After so much rain arriving in various named storms and otherwise over the past few weeks, our walk today was dominated by the theme of mud. Right from the start our leader Chris Woolls mentioned the m* word several times to drum into his flock the challenges ahead.
As we set off from remote Ashurst staion, the threat soon became a reality - while most of the worst sections could be partially by-passed, some were enclosed by thick hedges or barbed wire fences. A few intrepid individuals discovered wide detours through adjacent, less muddy fields, hoping their route would not be blocked by impassable fences ahead, while the rest of us ploughed on, almost literally. But as Quentin Crisp once said (I think I am quoting correctly here), 'after a while the mud on your boots can't get any thicker'....
On the day it didn't rain and we could appreciate this beautiful and quiet corner of West Kent. There were no towns or even villages of any size, and the only hamlet we passed through was pretty Fordcombe, where we had a short early lunch stop on the village green benches. About 2/3 of the way round our circular walk The Kingdom 'alpine-style' cafe was very welcome for hot drinks and cakes The rustic-style cafe had large picture windows facing in all directions so was light and airy.
After about 45 minutes it was time to gird our loins and set off again for the remaining 4 miles back to Ashurst station, crossing into Sussex for a mile or so. Despite our slow progress we just made the 16.53 train; if we had missed it it would have been an hour wait for the next. 11 of the 13 walkers got off 30 minutes later to visit the conveniently located Station Inn at Oxted, where we finished the day socialising, drinking and consuming early evening meals. Wetherspoons may not be haute cuisine, but it is often just so convenient and cheap! We also noticed that Eddy had somehow managed to remain looking immaculate, which could hardly be said for most of the rest of us.
Thaks very much to Chris W for so expertly leading the walk, and doing a couple of recces in difficult conditions. We all thoroughly enjoyed the day.