! Get some rest today!
    1889 days ago
    Oh my, 14 miles! And such lovely photos. I would love to say wish I was there, but I'm afraid I would never survive your walks! emoticon I will continue to enjoy them from the safety of my Spark phone emoticon Great job!
    1889 days ago
    thanks for sharing,,I overdid it too yesterday!
    1889 days ago
    Lovely, and so English too . Loved it. You deserve that cake and more.
    Thanks for taking us along. emoticon
    Great Photos. emoticon
    1889 days ago
    Electrolytes! That should help the cramping, if the cake didn't do the trick! Thanks for the report, nice pictures and a great adventure in the mud!
    1889 days ago
    Thank you again for taking us "along with you" I couldn't imagine 14 miles, maybe if the scenery was as pretty here as it is there I wouldn't notice?
    1889 days ago
  • LINDAK25
    Through the mud, muck and mire you two have trudged. Perhaps even waded. Where you slog, squish, slop, slosh, splash, splosh, squelch and plodded may have become tiresome to you, but I have to say I enjoyed your story. The pictures do it justice. I can clearly see all the muck and mire and yet enjoy the view. Enjoy a good rest and your piece of cake, it is well deserved!
    1889 days ago
  • KIPPER15
    wow, an amazing walk. I hate going through mud. You have great staying power, I am sure I would have given up at Betchworth. emoticon
    1889 days ago
    7 hours wow!!! thats AWESOME : )
    1889 days ago
    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1889 days ago
  • DR1939
    Think of it this way. If nothing went amiss this would not be a hike to remember. It's the ones that have obstacles which we overcome that become memorable. Loved the blog and the pictures are marvelous.
    1889 days ago
    well great job of look on the bright side but 14 miles in 7 hours that is one long day water?
    1889 days ago

    Comment edited on: 2/17/2013 9:20:43 AM
    Beautiful story, lovely pictures. Thank you for taking me along with you. emoticon
    1889 days ago
    Your hikes amaze me! I'm sure I would have given up long before reaching Box Hill... or perhaps i would have disappeared in one of the mud puddles. Some lovely pictures, and I hope your legs forgive you before your next hike.
    1889 days ago
    Thank you for sharing your adventure. Beautiful pictures!!!
    1889 days ago
    fantastic even if you didn't meet a gruffalo, i really do love hearing about your adventures, its a pitty that i live so very far away i would love to tag along - sigh - i will have to make do with following your blog posts, keep em coming

    1889 days ago
    Wow, a 14 mile mud walk. Thanks for sharing your walk. Pamper yourself today.
    1889 days ago
    Reading your blog was like being along for the journey. I know I would have loved it. rest up today!
    1889 days ago
    I just so enjoy your adventures. I always feel as though I am transported from my rural NC home to the "Mother Country" for a bit! Thanks for sharing and keep it up! emoticon
    1889 days ago
    one for your record books, you were keen to do 10 miles and you superceded that with distinction.
    Let's hope the tape measure is your friend after all that exercise
    1889 days ago
    I love your blogs!! I imagine I'd be a bit cross after 14 mikes so I would want to take it easy today!

    I always thought "to squish" implies more of a walking in mud descriptor, as squelch is something I usually see used in the context of suppressing ideas, information, that sort of thing. But what do I know? And I guess I need to point my posh iPhone over to the dictionary and look up words...

    Maybe "slopping along"? (although I usually read this elsewhere in the context of feeding pigs...).

    Hmmm this is an interesting dilemna.

    Do take some tea and the lentil soup sounds good too. Did you ever take one of Stonecot's cake?
    1889 days ago
  • GABY1948
    I love your walks and your blogs and especially your pictures! Thanks for always taking us along! Sorry for the problems and the cramps though! emoticon

    1889 days ago
    Your blogs make me laugh, even though I'm an ocean away! Thanks for sharing your adventures and for inspiring all of us to keep climbing...and to have a sense of humor about it!
    1889 days ago
    How wonderful! I love living your adventures with you.Take it easy today emoticon
    1889 days ago
    Happy Healing !
    Thanks for sharing your adventure.
    1889 days ago
    I still think that it was the condition of the path that made it so exhausting. Then waiting on that cold platform for the train so that everything set didn't help. I just missed the bus in Epsom, and had to wait for another 30 minutes as well. I reckon in summer when the paths are dry, and one can get up a rhythm we'd have found it much easier. I was carrying an extra 10lbs in the clay stuck to my boots. Funnily enough (I'm not laughing) the most painful bit this morning is my right shoulder and elbow, where I had so much weight on my stick! emoticon emoticon
    1889 days ago
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