More motorway madness as Annie navigates her bicycle back up the M2 – ooops

Saturday emerged all murky and grey, so Annie decided that the planned Sole Street to Rochester 12 miler over the Wealden Way and the North Downs was too tame, easily solved by biking 6 miles to the start instead of hitching the train……not wise.  Who knew the Medway was so hilly, who knew that no-one in Rochester (including the taxi drivers) had ever heard of Sole Street.  These facts combined with a genius for navigation led to…… a 20 mile bike ride which included sections of the M2, Annie starting the walk an hour and twenty minutes behind the team sans map, a very hot red face and the realisation that the Five Peaks challenge was going to be tougher than Annie had ever thought.

Ha ha....yes the lower finger was me the upper finger them. Very funny...

The very thoughtful Clair chalked up instructions for the feckless Annie whose 31st phone call had clearly begun to irritate the nature lovers…  the walk took in Luddesdown, Upper and Lower Bush and a few other Medway villages, not amazing views but the ridgeway of the North Downs down to the Medway was pretty neat.

Annie wondered if they had signed the "wrong way" but just for a moment....

Catching up with the gang after a mere three hours I received a bit of a beating…..deserved…we moved swiftly on to Rochester, full of history and contradiction with a Norman castle, a magnificent cathedral, truly excellent tea rooms on one side and then a miserable modern iteration of the worst kind of High Street on the other.

Rochester - a town of contradiction

A solitary walk due to incompetance so not too many stories to recount, however, Rochester is worth a visit and the walk is worth a day of your time especially if you are up for a cruise.  Next stop Annie leads a walk….OMG

Week 3 of Christmas shenanigans, ouch…..Annie needed a stride…20 mile Knockholt circular…fabulous

Three weeks of Birthday and Christmas events, Annie’s apparent lack of will power (don’t believe it)  and the mulled wine and mince pie fests starting on Monday meant the glorious blue sky,  frosty fields and threatened snow meant it was time to get togged up for a 20 miler.  Broke Hill golf course bereft of golfers looked stunning with the low winter sun breaking across the bunkers.

A little early for the golfers of Broke Hill

The ground, icy underfoot, flew past at pace, with a skid here and there it was a little faster than planned.  What ho’ wellington boots were these walkers mad, skid-slide-grimace-ouch, ummm Annie was not impressed the wellies were winning the battle and the war. (Not sure about the fashion statement though)…

So much for Meindle, Brasher, Salomon and Wengen...Hunter look alikes won the day

As the pace quickened the snow decided to fall, the ice melted and gave way to mud-glorious-mud, you guessed it the wellies continued to be the choice of the day.  Lilia, no need for footwear, loved the snow if not the need for a lead.

I am a shepherd let me near those sheep....please.

The walk, taking us along the shady side of the North Downs and into Downe, the home of some good pubs, an awesome tea shoppe and the home of Charles Darwin, was filled with significant homes, historical sites and views to boot (titter).

Canary Wharf, the Shard and a City of London vista in the distance....deadly

Downe Village - cute as a bug

A quick stop at The Queen’s Head, roaring fire, pints of Bass and plates of chips, (Rufus if only….) and then Annie realised that her Oakley’s had gone MIA at some point over the last 11 Miles.  OMG would she have to revert to her Ray Bans….life was tough.

On almost the shortest day of the year the final 8 miles were done in 2 hours flat, blimey, the sun reappeared, which did not help the rather feeble snowman, but did help our skidding footsteps.

Not sure I will make it to Christmas

No guide to the full 20 but here is a shortened version that might do the trick.  This walk is about 20 miles from central London, a really quick train journey away, it really is worth a crack, we even saw deer, if not a golfer.

Hot off the press, Sunday morning saw Annie retrack her steps and yippee the sunnies were found.

Its autumn, the leaves are glorious and the forecast is…sunshine…anyone for a walk in The Chilterns before HS2?

Annie missing the company of Grizzle, Rufus and other assorted hounds realised she was getting a complex about their rejection so decided to get over it and go walking anyway.  One of the team had devised or thieved a cunning march that took in The fabulous Ridgeway, with a stride past Chequers and a look at the route of the ill-conceived HS2 project this was the walk for me.  A quick charge around the M25,  a 5 mile bike ride back to Princes Risborough….armed with apples and squash Annie was ready for the off.

The Ridgeway, aka Britain’s oldest road, with views stretching miles across the Chilterns was covered in the gold of Autumn what a treat.  No mishaps, no issues, no dogs stealing picnics (Rufus), well we did lose a fellow traveller, no idea how or why and to be brutal I didn’t really care, some walk leader I would make….ok ok we did stop, whistle, retrace steps and find the wayward one, the shame of it.  Titter.

