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Archive for the ‘cities and towns of the UK’ Category

Had a wonderful day in Canterbury today with the boo ๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ‘ถ๐Ÿป๐Ÿฅฐ travelled to Canterbury by train with Mummy who had a dentist appointment.

Granny and Jamie's adventures

Mummy and Jamie reading the newspaper

Then Jamie and I set off on an adventure… first walking through the ancient Pilgrim’s West Gate,

Granny and Jamie's adventures

Jamie at the West Gate, Canterbury

stopped for a quick hello to Geoffrey Chaucer,

Granny and Jamie's adventures

Geoffrey Chaucer

then to the cathedral to see the Christmas tree and nativity scene.

Granny and Jamie's adventures

The Nativity scene at Canterbury Cathedral

Granny and Jamie's adventures

Jamie loved the Christmas tree

We stopped to say hello to the horse on the way out.

Granny and Jamie's adventures

The wooden horse

And then we strolled along the Roman city walls

Granny and Jamie's adventures

The Roman City Walls

before joining Mummy for tea and pancakes. Afterwards we walked back to the cathedral gate for a quick photo

Granny and Jamie's adventures

Canterbury Cathedral

then onto the train and home.

Granny and Jamie's adventures

On the train

Granny and Jamie's adventures

Fast asleep

I got in a good 5kms walking today…added to my 1000 miles target for 2020.

We left Mummy in Canterbury coz I gifted her 3 days while I babysit Jamie, and treated her to a 2 night stay at The Falstaff Hotel so she can have a rest, unwind and do some business planning for 2020. Looking forward to seeing @lemonfeatherphotography and @businessstoriesphotography go from strength to strength this year.

Once we got home, I had a cup of tea, Jamie had a snooze

Granny and Jamie's adventures

Asleep in his cot

and then we played all afternoon till Daddy got home.

Granny and Jamie's adventures

Its so much fun unpacking the socks

Then it was bathtime

Granny and Jamie's adventures

Bathtime

and after a lot of milk, Jamie finally settled for the night.

In all a wonderful day. Rerun tomorrow without the trip to Canterbury. He really is the best company. We had so much fun. I got down on the floor with him to play and he got so excited he bit my eye ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿคช๐Ÿคช crazy kid.

Its really wonderful to see him looking so well again and especially as he seems to be back to full strength with his feeding…hoorah.

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I got some fantastic gifts from my daughter this Christmas (I always get fantastic gifts….she’s a star gifter) and this was one of them…..a little diary for mine and Jamie’s adventures.

Granny and Jamie's adventure diary

Granny and Jamie’s adventure diary

The first adventure to go into the book will be our trip to London to see the Snowman sculptures. I love this idea, and the only thing I have to figure out, is what format to follow.

Jamie and the Snowman

Jamie and The Snowman

I may just have to wing it and see how it progresses. It was such a wonderful day, albeit short and he was poorly, but he was so well behaved and so sweet. I wish it wasn’t so cold that day, I would have loved to take him out the pram and show him the sculptures properly. But I was concerned about taking him out the warm and into cold every 5 minutes.

Jamie and Granny

Jamie and Granny on the train

Jamie looking adorable

Jamie looking adorable

Besides him being poorly, it would have been tiring for him….but as he gets older, it’ll get easier. Next week we’re going to Canterbury ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ‘ถ๐Ÿป๐Ÿฅฐ๐Ÿ’™

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I decided to follow the #walk1000miles challenge again this year, particularly because I didn’t do much walking last year and because I really want to complete the Pilgrim’s Way.

With the weather what it is, it was very tempting to just snuggle under the covers and sleep during my break again, especially coz I am still so tired, but I resisted the temptation and set off yesterday for my 1st walk of 2020. I didn’t go far mind and only did 2.0375 miles….. so only 997.9625 to go ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚….and then I went back to the house and had a 45 minute snooze.

I was reminded once again that East Peckham has absolutely nothing to distinguish it (that I could see), besides being a Domesday Book village, and my walk did nothing to change my opinion. Although to be fair, there is a Hop House I could see, a few older cottages and the church, so I guess that’s something. But I do wonder why people actually choose to live in some of these places. Besides that its quiet, there is just nothing, and it’s miles from anywhere …..just why?

