2018

Day 2 – onto the North Downs Way, the horror, the horror …

I was under the mistaken belief that today’s walk was a mere 21Km so we had a lazy start. Paul and I continued along the River Wey past Guildford until we met the North Downs Way which is also the Pilgrims Way travelling from Winchester. After pausing for photos we started on the path that will take us to Canterbury and then Dover.

The ladies of Guildford were riding their horses through Chantry wood, churning the mud as we yielded to them. I asked one rider to stand and deliver but she rode on.

Next we climbed the 175m St Martha’s hill with its church at the summit. The views here are impressive and the church historic, dating from the 12th century. We sat on a bench to look out across southern England when a young Swiss couple appeared with identical backpacks to me and the very same umbrella. Eveline & Beat are walking along the entire E2 long distance footpath from Scotland which I mentioned a few days ago. They had stayed at the Best Western in Weybridge on Sunday night and must have been slightly ahead of us yesterday. We had a long chat about their incredible walk so far and we walked together to Newlands Corner. I was keen to hear about the umbrella which fights rain and sun and which I’ll be using later. Being young and fit, they continued walking while Paul and I turned our attention to the popular cafe. Good luck to you both and I hope to hear more about your journey.

Our breakfast was long overdue and with little hesitation we ordered “Breakfast”. It should have said “Breakfast & Lunch”. Meanwhile outside the rain started to fall. We resumed our walk in high spirits and soon met Chris, a retired teacher who is walking from Edinburgh to Hastings along a route which he had devised himself. I don’t think he had spoken to anyone since crossing Hadrian’s Wall so we had another interesting talk about his experiences.

But oh dear, we soon had the misfortune to see a dreadful sight. A young deer was trapped in a wire fence, its rear leg jammed between the wires and all skin and flesh had been stripped to bare bone. The poor creature was thrashing about in terror. It would have been too dangerous to attempt to free it and there was no way to deliver a humane end to its life. I called the RSPCA and waited while their system asked me to press 1 to order greeting cards, 2 for my nearest shop… 8 for an injured bird, 9 for a wild animal trapped in a fence. Then another set of questions about the size of the animal. I finally got through to presumably the only telephone operator waiting for my call. First I had to give her all my personal details and then she asked about the colour of the deer. And on it went. Eventually she asked for the postcode. I described the location and offered the grid reference but she had no use for that. Eventually she found a postcode for the North Downs Way somewhere near Dover. I described the exact location and we went round in circles for ages until I could not stand her stupidity anymore. Please never give a penny to the RSPCA; it’s only motivation is political incorrectness.

We still feel dreadful to imagine the poor animal still trapped as I write and the uselessness of the RSPCA. Its founders would be ashamed.

We walked in silence, the rain falling and the kilometres piling up without sight of our destination, England’s largest vineyard with 300,000 vines. Eventually we arrived. I’ve been here before and should have remembered the days Martin and I have walked around the estate. It’s enormous. So we still had many more kilometres to walk before we finally found the accommodation. The visitor centre was closing and there was no dinner, never mind a glass of the fizzy stuff. But the kind gentleman who runs the house produced 2 tins of Carling Black Label lager for us and then cooked us a pasta dinner in his kitchen. Meanwhile Denbies pocketed a handsome £110 for our rather dull room. Onwards tomorrow to Godstone.

Eveline and Beat on St Martha’s Hill

In the distance Eveline and Beat brave the rain under their impressive umbrellas

Chris joins us for awhile

Here is a WW2 pillbox

Our accommodation at Denbies vineyard

About Tim

Pilgrim on the Via Francigena

4 comments on “Day 2 – onto the North Downs Way, the horror, the horror …

  1. I told you the umbrella would be a good idea! But glad to hear the rain didn’t dampen your spirits (ha)

    • You’re right I’m looking forward to you bringing it on Saturday

  2. A sorry tale, but I suspect the police or fire service would ask the same questions nowadays. Wire cutters on the shopping list tomorrow. Or a shotgun.

    • Indeed the shotgun was the only option. Then we’d have had the additional bonus of juicy venison burgers for dinner

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