A long walk today as I carry on with the North Downs Way. I decided I would let the train take the strain and got the 0613 from Bedwyn that deposited me at Gomshall just after ten and then a short bus strip got me to Shere where I finished stage one a month ago. A short climb back to the path and then a great walk on the level through woodland with multiple view points over the valley to Ranmore Common. A lot of memories along this section to Box Hill. I walked it in reverse a couple of decades ago when we lived in Send although the route now is improved. It takes in the old pill boxes from WWII using the slopes to improve the views. Ranmore Common has a pub where we had our first meal out after Eleanor was born and I still remember her in a carrycot on the table outside in the spring sunshine.
The descent to the River Mole passes through one of the longest established British Wineries and then, after a scary road crossing, leads to the stepping stones across the River Mole pictured here. From there the ascent is brutal with over 200 steps and slippery slopes. The sun which had been hidden on the level sections chose the ascent to make an appearance which was good for the camera, poor for sweat levels! Box Hill on a sunny weekend is always busy and was suffering from a plague of Jane Austen fans trying to create the picnic scene from Emma. I moved on at speed via the various scenes of a time when much of the downs were industrialised descend to the valley floor. There is a long section here that follows the spring line as the top of the ridge is nothing but roads and that was attractive. The late afternoon sun starting to provide interesting lighting effects, somewhat ruined by the growing intrusion of traffic noise from the M25 on the other side of the Downs. Then a sharp climb to Colley Hill, which was hard as I was running out of energy bars! After than it was all downhill to Merstham station and I made the train with three minutes to spare. Thank God the cafe was open at Redhill and I had twenty minutes to get a sandwich and a drink – my first food since the previous day.
So over 18 miles and 3,000 foot of climb and descent. A good day and I was not to stiff at the end, so the fitness regime is working. However I need to increase the overall speed, especially on the uphill sections. The next stage is going to be over 20 miles so I need to book a long day for that.