Something to ponder, but not to know.

I’m delighted that my daughter has decided to do some more walking this year as well and she’s joined the Facebook page. She also wants to focus more on her photography business this year, it will be an opportunity for her to get going again.

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Getting off to a good start yesterday, today I left it a little late to start my walk so only got as far as Dumpton Gap before I headed back home. The weather has been so mild it’s almost difficult to believe its mid-winter. However there was a storm brewing across the channel and the sea was a completely different animal today with wild waves smashing up against the harbour wall and sending spray in every direction including over the gathering observers! It’s fascinating to see how these waves attract more and more people, it seems we cant resist a bit of wildness in our lives.

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super waves

As usual I was unable to resist and so before I set off for Dumpton Gap, I walked down to the harbour to watch and film the wave action. That sounds when the water hits the wall is so thrilling….a loud wwhump that sends shivers through the ground and up your spine.

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stormy weather

I spent ages just watching and filming, getting wet by a rouge wave that crept up from behind and splashed me with icy water. Not the first time and probably won’t be the last!

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waves smashing against the harbour wall

A brisk walk across the beach towards Louisa Bay and as the tide was coming in I had to walk along the concrete walkway rather than continue along the beach. I love this wild kind of weather, it’s so exhilarating and vibrant and energetic…make me feel so alive!

I find the chalk cliffs along the coastline to be endlessly fascinating. It’s incredible to think that these cliffs were once beneath the seas andย formedย from the skeletal remains of minute planktonic green algae that lived floating in the upper levels of the ocean. It’s sad to realise how quickly they are disintegrating and wearing away from sea erosion. The lumps of chalk left behind have hardened into rocks forming an alien landscape.

walk 1000 miles, english coast, isle of thanet, walks in england, winter waves at high tide, broadstairs harbour

chalk cliffs on the Isle of Thanet

walk 1000 miles, english coast, isle of thanet, walks in england, winter waves at high tide, broadstairs harbour

Dumpton Gap – the rocks from the worn away chalk cliffs look like an alien landscape

Coming back the clouds had moved on and the sky was a vibrant blue with puffy clouds here and there.

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reflections at Dumpton Gap, Isle of Thanet

walk 1000 miles, english coast, isle of thanet, walks in england, winter waves at high tide, broadstairs harbour

beautiful Broadstairs, a sight that always lifts my spirits

Once I got home, my daughter and I sat on the couch chatting about the baby and the different options she has now been left with since baby is presenting as breech. Little blighter….oh well. We’ll see.

Besides walking, I’ve been finishing off some of the little cardigans and matinee jackets I’ve been knitting for my grandson. His arrival is now well and truly imminent and we are waiting with bated breath for him to start his incredible journey, the first of many.

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a cardigan for Peanut

I’ve also been reading the 2nd of the books I bought for myself for Xmas: ‘Arabia’ – Levison Wood. It’s really hard going. Not from the reading aspect because he is a very descriptive author and it’s so interesting, but rather it’s the appalling history of the area and the terrible horrors perpetrated against the Syrians that I’m finding so hard to contemplate. I won’t go into too much detail here because I want to write a proper review, suffice to say it’s mind-numbing and shocking stuff.

Day 2 /365 – Broadstairs to Dumpton Gap : 4.68 kms, 8008 steps

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Viking bay to Dumpton Gap

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Wow, I can hardly believe that it’s already 2019!! How did 2018 fly by so fast? But if I consider how much happened during the year, and because I was almost wishing the year away so that we could get closer to the date when my first grandchild (a wee boy) is due, I guess what with the jobs away, my many excursions and shopping expeditions (for some who normally loathes shopping…it was no hardship to shop for baby clothes LOL), the days just flew.

So here we are in 2019. We, my heavily pregnant daughter, excited expectant son-in-law and I, very excited and impatient Granny, saw in the new year watching the London fireworks on BBC1, had a glass of wine to toast the new year, sang a few lines of Auld Lang Syne and by 1am we were in bed. Finally I can say my grandson is due to arrive this year ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ Hoorah.

happy new year, london fireworks new year

Never have I been more excited about a new year’s arrival…

Starting off afresh, for 2019, I’m keen to get back to my walking since I didn’t do much after the mishap I had during my Pilgrim’s Way pilgrimage in August (in fact my walking pretty much came to an abrupt end after that), and I want to be able to make the most of my time at home. So on New Year’s Day, but not too early mind considering the hour of bedtime….I set off on the first of my 2019 #walk1000miles excursions. There were a few people about, mostly dog walkers, but on the whole the streets and beach were empty.

