NHS Retirement Fellowship Stages 4 & 5 Merstham to Oxted and across the border!

9th November 2016

Our adverturous NHS retirement fellowship recently completed the Surrey section of the Trail and tip toed into Kent. Our scribe Pam Bulman picks up the commentary in Merstham.

Late September saw us back in Merstham (our grateful thanks here to a certain club for the use of their car park) for Stage 4 to Oxted.  Leaving Quality Street, a couple of busy roads led to the long steep climb to the ridge and lovely views but with two necessary 'blots' on the landscape, the M23 and the M25!  The M23 is left behind but the M25 runs parallel with the NDW here so we could either see it and/or hear the low rumble of the vehicles - at that height looking like Dinky toys.

Not such an interesting stretch but still with pleasant leafy tracks through attractively named Park Ham, Winders Hill, Horse Shaw and Hanging Hill, and passed the derelict memorial, Whitehill Tower.  Nearing the end, a 102-step tricky descent to the grassy meadows below Oxted Quarry brought us finally to Chalkpit Lane in Oxted.  From there a bus to Redhill for another back to Merstham, our cars and a celebratory stop at The Feathers.

The Surrey/Kent border was in our sights so just two weeks later we were on the 5th and, for us, final stage, Oxted to Westerham. Parking in Westerham and bussing to Oxted, we re-joined Chalkpit Lane where a steepish climb took us back above the M25 but away from its noise for some of our highest views. The Trail's highest point is here, Botley Hill, at 853 feet above sea level. Pleasant walking through the Titsey Estate, and then passed a number of elegant houses, a golf club and a nature reserve we were at Westerham Hill for a timely (it was raining) bus back to Westerham, the welcoming Kings Arms and a celebration lunch.

Good news – we DID it! The Gang of Eight, Eleanor, Frances, Joan, Lois, Lorna, Margaret, Ooi and me (sad to say, personal reasons prevented Janet from joining us on the last two stages) have walked the 50+ miles of Surrey's section of the NDW, with all its various challenges. Not so good news - we had to settle for a fingerpost at Westerham Hill to tell us we had crossed the border. We’d walked right passed the border milestone three quarters of a mile back and missed a photo opportunity! How could we? If it hadn’t rained, we may have retraced our steps, but it did and, regrettably, we didn't!  That aside, it has all been amazing - all so worth it, all very much a team effort.

Some thanks here - to Margaret, our public transport whizz, and for the fizz at the end, to Ooi, for the tasty treats at just the right points, to Frances, our Branch Chairman, for setting the challenge and, by no means, least, Peter, the Trail Manager, who followed our journey with interest and kindly posted our write-ups.  Mention must also be made of the useful and necessary official NDW Guidebook - we would have been lost without it!

Kent section? Canterbury or Dover? Mmm! Watch this space. Anything is possible!

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