A picturesque countryside view on the North Downs Way

Matthew de Lange Trail Warden Walk Diary- Part Deux

21st November 2016

NDW Diary 4 October

Another splendid warm sunny day for my walk from Boxhill to Merstham. Lovely start with the stepping stones across the stream at the foot of the hill (not to be missed literally or metaphorically). Being on glorious Boxhill, took me back 50 years to the heroics of our geography teacher. Boggy Marsh. He rescued Brown of 2A who had ignored his advice to take care on the path and had slid 8 or 10 yards down the hillside. Well played, Boggy! (Oh how imaginative we were with our nicknames)

In contrast to the previous day, the path today was constantly steeply up and down, sometimes narrow and treacherous - so it was slow going at times.  Mostly under trees with tantalising shafts of sunshine.  I stopped briefly to chat to a man from the National Trust who tends the goats at the Brockham lime works (more famed for its bats than goats) - now there's a job! 

Stunning views await at Colley Hill and a most unexpected and beautiful rotunda with a mosaic of the stars and planets.  And from there just a short walk to Reigate fort. If Boxhill had reminded me of my schoolmates of 2A, the fort took me back to the same schoolmates a few years on with whom I played Diplomacy. Reigate fort was built in 1898 to defend us against the threat of the French - our allies in the Great War just 16 years later. Of the boys I played Diplomacy with all those years ago, one went on to be a Defence Secretary and another a British ambassador – not surprisingly I lost.

Shortly before the fort is a poignant reminder of the Second World War where wooden wing tips mark the spot where an American flying fortress smashed into the hillside. From wood to stone a mile on where 10 standing stones - each with a challenging quotation- commemorate the end of the second millennium. By which point I was certainly grateful that from Colley Hill to Merstham 3 miles or so on is all downhill!

5 October            Merstham to Oxted

This 8 mile stretch was very pleasantly accomplished in the company of my long time and excessively sporty friend, Paul, for whom this was just a stroll in the woods. Actually this stretch IS pretty much all a stroll in the woods. A couple of ascents but nothing too tricky and some wonderful viewpoints - particularly on this crystal clear day when at different points we could easily see to the South Downs one way and well beyond Wembley Stadium arch the other (a rare Northerly view). At a wonderful viewing spot by Oxted quarry we stopped for a lengthy chat with an elderly gentlemen immaculately turned out in country tweeds who had returned wistfully to the scene of his earlier life - a splendid source of information about the vista before us and its stories. Apart from that, little delayed us and even the constant presence of the M25 didn't detract from a lovely day's walking during which we passed from the Western to the Eastern hemisphere (as marked by a plaque).



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