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Viking Bay looking stunning on New Year’s Day 2019

The scenery along this section of the Kent coast is so beautiful and I never tire of walking the same route, which is a good thing, since that is pretty much my only route except when I walk to Margate. I hope to get back to that one of these fine days, but I’m waiting till baby arrives before I venture too far.

Walking to the end of the Ramsgate Harbour arm and back I managed a decent 9.37 kms.

On my way back, as I rounded the corner at Louisa Bay I noticed a huge crowd on the beach at Viking Bay. Puzzled as to what could have attracted so many people, I increased my pace to see what was going on.

walk 1000 miles, new years day swim broadstairs, viking bay, kentish coast

In the distance the crowds…what is going on?

At about the same time I got a whats app message from my daughter to say that they were on the beach to watch the New Year’s Day swimathon!!! Oh my gosh! I had completely forgotten about that. In fact, I had been trying to coerce my son-in-law to join me and take a dip, but he was steadfast in his refusal LOL

So I hurried up even more and with 6 minutes to spare I hit the beach only to hear the countdown, 2 minutes early according to my phone, and before I could get close enough they were running down the beach and into the water.

walk 1000 miles, viking bay broadstairs, walks in england, new years day swim

New Year’s Day swim in Broadstairs

A perfect day for this insane excursion, the water in Viking Bay was like a pond and the air wasn’t freezing or wet like the year before when it rained. I was astounded at the crowds…not only lining the beach, but the pier was packed as well at the Promenade.

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The crowds and swimmers in Broadstairs

First time in the 4 years we’ve lived here that there has been such a turn out for the New Year’s Day swim.

walk 1000 miles, viking bay broadstairs, walks in england, new years day swim

Hardy souls? Or in need of therapy? New Year’s Day swimmers in Broadstairs

After most people had clambered out and we had taken as many photos as we could, as we were leaving we spotted Santa so stopped so that Peanut could meet him for the first time hahaha and for a photo with Mummy.

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Comparing girths…Peanut meets Santa for the first time LOL

After which we retired to The Old Curiosity Shop for tea and cake, and then home.

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The Old Curiosity Shop, Broadstairs – where the service is as good as the cake ๐Ÿ™‚

A most satisfactory first day of 2019 and one day closer to Peanut’s arrival. ๐Ÿ™‚ Hoorah

*footnote* – Apparently, and according to my daughter, we’ll ALL participate next year….thankfully that is still 364 days away LOL

Day 1/365 – 18, 209 steps : Broadstairs to Ramsgate

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Map my Walk

 

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mapmywalk, the pilgrims way, walking the pilgrims way, long distance walks england, backpacking, women walking soloMonday 27th August 2018 Day 7 – Tanners Hatch to Mertsham : 18.90 kms / 43,317 steps elevation 374 meters.

Even though it’s a hostel, with all the accompanying irritations like snoring, switching lights on in the middle of the night, early risers repacking their bags, I do enjoy sleeping at the YHA. Tanners Hatch YHA was a delight.

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see that bed….bottom left…that was my bed ๐Ÿ™‚ perfect – (pic captured off their website)

By morning I was even more determined to book another stay. In the light of morning, sans rain, I had a chance to explore a little more fully….the setting is beautiful, and quite enchanting.

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A couple staying at the YHA offered me a lift to my starting point for today; Box Hill & Westhumble Station. I gratefully accepted as were seriously wayyyy off the Pilgrim’s route. I made myself a quick breakfast of plain pasta and a cup of herbal tea. I was rather hungry by then. Fortunately my trainers had dried out in front of the fire and my clothes too were dry.

A longggg walk later, we finally reached the car park. Note to self….if I do book to stay again, it’s a long walk to the location….don’t take too much stuff. LOL

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Box Hill & Westhumble Station, the starting point for the section to Merstham

By 09:32 I was on my way. I passed the Stepping Stones pub and made a mental note to eat there (next trip??) LOL I loved the house across from the pub.

