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Solstice walkers set record

DECEMBER 22: It was standing room only at the Old Forge Deli in Godstone as a fourteen walkers and two guests tucked into tea and bacon butties at 10.30 on a drizzly winter solstice morning yesterday. As they struck northwards past the site of the old Godstone Windmill, they were joined by a breathless Roger Lee to make the walking party up to fifteen - a record for a complete walk by the choir walking group.

Mike and Ben enjoy the solstice landscape


After passing Divers Cove, a scuba diving centre based in an old gravel pit, they demonstrated their agility in scrambling over stiles before ascending steep wooden steps up the face of the North Downs. Caterham View Point did not live up to its name in the mist but the group were able to admire the bench placed by TV celebrity Angus Deayton and his brothers in memory of thir parents, whose family home was nearby.


The record-breaking fifteen pause in the drizzle

The group descended through Old Park Wood to Caterham School, the alma mater of Navigator Dave. The group dug deep for the ascent to the halfway stop at the Harrow Inn, where they were rewarded with a cosy pub and a fine selection of real ale. The group provided the obligatory entertainment and left to rousing applause for The Soldier's Farewell.

Navigating into the mist

To universal delight it was downhill all the way home, initially along the North Downs Way, where the drizzle was replaced by light cloud and even some blue sky. After crossing the M25, the group paused at the Orpheus Centre, a performing arts centre for the disabled, formerly North Park Farm owned by librettist, songwriter and 1970s Nationwide presenter Richard Stilgoe. Andrew Dadley and Hazel Willson recalled how Stilgoe had invited the choir to sing at the centre in the 1990s, and how much he had enjoyed it.

Sheep and walkers enjoy the afternoon sun

The final stretch included a photo opportunity celebrating Martin Perkins' first completion of a Winter Solstice Walk without involving most of the paramedics and ambulances in the south east. As The Bell had booked our planned late lunch for a week too late, we retired to the White Hart nearby instead for our customary pub grub meal.

The walkers celebrate Martin's survival


 
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