The joys of autumn

SEPTEMBER 19: This, the first of two autumn walks, started at the George and Dragon pub in Downe – the venue for an apres after a concert in the lovely village church ten or more years ago.  The eleven walkers were soon heading south, passing the manicured West Kent golf course in late summer sunshine.

Elaine and Pat bringing up the rear near Cudham

They turned east towards Berry's Green, crossed the main road and descended though a mobile home site to Blackbush Shaw conservation area and woodland. Some walkers' stamina was tested on the steep ascent to Cudham, but they were rewarded by refreshment in the Blacksmith's Arms – another memorable apres venue from times past, and there was a brief sing in the porch of the adjacent church.

The walkers at Down House (photos Trevor Watkins)

The return journey started over rolling meadows with panoramic views northwards towards London before a challenging descent and re-ascent of the valley that separates Cudham and Downe.  The finish skirted Downe Court and Down House, home of Charles Darwin, celebrated pioneer of the theory of evolution. Dinner was taken at the Queens Head, another ancient pub in Downe village.

OCTOBER 10: Twelve walkers set out from the newly refurbished Blue Ball in Walton-on-the-Hill. After paralleling the busy Dorking road, thankfully 200 yards away, the group crossed the bridge over the M25 and were soon heading for the crest of the North Downs along the ancient Buckland Road track. As so often on our  walks, the weather was excellent and the group picked out local landmarks in the Surrey Weald as they paused at a well-placed bench on the open down-land.

Cresting the North Downs

The walkers crossed back over the motorway and stopped for beer at the isolated Sportsman pub in Mogador, on the site of a royal hunting lodge dating back to Tudor times. The final stretch was over the open countryside of Banstead Heath and beside Walton Heath championship golf course. Although the group were caught by a brief shower, this was compensated for by the photo opportunities afforded by the rainbows. Dinner was taken back at the Blue Ball.

Banners plus rainbow

THE NEXT WALK is scheduled for Monday October 24, 2pm.  Start/finish at White Lion, Warlingham.  Half-time at Whyteleafe Tavern, dinner at White Lion or Horseshoe, Warlingham (next door to White Lion) - to be decided on the day. NB earlier start time. This is the last walk before the clocks go back.  Subsequent walks will have an earlier start time. 

The Walton twelve (plus Suki)

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