Within 10 minutes I crossed beneath the motorway….I stopped to admire the beautiful mural before continuing.

Page 78 of the guide: “Walk south along the road with the traffic to the right. At the bus stop go left into a wide entrance. Keep forward past a car park”. Car park?? Uhmmm nope. This I did, except if you go forward you end up on private property. What the guide could have said was ” At the 2nd bus stop go left ….”. This was one of many inconsistent/obscure instructions in the guide book. There were a few more still to come.

My instagram post later that morning: “Box Hill viewpoint: I’m beginning to hate this guide book ๐Ÿ˜ž๐Ÿ˜ž๐Ÿ˜“ After saying goodbye to the ever so delightful Tanners Hatch YHA, I started off from the Westhumble and Box Hill Station. Not long and the guide doesn’t give sufficient information and once again a local had to direct me. Safely traversed the Stepping Stones across the River Mole and started up Box Hill. Now if you’ve never climbed Box Hill..seriously give it a miss, its a bastard and very HIGH with HUNDREDS of very steep steps. The guide says at the start of the 3rd set of steps go right into the trees which I did, and the field is on the right, but it wasn’t it was on the left, so I climbed back up to the steps, carried on climbing, but no further turning to the right and now I’m at the top of the bloody hill, and if I’ve come too far up (no other paths to be seen), then that means I have to go back DOWN these horrible steps and go back along the path I took originally.. I’ve already fallen coming up the slippery slope. No damage but I’m fed up now with the guide. Either way I guess I’ll have to just crack on“.

Box Hill Stepping Stones. Of all the route I had seen or read about along the Pilgrim’s Way, this was what I was most afraid of. The Stepping Stones. My sense of balance is not good and I was wary of crossing them, but I took it slowly, delighted to reach the opposite bank without falling in. ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜

Ahead of me was Box Hill. Little did I know that this was going to be the biggest challenge of the whole walk, and also the beginning of the end….

As per the guide: “At the start of the 3rd flight of steps go right, on a narrow path into the trees. The way, which bears slightly left, can in season be sometimes indistinct“. hmmmm

stepping stones box hill, the national trust, box hill, walking the pilgrims way, the pilgrims way winchester to canterbury, long distance walks england, women walking solo

Box Hill steps….this was not fun!!

stepping stones box hill, the national trust, box hill, walking the pilgrims way, the pilgrims way winchester to canterbury, long distance walks england, women walking solo

what do you mean I have to go up there?

At what appeared to be the 3rd flight of stairs (the guide doesn’t say how many steps are in the 2nd flight) I turned off and followed the path. “Later it climbs a little and soon is near a field (right)“. Again…hmmmm??? Nope, the field was to my left?? I checked mapmywalk and saw that I was headed very close to the river, closer than indicated on the map in the guide. So I walked back up the way I had come and started climbing the next flight of steps….and climbed and climbed and climbed. All the way I kept looking for this narrow path the guide talks about…and I couldn’t find anything. Further along in the guide he mentions “The path, running ahead and with pylons to the right, is on the line of the PW….” Well, no matter which way I looked at it, I could not find a path that would put the pylons on my right! Unless it was this one? Which was a National Trust nature trail?

box hill, national trust, walking the pilgrims way, the pilgrims way winchester to canterbury, long distance walks england, women walking solo

was this the way? it didn’t look like it. it did however look a lot like the path I fell down yesterday

So instead I just kept climbing and after about the 1000th step, steps that are in places so high that I had to lift my legs up individually under the knee with my hands …..and then.. I fell UP a step. A very hard fall that smashed my right shin, left me flat on my face and unable to get up – I just did not have the energy to lift myself up with the backpack on. Fortunately I didn’t fall BACKWARDS, and there was someone on hand to help me up. Seriously, I was exhausted by that stage. I simply couldn’t bear the thought of climbing anymore steps, but I had no choice….all I could do was just to continue going UP and up and up. There were some lovely trees to see….as a bonus LOL

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one of the benefits walking through the countryside…lots of beautiful old trees

More steps….

box hill, national trust, walking the pilgrims way, the pilgrims way winchester to canterbury, long distance walks england, women walking solo

more steps…..the gravel between was treacherously slippery

Finally after what felt like hours of climbing more steps that I ever want to see in front of me ever again. I reached the Box Hill viewpoint.

long distance walks england, walking the pilgrims way, the pilgrims way winchester to canterbury, women walking solo

what a view ๐Ÿ™‚

Referring back to my instagram post:ย “Box Hill viewpoint: I’m beginning to hate this guide book.

