All posts by sandra

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

May Bank Holiday weekend 2018: Tower Hill to Greenwich

On a very hot Mayday bank holiday weekend, 29 Polys gathered at Tower Hill for Dan’s 70th birthday walk to Blackheath. Pushing our way through the crowds of tourists, we walked round the Tower of London, and through St Katherine’s Dock and on to Wapping, Shadwell and Limehouse. By the time we reached Millwall Dock on the Isle of Dogs, it was a very hot and thirsty party of walkers that enjoyed a birthday drink courtesy of our leader – thanks, Dan!. The rest of the walk took us through Mudchute Park and City Farm Continue reading May Bank Holiday weekend 2018: Tower Hill to Greenwich

Saturday 3rd February. Woldingham to Oxted

Remarkably, 17 brave souls and 1 dog turned out on a wet day for a walk from Woldingham with an absolute guarantee of mud. I had altered the morning route to avoid some of the worst of it, and this involved some lane walking. At the North Downs Way viewpoint, high above the M25, we encountered an even larger group from the Southbank Ramblers who were doing a similar walk and stopping in the same pub. We sped on and arrived before them, only to find that they were short staffed in the kitchen and some dishes arrived late. However, well refreshed, we set off again in rain that was by now heavier, with only 1 member opting for the bus. Continue reading Saturday 3rd February. Woldingham to Oxted

Saturday 18th November, Boxhill to Dorking

Another fine autumn walk enjoyed by 8 Polyramblers on a day which remained mild and misty, with only the odd spot of rain. At Box Hill and West Humble station, there was a very large walking party assembling but we set off and never saw them again. We walked through Denbies vineyard and up onto Ranmore Common with great views over Dorking and Box Hill. The trees were a glorious colour and we had a carpet of autumn leaves underfoot. Dropping down into the valley, we passed Milton Court, a Grade II listed 17thC house, now the UK HQ of an American company called Unum which offers insurance products to employers. Clearly a profitable business! Continue reading Saturday 18th November, Boxhill to Dorking

Saturday 1st July. Amberley circular

A total of 15 Polys met at Amberley station for a walk in perfect weather. A much larger walking group left the train at the same time, so we sped off just in case they were heading in the same direction. We had a short walk along the river Arun, then through Amberley village with its castle, thatched houses and delightful cottage gardens, then across country to Parham Park where the picnickers had their lunch. The pub lunchers enjoyed sandwiches in the garden of the nearby Crown Inn, in the company of goats, rabbits and guinea pigs. We were pleased to see that none of these featured on the menu. To celebrate the first day of Geoffrey’s retirement, he treated us all to glasses of Prosecco and Harriet produced an excellent cake. Continue reading Saturday 1st July. Amberley circular