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Walkers smash distance record

Fifteen walkers left the Feathers pub in Merstham at 1.30pm on 3 April in glorious sunshine. We stopped at St Katherine's Church, where we were invited to sing by a church official who had come to our concerts at the village hall, and My Lord soon resounded in the generous acoustic.

Enjoying the spring weather en route to a record

We passed an ancient yew in the churchyard, then ascended Church Hill on to the downs, with magnificent views over Ashstead Hill and Reigate Hill golf course. Then came a stretch of open farmland followed by crossing Chipstead High Road. We reprised a section of an earlier walk, with views across to the Long Plantation.

At St Katherine's, Merstham - photo Trevor Watkins

Phil Willis' German Shepherd Suki behaved impeccably while passing sheep and gambolling lambs, but was noticeably cowed when we encountered larger brown cattle. After sighting Ernest Williams' Old School House, we arrived at the White Hart for welcome refreshment in the warm spring sun.

Spring sunshine and shadow

We next passed through Chipstead Rugby Club, then skirted the picturesque Elmore Pond before reaching The Grove and its Coffin Path, named for the routes by which  the dead were carried to churches. Dave, Phil and Martin reminisced about their labours clearing the invasive laurel thickets from this lovely woodland – allowing us to inspect a magnificent giant redwood nearby.

Phil and Trevor inspect giant redwood

Next came a downhill stretch to the five-mile point on the A23, where just one of the party opted out, cadging a lift to the finish from social member Ted Mouat.  Following two other early drop-outs, we were now twelve strong. We crossed the old bridge over the route of the 1805 Croydon, Merstham and Godstone horse-drawn railway and made a steep ascent back to the crest of the downs. Near Netherne Village (previously a psychiatric hospital), we returned to rolling farmland above the route of the London-Brighton railway tunnels, evidenced by two monumental structures surrounding ventilation shafts.

We returned to the Feathers at 5.30pm, having set a new choir walking record by covering 7.28 miles – smashing the previous best by more than a mile.

The record breakers (apart from man in front of signpost)


 
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