A walk on the wild side

Only the hardiest choir walkers arrived at the Fleeting Brook in Caterham on December 11, ready for a noon start. Heavy snow had been falling for a couple of hours, and was forecast to continue.  Phil Willis and Dave the Navigator had walked from Caterham Valley while others braved the slippery roads by car or bus.

The valiant six

Fortified by a pint or two, the intrepid and well-wrapped group of six ventured out into the blizzard. Once beyond the former Caterham barracks site, the route led downwards into Happy Valley, a beautiful and peaceful spot in spring or summer, now seeming wild and isolated in the snow.



Striding out along a wintry Happy Valley

The group trudged up through the woods before breaking out into open country at the top of Farthing Downs. Dave explained that this area was of great Neolithic, Iron Age and Roman historical interest. He noted that when his local conservation group had been digging holes for fence posts and way-markers, each hole had to be inspected by an archaeologist.


Five of the six

The group probably did not have this uppermost in their minds as they followed the crest of the ridge, heading directly into the northerly blizzard. They found relief on the descent to Chaldon Way but then had to contend with the steep ascent up New Hill.  Pragmatism ruled as the group shortened the route and found refuge in the Tudor Rose in preference to the planned stop at the  Wattenden Arms.  


Hitting the northerly blizzard on Farthing Down

After supping a pint beside a warming electric fire, the group started homeward along the Coulsdon Road.  They succumbed to a new temptation by pausing at the Fox, which had an inviting log fire.  After further warming and drying, and drinking of ale, plus a short rendition of Can't Help Falling, the group struck out into the gale once more.

As we returned through the barracks site, we paused to sing a verse of O Holy Night through the window of Elizabeth Court Care Home to Jean Bannister, Dave's 91-year-old mum. We were delighted to see that Ted Mouat had braved the conditions to join us for dinner at the Fleeting Brook where all but one diner tucked into the pub's speciality of spit-roasted half-chicken. The exception, who shall remain nameless, had a whole spit-roasted chicken instead.





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