I saw that the North Downs Way, which is so well marked, was in my vicinity. So I packed the guide book in my backpack,ย  and carried on walking….I figured that since most of the Pilgrim’s Way is largely a ‘made up’ route and much of it follows the North Downs Way which is well marked, whereas the Pilgrim’s Way isn’t marked at all….

After walking for a while I reached Salomon’s Memorial where I stopped to take a few photos and then carried on walking along some seriously tricky terrain I came out of the trees to a welcome sight before me…a restaurant!! Hoorah. It was 11:46 and the restaurant; Smith & Western opened at 12noon….I figured it would be a good idea to wait and have some proper food….I hadn’t had a proper solid meal for a couple of days. Good move. I had the MOST delicious veggie fajita, a pot of tea and a lovely cold coke. I don’t usually drink coke, but I was in dire need of sugar. After relishing my meal and resting my feet, after an hour I set off once again. Although to be honest, I have no idea how I actually ended up at this place….but boy am I glad I did.

Diving into the gloom of the trees, with the guide still packed away (?) I discovered that the terrain was really difficult with lots of tree roots, and steps…..more steps!!! Jeezuz. I was sick to death of climbing steps whether up or down. In all I was not a happy bunny. This day was turning out to be a nightmare.

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This last section was a true test of endurance. I’m still not sure how I managed….but I did. Trudging on I followed the markers crossing Reigate Hill

and passed the ‘Flying Fortress’ B17 WW2 memorial,

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This clearing in the trees was created at 5.42pm on 19 March 1945 when a B17 (G) aircraft, a ‘Flying Fortress’ creashed into the side of Reigate Hill, killing all 9 crew members on board

the north downs way, reigate hill, national trust, walking the pilgrims way, the pilgrims way winchester to canterbury, long distance walks england, women walking solo

the two wooden sculptures reflect the wing tips of the B17 that crashed

then Reigate Fort, which I briefly explored,

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crossed the Reigate Hill Footbridge and finally Gatton Park where Iย  stopped at the refreshment booth for an ice-cream and a drink, had a rest, a quick pit stop to the loo and after taking a photo of the views and the sundial I picked up what was now the Pilgrim’s Way again and set off towards Merstham and my bed for the night.

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what a fantastic view

Its been a day of sheer unadulterated endurance. But I’m nearly at my destination. Hoorah

Gatton Park is really beautiful and I so enjoyed walking along what was now fairly flat terrain.

gatton park, the north downs way, reigate hill, national trust, walking the pilgrims way, the pilgrims way winchester to canterbury, long distance walks england, women walking solo

hoorah….no steps

On the way down the hill I passed theย Millennium Stones; these awesome stones, built to resemble a megolithic stone circle, were created by Richard Kindersley during 1998 to 1999 to mark the double millennium from AD1 to AD2000. The first stone in the series is inscribed with the words from St Johnโ€™s Gospel, โ€œin the beginning the word was โ€ฆโ€. The subsequent nine stones are carved with quotations contemporary with each 200 year segment, ending with the words of T S Eliot.

reigate fort, the north downs way, reigate hill, national trust, walking the pilgrims way, the pilgrims way winchester to canterbury, long distance walks england, women walking solo

Millenium Stones

After examining the circle and reading some of the inscriptions, I left the stones behind me and after crossing one last green field, I soon reached a more suburban area….nearly there ๐Ÿ™‚

merstham, the north downs way, reigate hill, national trust, walking the pilgrims way, the pilgrims way winchester to canterbury, long distance walks england, women walking solo

at the end of this field was my destination…Merstham

Finally I was in Merstham. It was exactly 7pm and I was so ready for bed.

