A walk in the sun

Thirteen walkers plus Nick Hewitt's Misty and Phil Willis' German Shepherd Suki left the Red Lion on August 22 and were soon enjoying outstanding views from the crest of Bletchingley Castle in glorious sunshine. Navigator Dave Bannister regaled the group on how Henry III's royalist forces sacked the castle during their retreat after Simon de Montfort's victory at the Battle of Lewes in 1264.

Banners extols the view from Bletchingley Castle


Striking south through open sheep pasture, the group crossed the arrow-straight Tonbridge-Redhill railway and then arrived at Henshaw's Farm. Nick pointed out that both Geoffrey Howe and Edwina Currie had lived near the farm, though not together. The group crossed the M23 by footbridge and then the railway again before a further railway crossing at Nutfield Station. The Station Pub provided much needed refreshment in the searing heat.


Trevor takes a photo

Shortly after the break the group found former Purley rugby stalwart Sean Hayes chopping wood in his front garden, allowing Martin Perkins, Ralph Osborne and Dave to reminisce on the many times they had played together. Dave helped Sean chop some wood and narrowly avoided firing shards of split wood through his front window.

Photo by Trevor

The group made a detour to avoid a railway crossing under repair and was rewarded with  wonderful views over Redhill Airfield, with its busy population of light aircraft and helicopters. More rolling country led to one of the highlights of the walk, a long narrow foot tunnel back under the M23. Conducted by Dave, we sang the first chorus and verse of My Lord at the tunnel entrance and the remainder of the song in the middle, where the acoustics were amazing – despite the problems of following the conductor in almost total darkness.

Crossing the M23 by footbridge - the tunnel came later (another photo by Trevor)

The group elected to complete the walk by reversing the outward route and ascending  Bletchingley Castle, where they revelled in the late afternoon sun and views over the Weald and the South Downs beyond.  The group then subsided back in the Red Lion where they enjoyed a rewarding dinner.  This was the 36th walk by the choir group since its first outing - by three members of the bass section - on 8 February 2012. Plans are already under way for a fifth anniversary celebration walk.

Eleven of the walkers pose in the sun (missing: Nick Hewitt, his ex-job pal and Misty)

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