Onward and upward we strode, crossing field and dale with barely a care in the world we came upon Coombe Hill and a memorial to men who died in the Boer war, this is one of the first war memorials to named individuals and is pretty impressive indeed.

OK OK Annie what about the picnic, the tea, the snaffling (Rufus here)……that is a toadstool and probably poison…what are you thinking of?

Storming down into Wendover we arrived at the tea shop (actually a fully fledged Chocolaterie), Rumseys, for tea, coffee and truly fabulous cakes.

Not a walk with too many giggles to report but a very excellent walk indeed.  Chequers was pretty spectacular but we did not want to fall foul of the 2005 Serious Organised Crime and Police Act so no pictures…. The campaign against HS2 was evident but the calls to action non-existent, the message bizarre “no business case” what about “Stop this wilful, destructive, billion pound, wildlife killing, footpath closing, dog of an idea.  DO SOMETHING, sign petitions, write to your MP, stand up and shout, put a poster in your window, tell the Campaign that their website needs to get graphical, where are the pictures, where are the people?  Rant over….for now.

British wine….delicious…award winning and just off the M25…Denbies vineyards it is then

With a forecast of rain-rain-rain it was all weather gear for our trek to…well just to the hills of the North Downs above Dorking, Surrey, for a short 8 miler past the glorious regency house, Polesden Lacey and onto the footpaths of the Denbies wine estate, no little tourist trains to save our young legs thank you, but plenty of degustation and cream teas for those less focussed on their figures!

Grapes glorious grapes

Striding out from Boxhill and Westhumble train station – no parking fees – and easy access to London,  it became evident that the sun had got his hat on and the team were more than over dressed for the day, not Annie who was travelling light of course (don’t worry I had my apples).

Polesden Lacey, come on down for geo caching adventures and a host of other bizarre National Trust attractions, or just stroll by in the Autumn sun, it is a stunner.  (Sorry forgot to take a picture… so more vines).

On on and up to the vineyards where we were treated to a personal infomercial by Phillipa, oenophile extraordinaire and well versed in the story of Denbies, (was she being paid).  Notable facts…Denbies are the first UK vineyard to attempt to grow/produce Sauvignon Blanc, they have now planted Pinot Noire (the exalted grape of the Burgundy region), the estate is the largest single owned estate in Northern Europe..etcetera etcetera, however, she could not or would not testify to the quality of the cakes served in the tea shop…shame.

Gorgeous Autumn colours of the North Downs

This is not a challenging walk but a walk that is well worth doing, not least as planned correctly it can end in a fabulous wine tasting with cream tea….bizarre yes but apparently it works.

I am not sure I can guarantee everyone the ending we had but a double rainbow finished the day off for the team – wow.

We all chased the leprechaun but the only gold was found on the label of the award winning wine (such wit)..

Splish – splash – sprinkle and splosh….a weather forecast for April not June…Oxted-to-Oxted 12 miler were we mad?

All weather gear was the theme of the day with a forecast that was more Borneo than Surrey we headed out of Oxted and swiftly onto Limpsfield. (Oxted is, according to the Telegraph, the 20th richest town in Britain….must be because they don’t spend any money as the town is about as dull and uninspiring as any in the region), I do not recommend a visit.

Above is a snap I took following my Chipstead to Brighton bike ride yesterday, why, because it is what June, and a town worth visiting, should look like!

Heading up from Limpsfield we tracked across the top of the ridge of the Greensand Way with pretty fantastic views up to the North Downs and on the other side down to the Weald. Sadly the Bluebells were long gone, the rhododendron were clinging on but not in sufficient number to be of interest, so all-in-all this walk was about talking too much and staying dry in the woods. (Note for Rufus, a smaller version of you was spied on the walk, no barking, no picnic thieving and no hair clips, listen and learn). Decision made, there would be an early diversion to Westerham for a tea and cake stop, all was not lost. No Chartwell for us today, but as Winston said “I am bored with it all…” (well I’m not really but needed a Winston quote and didn’t feel that “fighting them on the beaches” worked).

Yum, the cakes looked fantastic but the theory is that they were bought in so no advert for this venue I am afraid. If you do happen to visit Westerham the Brasserie, Le Rendezvous is to be recommended for all things French.

In the spirit of General Wolfe we marched on-on to….. well to Oxted as it happens, for a quencher in the very fine Weatherspoons, told you Oxted was not to be visited.

A poorly written tale for what was actually a grand stroll…had the sun been high in the sky it is a meander that is well worth doing and well documented elsewhere, just look up Oxted circular.

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