Thankfully the AirBnb wasn’t too far from where the path ended so in no time at all I found the venue and was greeted by two of the loveliest hosts I have ever met. They were so welcoming, made me a lovely mug of tea and provided some hot food. We had a lovely conversation and then with my eyes barely held open, I made my way upstairs, had a hot hot shower and hopped into bed. Bliss

merstham, the north downs way, reigate hill, national trust, walking the pilgrims way, the pilgrims way winchester to canterbury, long distance walks england, women walking solo

my wonderful bed at the Merstham AirBnb

My instagram post: Merstham: Well. All I can say is that today’s lesson was about not giving up despite the pain, the exhaustion, the frustration and climbing more steep steps than I ever expected or wanted or ever plan to do again ๐Ÿ˜‚ ๐Ÿ˜‚ ๐Ÿ˜‚ Frankly I even amazed myself today at my capacity for endurance. But I can say for sure that I did not enjoy today’s walk. I am shattered, and walked so slowly that I’m surprised ๐Ÿคจ ๐Ÿคจ that I actually got to Merstham at the time I did. My right hip was exceptionally painful today after yesterday’s fall and falling on the steps at Box Hill today didn’t help matters much. Getting to the top of the hills; Box Hill and Reigate, was excruciating but oh my gosh, the views… Stunning. I dosed myself up on 2000 mg of paracetamol over the day and just kept putting one foot in front of the other. However, arrive I did. My Airbnb hosts are absolutely lovely and we had a wonderful chat over a hot cuppa, I’ve wallowed in a scalding hot shower and now I’m horizontal on that fantastic bed. The route was meant to be 15.6 kms, I walked 18.9 kms which included about retracing my steps 3 times. I left Westhumble Station at 9.15 am and arrived at Merstham at 7pm with an hour for lunch and 3 short breaks. The guide book suggests it should take 3.5 hoursย  ๐Ÿ˜‚ ๐Ÿ˜‚ ๐Ÿ˜‚ ๐Ÿ˜‚ ๐Ÿ˜‚ on another planet maybe ๐Ÿ™„๐Ÿ™„๐Ÿ™„

Both the best and most challenging of days. Once again I had to dig deep to carry on, tried to ignore the pain of the 2 falls, enjoyed the views, appreciated good food and climbed more stairs that I ever want to EVER again LOL. But now I’m in a deliciously comfy bed, clean and refreshed….Goodnight…..

p.s. that bottle of water on the bed-stand….remained unopened.

In case you missed Day 6 of my pilgrimage from Winchester click here

Today video of scenes from Day 7

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mapmywalk, the pilgrims way, walking the pilgrims way, long distance walks england, backpacking, women walking soloSunday 26th August 2018 Day 6 – Guildford to Tanners Hatch : 9.73 kms / 21155 stepsย  ย  elevation 216

after a fairly good night’s sleep I started off fairly early after a solid breakfast. Walking along the main road, I was wishing it wasn’t Sunday so I could take the bus back to St Catherine’s village LOL

I reached Ye Olde Ship Inn fairly quickly. First stop was St Catherine’s Chapel;

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St Catherine’s Chapel, Guildford

built around 1317 as a chapel of ease for St Nicholas Church in Guildford, the building was abandoned during the reformation. A lovely little kitty visited me for a chat while I was exploring. The views from the hill were amazing.

Trotting back the first of MANY a downhill over the day, I walked along Ferry Lane passing some super houses towards the River Wey where I discovered this lovely little poem alongside the stream.

I crossed the bridge over the river and walked through a really beautiful nature reserve.

I reached a large green; Shalford Park and following the guide crossed the road and into one of the very few references to the Pilgrims Way I saw along the whole way. Not all roads are pretty.

Passing a pretty cottage that looks like it has the best location ever,

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my ideal location

I followed the sandy lane and soon entered Chantry Wood….now this is more like it. Dappled sunlight shone through the leafy trees, with a breath-taking view across the fields. I stopped for a short while for food etc and watched the world go by…everyone and their uncle cycled past! Weird.

