13th May13th May
It was another lovely day. To return to the path we had to climb the very busy Reigate Hill. After a few yards we turned off the road and took a steep bridle path to the top where we turned right and headed east again. Crossing the footbridge taking us over the road we arrived in a very busy car park with a refreshment kiosk and, much to my amusement, with a row of deckchairs lined up to face the sun. There were all sorts of activities taking place – including a ladies exercise class with thick elastic bands attached to trees and ladies doing leg exercises! Imagine this with the continual roar and fumes of the M25 traffic over the hedge! What?!?? Why would you!!!
We moved on (chuckling) to Gatton Park – originally said to be one of Capability Brown’s largest projects and comprising a lake, ponds and woodland. The garden formed part of an extensive estate whose house was destroyed by fire in 1934. It’s grounds now form part of the Royal Alexandra and Albert Boarding School. There was certainly a lot going on! There were vast playing fields and young people taking part in various sports. To our right was a very modern circle of metal sheets mimicking an ancient stone circle. I don’t think stone henge need fear competition……
Another thing we have noticed is the health of the wonderful horse chestnut trees. We have passed some splendid huge examples. They seem to show no evidence of the disease that has affected some of their specie.
Our route next took us across a golf course which had stunning greens that I think had been Capability Brown inspired. We then passed along to Merstham Cricket Ground and out onto the wonderfully named Quality Street that reflects a most gracious time for the village. Sadly it is now crushed between the M25 and railway lines into London.
After passing a row of beautiful houses, we turned left by a very handsome Tudor House and took a footbridge over the M25 which was very scary. It looked a very light structure with the nose to tail M25 traffic thundering underneath. There was then a bit of road walking and two railway bridges before we took off again into the countryside. The cinder foot path took us to an underpass that ran beneath the M23. Beyond this there was a track up to a meadow and then we walked across and up a large field towards a hedge lined track. Here we met some wonderful dogs out walking with their proud owners ( what happened to the mongrels of my childhood? ) and passed some more amazing Surrey houses that must have had incredible views.
Another road heavily on edged with flowering wild garlic led us back into woodland. This, in turn, brought us out into an area called Gravelly Hill where we took advantage of strategically placed benches with a splendid panorama of the valley below while we ate our snack for lunch. We sat in the sunshine and just soaked up the moment.
Eventually we felt we had to move and headed into the wood at the end of the clearing. The path followed round the hillside. The ground to our right dropped away steeply. Not the time to trip over a tree root! Steps appeared and we started to descend the slope. Rather amusingly we then came out onto a road by a warehouse. The guidebook described the area ahead as ‘a very untidy patch’ – and so it proved! There were huge lumps of concrete, cans and old cartons, a rusting set of stairs, bundles of wire and even two rusting cars. An untidy patch indeed. Passing up a drive with a few houses to our right we came out onto a path overlooking another, very much smaller, vineyard.
At a large beech tree we turned again and eventually we continued along an undulating track before arriving at the top of a very steep flight of steps. This stage of the day is not good for long staircases. Ugh! However, it was nearly time to leave the North Downs Way for our accommodation in Limpsfield. Just a walk around the perimeter of a field of barley and after skirting the fenced boundary of a chalk quarry, we left the route and headed towards the M25 again. We found our way to the bridge over the motorway – always a spooky moment – and we were on the south side and finding our way along a road of mansions eventually arriving at the less exotic end and an excellent bed and breakfast. After a thorough cleanse we adjourned for a highly recommended Gurkha meal, which was excellent.
And then home to bed……