Looking up at the departure board at Waterloo Station our train appeared with the unexpected word CANCELLED! Oh no! I enquired at the information desk; ‘a faulty train’. They were sorry. The next service to Witley would be a full hour later. I had previously realised that an 8.8 mile walk from Witley might be an issue because of sunset at 16.04 so this was bad news indeed.
A few minutes later several more of my fellow ramblers arrived and with everyone’s help we figured out a new plan of getting the 10.00 train to Haslemere (a fast train which does not stop at Clapham J nor Witley) and doing the walk in reverse [gulp! Never done the walk in that direction]. The ramblers due to join our now non-existent train at Clapham could join our new train at Woking. We got the comms out in a scramble and set off. I thought we might not have time to complete the walk because of the later start so I changed the route to end at Chiddingfold where we could get a bus back to Haslemere.
Anyway, enough of all that train stuff. It was a crisp autumnal day, with a nip of frost in the early morning air but dry and sunny. Lovely for the time of year. The route itself is very rural, deep in the bucolic countryside. We visited an old well (now disused) just on the edge of Haslemere High Street then plunged down into the valley which has several National Trust farms with many small meadows. It was still very muddy in places which surprised me because we’ve had little or no rain for a week. We made good progress in spite of the leaf fall obscuring the path in some places. My thanks to Mary for helping me throughout the walk by reading the guide book steps in backwards order and reversing directions which can’t have been easy.
We had a brief lunch just after 13.00 standing up in a field with the birds looking on enviously. It was a lovely sunny afternoon. We carried on through the fields until eventually getting lost in a large undulating wood near Sydenhurst Farm (I found this part hard to follow on the map). After about 15 minutes lost in the woods we got back on track. It’s surprising how difficult woods can be sometimes! At one point I looked back and couldn’t identify the way we had just come…
Then we had a relatively easy walk to Chiddingfold. Which perhaps restored my credibility as a walk leader a little bit! We got to Chiddingfold just after 14.00 and it was still early so I figured it would still be possible to make it to Witley before sunset. Five of our party opted to leave the walk at this point and caught the bus back to Haslemere. Fair enough, this was the official end of the revised walk anyway and some people had to get back by a certain time and there was always the worry about further train cancellations. Also the pub at Chiddingfold looked inviting!
The remaining eleven of us climbed up a steep slope above the village and headed for Witley.
It was a glorious autumnal afternoon. We clambered over many tall stiles and passed through fields and a muddy wood with signs warning not to stray off the path because of shooting parties! No shots were heard and later we safely crossed the railway line between Witley and Haslemere. No barriers here so you just have to look both ways first. We passed through another muddy wood and by a donkey sanctuary and arrived at Witley station around sunset. We had made good time. We were the only passengers at the little station and then an announcement came saying our 16.17 train to Waterloo was no longer stopping here! It duly shot past us at high speed looking fairly empty. Thanks SWR! So rather than wait and hope for the next one we decided to go south by train to Haslemere. After a half hour wait while getting cold we got the next train to Haslemere and from there it was but a short wait before we were on the next train bound for the big city.
It was a good walk in spite of the train problems and I think everyone enjoyed their day in the countryside. My thanks to everyone for bearing with me and helping find a solution to the broken train!
Rain, cold and grey skies for weeks before; rain, cold and grey skies predicted for weeks after but, on the day of the walk, the weather was wonderful. Warm – for November- with a few feathery clouds in an otherwise perfectly blue sky.
We were lucky enough to have attracted two potential new members who met us at Haslemere station. The walk goes straight up onto a lovely path and then into the woods so there was no trudging through outskirts before the real walk begins. A lot of the day was in woodland but light enough that the sun shone through and lit up the crimson and gold of the fallen leaves and it wasn’t as muddy as had been predicted so it was really the most perfect autumn walk.
We stopped for lunch at Fernhurst where, apart from the pub, there is a tennis club with a small cafe attached and enough benches for us all to sit in the sun and observe local life. A couple with a very nice large dog appeared and we discovered that they had found it on the road and were trying to find out who its owners were. No vets were open on Saturdays to read its microchip, assuming it had one, and they needed to get home to their own dog so one of our new members swung into action. She had worked for the RSPCA and made phone calls but, unfortunately, they weren’t able to help and we needed to got. As we left, a man was seen, waving his hands and looking apologetic. There was a happy reunion.
The next part of the walk was going up a steep sunken lane which was tough going but nothing like as muddy and tricky as it has been in the past so no scrambling up the bank was needed. Eventually we emerged onto Marley Down with beautiful views over the hills, then back into the woods and on to Haslemere where we rewarded ourselves with tea at one of the very nice cafes.
It rained heavily during most of the walk but our small group of 8 polyramblers were all geared up for it! We walked through many parks and woods, Coney hill Park, Sparrows Den, Spring Park woods, Shirley Heath, Cheyne wood, Three Halfpenny wood, Addlington Hills (we had our lunch stop under trees near the viewpoint there), Bramley Bank, Littleheath woods, Selsdon wood, Farleigh Common (where the weather picked up). Happily, the sun stayed out for us on the final hour of our walk and it was a short wait for the 403 at Hamsey Green.
Eleven Polyrambers set off from Westhumble rail station on a six mile circular walk including the village of Mickleham, woodlands making up Norbury Park and the Druids Grove with its fine specimens of ancient Yews.
The weather was unexpectedly fine with only a couple of quick showers passing through. The only pub on route was closed when we passed by, but we were later afforded fine views of the Mole valley including Box Hill from where we picnicked.
The final leg of the walk became a bit of a challenge as the previous day’s wet weather had made sections of the chalky path slippery, but by using poles or holding somebody’s hand everyone managed to stay upright!
Near the end we encountered a large herd of Jersey Cows requiring navigation around certain deposits in the grass using a heads down rambling technique!
Finally, the leader perfectly timed the return to the rail station so that fellow ramblers only had a couple of minutes to wait for a train back to London!
On a warm but overcast morning, nineteen ramblers met at Cambridge Station for a leisurely circular walk along the River Cam to the village of Grantchester. We were pleased to see, amongst that number, three ex-members who lived in the vicinity. They were Heather Preston, Mike Nicholson and Mike ‘Trainers’ Hilton. The latter wore a new pair especially for the occasion!
We started our ramble through a new housing development and then along a tree-lined road which took us to Coe Fen, a marshy area on the banks of the Cam historically used as free grazing land. Passing some cows, we crossed the river by a footbridge and then entered the Paradise Nature Reserve with its native wild flowers. A short section of road walking then took us past Skater’s Meadow and onto the riverside path with further meadows alongside. Punters, paddle boarders and kayakers accompanied us as we headed for Grantchester. There we had lunch in the famous Orchard House Tearooms, the essential riverside stop for undergraduates since it opened in 1897. By this time the sun had come out and many of our number sat in deckchairs in the extensive garden, sampling some excellent scones, with jam and cream, amongst other treats.
Suitably refreshed, the group admired the picture-postcard village, forever associated with the poet Rupert Brooke, before returning to Cambridge along a higher path, enabling views of the Cambridge skyline ahead. Reaching the city, we passed the busy mill pond with its numerous punts awaiting customers before looking at the mathematical footbridge, reputedly free-standing even with all its nuts and bolts removed. A short stroll then took us back to the station although some of our number a little footsore opted for the bus!
The Polytechnic Rambling Club – Walking with friends