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Chantry Wood, the Pilgrim’s Way

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fantastic views across Surrey

Just after I pulled my backpack on and started walking again, it started to rain and that’s where my troubles began…the ground is very rutted and very sandy in some areas, and walking in the rain along slippy gravel roads was no fun at all, albeit very beautiful. I had by now lost one of the feet off Gemini (my walking poles) and was walking with only one pole, so it was quite tricky to keep my balance. Beside that I couldn’t walk with a pole and carry a guide book in my hand at the same time LOL

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The Pilgrim’s Way

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The Pilgrim’s Way – many feet have passed this way…

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my ideal environment, along the Pilgrim’s Way – flat!!!

I eventually reached St Martha’s Hill about an hour and half after leaving St Catherine’s Chapel and set about climbing and climbing and climbing. Jeepers….I knew from the guide that it was a hill, but holy moly, it’s one thing seeing a hill on a map to actually climbing it with a heavy backpack in the rain. But twas sooo well worth the effort for the views.

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Sometimes called Martyr’s Hill after Thomas Becket, the hill rises 570 feet above sea level giving a view of 7 counties…on a clear day. Today was NOT a clear day, but the view was still amazing. The church; Church of St Martha on the Hill, dating from about 1100, is the church the old man that I met had mentioned the day before near Seale.

The church stands at 573 feet above sea-level and the views are extraordinary. It’s traditionally believed that the original name of the hill was Saints and Martyrs Hill, the martyr beingย St Thomas of Canterbury. ย It is the only church in Surrey to be right on theย Pilgrims’ Way.ย  I stepped through the door to explore and managed a few minutes visit before the morning service began. The Verger kindly signed my pilgrim’s passport and showed me around, pointing out a few of the more significant features. There’s a stained glass window featuring St Thomas Becket.

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I left the church and set off downhill as per the guide. It was raining quite solidly by now and the ground was very wet and slippery. I went down down down and down some more…hanging onto the roots of trees and anything else I could get my hands onto, I slipped and slid down a very steep and most unpleasant pathway; almost vertical. A few people passed me going up..possibly to the church. As I walked I kept referring to the guide for the landmarks, but wasn’t seeing them. I was becoming a tad concerned that I may well be going the wrong way. Suddenly and without any warning I slipped and fell….really hard, onto my bottom. It took the wind out of my sails. I decided to check my walking app and yes, I was definitely not going in the right direction….now, in pain, and slipping on the wet sand, I had to climb back up this blasted hill. It turns out I had been heading downhill towards Chilworth Manor….which was not my destination. urgh.

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going the wrong way… downhill

Finally I got myself back up, reached the crest of the hill and tried to decipher the instructions in the guide, and after much head scratching I realised where I had gone wrong. “Walk through the churchyard and on the far side follow the sandy path which soon veers slightly to the right to go downhill”. Which is what I had done in the first place. What he doesn’t say is that the correct side is directly behind the church (going east) and not to the side (going south). While doing my research on the history of the church, I noticed this information: (The knoll is crossed east-to-west by theย Pilgrims’ Way, which is otherwise on the North Downs.) Now THAT would have been useful information in the guide!!!

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leaving St Martha on the Hill church through the EAST gate, not the south LOL

I was totally unimpressed and in quite a lot of pain by now.ย  But I pulled up my big girl panties and made my way down what was a very sandy path, but a lot less steep and somewhat easier to navigate. the writer may want to rethink his description for this section (amongst others). I now saw the landmarks mentioned in the guide…hoorah! I was on the right track, albeit still very steep and very slippery and it was still raining. I was getting more and more wet, despite the rain poncho, and wasn’t very happy.

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although I’m on the right track, this was almost as bad as the wrong track..slippery and wet

The promised landmarks were now visible and accounted for….

I trudged on but somehow I was totally off course and ended up walking along the very busy A25 motorway, with cars rushing past. I managed to criss-cross the duel carriageway according to where it was safe to walk, and eventually I reached The Silent Pool just on 12.40. Beyond arriving at The Silent Pool I really had no idea which way I was meant to go. I had packed the guide away because it was getting soaked in the rain and besides which I couldn’t see through my misted up glasses.

