Two walks around Caterham and Nutfield

Ten walkers, including new second tenor Brendan Redmond, set out from the King and Queen, Caterham, on 23 February.  Their route led across Westway Common and through the grounds of the former St Lawrence's Hospital, then turned right along Green Lane. As they reached the former Caterham Barracks site, Navigator Dave pointed out Elizabeth Court Care Home, where walkers had previously serenaded his mum and other residents. 

Crossing Kenley aerodrome 

At Coulsdon Common, the group turned right and continued on, despite protestations from Martin Perkins (aka Head of Apres Drinking) that early refreshment should be taken at The Fox. Instead the group traversed the common and Rydons Wood, then crossed Hayes Lane into Kenley Aerodrome. Here the aforesaid Magnificent Man Martin regaled the group with tales of his derring-do in gliders before a steep and slippery descent on to Whyteleafe Hill and into Whyteleafe.

Nine of the Coulsdon ten (photo Dave Bannister)

As it was a Friday, the walkers were able to avoid the Whyteleafe Tavern, the "pub with no beer" on a previous walk, and repair instead to the excellent Radius Arms.  This micropub has all the requirements of a good pub: multiple real ales, good conversation, no lager, no food and no music. Unfortunately it also serves no tea or coffee, much to the chagrin of social member Ted Mouat, who had just joined us, and was probably the first person ever to ask for tea or coffee there. The "no music" rule  was of course broken when the group broke into song, but judging by the regulars’  applause, this was much appreciated.

The route home took us up through Manor Park and on to Burntwood Lane. Dave asked for suggestions as to the purpose of two Grade II listed towers rising from a field adjacent to the path, before revealing they were platforms for Bofors anti-aircraft guns, part of Kenley Aerodrome's defences in WW2.

The final stage took the group down Essendene Road and past the Sacred Heart Catholic Church back to the King and Queen. Ted rejoined the group and all tucked into pie and chips, the pub's speciality, for dinner. There was a late arrival for dinner in the shape of Peter Gillman,  who missed out the walk on the grounds that he was still in recovery from the second of two operations in the past three months.

For the second outing, eight walkers gathered at The Inn on the Pond, Nutfield Marsh, on 23 March and set off eastwards across the fields, retracing in reverse part of a walk three years earlier. Although navigator Dave was briefly flummoxed by some recent path diversions due to new sand extraction pits, the group soon reached a tunnel under the M23 and enjoyed its excellent acoustic with a quick "My Lord".

The Nutfield eight (photo Brendan Redmond)

The group passed north of Pendell Court, now the Hawthorns School, and safely managed the dangerous crossing at the corner at the bottom of Sandy Lane near Brewer Street farm. A fork in the path in the middle of a field confused the normally reliable Navigator Dave, and the group ended up slightly off course walking up Little Common Lane and encountering the William IV pub. Normally this would be not be a problem, but as it was a Friday the pub was open in the afternoon. Mr Perkins found little resistance as he led the group inside for a "swift half", which not surprisingly was served in pint glasses. Eventually (and after a much apppreciated "Can't Help Falling in Love"), Dave managed to extract the group, reminding them Ted was probably waiting at the official halfway stop a little further on. Dave did send a message to the Ted saying the group had been "unavoidably delayed".

Walkers enjoy refreshment at the Queens Head -  the "official" halfway resting place  (photo Brendan Redmond)

The group crossed the A25 (and avoided going into the Red Lion) and were soon on the scenic path around the site of Bletchingley Castle, with its glorious views southwards. We entered a long, dark tunnel back under the M23 and lined up ready to test its acoustic. Fortunately Tony Keel had brought a torch which Dave used to conduct with and keep everyone in time in the darkness.

Ted was at the Queen's Head when we arrived back at the A25 for the official halfway stop for another "swift half". Due to the "unavoidable delays" on the earlier section of the walk, the route back was revised to be shorter and more direct. Soon we were seated back at the Inn on the Pond enjoying large portions of their excellent pub grub, and of course serenading the waitresses as always...