East Grinstead circular Virtual walk at the end of April

Our 10 mile walk starts through the normally busy Saturday streets of the town but we have an opportunity to socially distance ourselves from the high street and detour past the pretty church. Outside Sackville College, a Jacobean Almshouse, where all residents are currently self-isolating, we pass the statue to the NZ surgeon Archibald McIndoe who pioneered plastic surgery for WWII airmen at the local hospital. Finally, we leave the town behind and set off across mixed farm and wood land where we are bound to see bluebells at this time of year.

We pass an imposing building, Stoke Brunswick, which was a school for many years and has now returned to private ownership. It started off as a hunting lodge used by John of Gaunt and was bought by Dewars, the whisky family, in the early 20thC. Mrs Dewar declared it too small for her lavish parties so hubby bought a Tudor mansion, Dutton Hall in Cheshire, and had it moved piece by piece onto the site (as you do). To their credit the Dewars made the house available for recuperating airmen during the war.

Quite soon we turn onto Vanguard Way, a rather neglected long distance footpath as seen by the dilapidated stiles we have to negotiate. Our route then takes us through Tablehurst Community Farm, described as a social enterprise, which operates on a biodynamic basis. This means it is both organic and self-sustaining but I do recall from a previous walk in 2018 that someone got a nasty electric shock from the fence protecting their free-range chickens from foxes! The very popular farm shop is still open, but limiting the numbers allowed inside at any one time. They are also making local deliveries to self-isolators and key workers. Good for them.

Very soon we arrive in Forest Row for lunch. There are plenty of picnic spots in this pretty town, and also a good selection of pubs and cafes. It has a bit of a reputation for trendy alternative lifestyles but it’s really a posh commuter town. Its early development was down to the direct rail service to London but, after 100 years of operation, it was axed by Beeching. The disused line is now Forest Way, a foot and bike trail.

After lunch, those wanting an easy 3 mile walk back to East Grinstead can take the Forest Way whilst the more energetic will set off across fields, stopping first to admire the lovely Jacobean ruins of Brambletye House, built in the 17thC by Sir Henry Compton MP. It was abandoned less than 100 years later but no-one knows why.

Our route takes us across the bottom of Weir Wood Reservoir where there would normally be lots of sailing boats out enjoying the spring weather. But probably not in the time of coronavirus. We then follow footpaths north and largely uphill, arriving in the old town of East Grinstead via an atmospheric sunken lane. Normally there would be several afternoon tea spots to enjoy and even possibly the station cafe. Always a welcome sight and a good end to the day. However, on this occasion, we shall need to have our own flasks of tea. Now, who brought the biscuits?

Missing all the walks and the company.   Sandra Neilson

AGM 14 March 2020

On Saturday 14 March, just ahead of the more stringent advice on social distancing, the Club held its AGM at Better Bankside.   With the increasing threat of coronavirus, the organisers had thought long and hard about whether to go ahead and email reminders had been sent out about the importance of hand washing, so I was expecting a much reduced attendance. In the event 36 members turned out, only two down on last year, and this in spite of a few older members sensibly deciding to stay at home to reduce their risk of infection. Perhaps we all had an inkling that would be our last physical gathering for a while.  Hilary, in the chair, began the meeting with tributes to Solvig Starborg who had died in January and Ian Gordon who had passed away last May.  Both had been AGM regulars. Continue reading AGM 14 March 2020

BALCOMBE CIRCULAR – 7 MARCH

Fifteen of us set off from Balcombe station, prepared for a day of mud. We knew what to expect & were prepared, we are not fair weather walkers nor dilettantes but, thankfully, the worst was over. No one fell over, slipped into a river or had to be pulled out of a mud lake with ropes, in fact it was a lovely day! A lot of the walk was in woodland with little two-plank bridges over streams but there was some lovely meadow land too.  We also passed a gorgeous and super friendly grey tabby who got a lot of attention from the group. The staff at the Royal Oak pub in Handcross were also very friendly, did pretty good chips & I saw a massive fish arrive on someone’s plate so they are clearly generous with their portions.

Pam & Harriet had had to finish the last 2 miles on the walkover in the dark by the -pathetic- light of a mobile phone so we were interested to see what it really looked like. Nice, actually with a strange & huge rock outcrop split by tree roots where no one would expect to see such a thing. We got to the station in good time & weren’t so covered in mud that we elicited looks of disgust from other passengers.

Harriet. Photos by Ida and Gillian

GERRARDS CROSS AND HEDGERLEY CIRCULAR – 29 FEBRUARY

In spite of mud and bog warnings and heavy rain for the past 24 hours, ten Poly Ramblers still turned up at Gerrards Cross on Saturday morning in sunshine punctuated by heavy showers.  We crossed the common, passing some impressive properties (including one that Andew remembered visiting),  and paused to view an Iron Age hill fort, not much to look at, I admit. Continue reading GERRARDS CROSS AND HEDGERLEY CIRCULAR – 29 FEBRUARY