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The Silent Pool…..a really beautiful place….and it’s still raining

My planned accommodation for the night was YHA Tanners Hatch on Ranmore Common which was well off the Pilgrim’s Way route. Since I had no idea where I was in relation to the YHA, was soaking wet and totally dispiritedย and totally so not in the mood for any further walking, I made the difficult decision to quit for the day. However, being a Sunday, none of the taxis would come out for less than ยฃ20, so since I did have to continue on to Shere…only another 2 miles they said, I continued walking. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

My instagram post revealed just how dispirited I was feeling : “The Dabbling Duck, Shere: Well I’ve had to concede defeat and quit for today. Its been raining since 10.15, I’m soaked to the skin, I can’t see out my glasses to read the guide book, which is a moot point since the book is so wet I cant see the words. ๐Ÿ˜ข๐Ÿ˜ข๐Ÿ˜ขย I’ve stopped in a village called Shere which is roughly halfway, having lunch of lovely hot tomato soup and a pot of tea. I’ve organised a cab to pick me up and take me to my accommodation for tonight. The paths are treacherous and slippery or just puddles of water and I’ve already had a fall walking THE WRONG way down a virtually vertical path down St Martha’s Hill, nothing damaged except my dignity. Except I then had to climb back up again, at which point I surveyed the landscape more thoroughly and found the right way. One of those slightly obscure instructions again. By the bottom of the hill I abandoned the guide book and put my glasses in my pouch and followed my nose, finally arriving by luck at Silent Pool. From there they guided me to Shere where my walking for today must end. From here its on to my accommodation for tonight, a hot shower and bed. I believe tomorrow will be better weather. Hmm ๐Ÿ™„๐Ÿ™„๐Ÿ™„๐Ÿ˜œ๐Ÿ˜œ So onwards.

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The Dabbling Duck; a hot bowl of red pepper soup and rustic bread. delicious

Shere…oh my gosh…what a stunning village. Despite the rain, I was enchanted by the architecture. One of those villages that you wish you could live in; Shere is your quintessential English village with picturesque ancient houses, quaint beyond words. It’s featured in Bridget Jones’s Diary amongst other films. I am definitely going to visit again. Delighted to discover that Shere is mentioned in the 1086 Domesday Book ๐Ÿ™‚

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By now, being wet and very cold and as mentioned before (LOL), I had to sit in a tiny corner of the restaurant to avoid dripping water all over the place. I was absolutely not in the mood for walking. So I gave up and arranged for a cab to take me the final distance to the YHA. I enjoyed the soup at the Dabbling Duck and the tea warmed me up. It was a very good idea to have a meal since there was nothing at the YHA and I didn’t have any food on me besides dried pasta (which I had for breakfast the next day).

My final instagram post for the day – Tanners Hatch: Just about the time that I was starting to despair, after having walked another 4 kms in the rain (after my cab dropped me at the post code but not the locationย  which is seriously remote and off the grid ๐Ÿ™„) I popped in at a farm for directions. I could see the YHA on my Google maps but not how to get there. ๐Ÿ˜ข๐Ÿ˜ข Anyways eventually I found the place after stumbling about and almost caving in to despair, and after checking in, I have a bed for the night, a dry towel, dry clothes and a cup of lovely hot herbal tea. Atm I’m sitting in the lounge of the hostel and knitting the 2nd bootee of a pair while chatting to the other occupants.

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bootees for Peanut – I’m hoping these bootees will encourage my grandchild to be adventurous

There’s a marvellous fire burning brightly in the grate and its lovely and cosy. I’m almost dry and nearly warm ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š So glad I decided to use my contingency fund towards a cab and get here earlier, I would never have found this place in the dark.๐Ÿ˜–๐Ÿ˜– So this is me, signing out till tomorrow.

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our YHA host; Dave got a lovely hot raoring fire going…just the ticket

The area around the YHA is stunning, trees everywhere you look and so many shades of green. Although it was very wet, it was so beautiful I wished I could stay a few days. I’ll definitely have to go back.

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tucked away amongst the trees; YHA Tanners Hatch

After chatting to the other hostelers over tea and the delicious warmth of the fire, I said goodnight and went to bed at about 9pm. Oh gosh I was soooo tired. Too many hills, too much rain, too cold and too hungry. Oh well….onwards LOL

For more about the history of St Martha’s Churchย http://www.parishofchilworth.org.uk/history/st-marthas/full-history/

In case you missed Day 5 of my walk along The Pilgrim’s Way – click here

A short video of the walk; scenes of the route

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