Puffing and crayfish

Dave the Navigator and Head of Apres Drinking Martin Perkins were beaten to the Skimmington Castle on Reigate Heath for pre-walk drinks on Friday 30 May by Johns Parker and Marshall – a notable event as this was only the second time these two stalwarts had been bested in three years of walking.  

The Reigate eleven

Others gradually arrived and eleven walkers set out southwards, then turning west past horse paddocks and on to the curiously named Trumpets Hill Road. After skirting the pictoresque Little Santon Farm, the group arrived on the banks of the River Mole, where Dave the Navigator pointed out the string of pill boxes which had formed part of the defences against invasion in 1940.

Near Rice Bridge (photo Brendan Redmond)

As we crossed the Rice Bridge, we were intrigued by the Enid Blyton scene of two small boys fishing on the river bank, proudly showed us their catch of crayfish before returning them into the tranquil water. The route led westwards over sunny meadows, then turned northwards towards Betchworth and much-needed refreshment at The Dolphin pub.

Well-fortified, the group followed the Greensand Way up Sandy Lane until meeting one of the steepest flights of steps on any walk. After much puffing, all reached the top without cardiac arrest. The going became easier as the route led eastwards back towards Reigate, with open views northwards to the ridge of the downs.

Skirting wheat field near end of walk

A highlight near the end was the visit to a tiny church converted from a windmill perched on the summit of Reigate Heath beside the golf clubhouse. The group inspected the interior and sang a tuneful "My Lord". Although the acoustics were good, it was agreed not to recommend it as a concert venue as, with full choir in attendance, there would be no room for any audience.  

John Marshall cadges a classic lift (photo Trevor Watkins)

The final short stretch back up to the Skim for dinner was enhanced by a stream of classic cars heading to a meeting in the car park. John Marshall inventively flagged one down and cadged a lift up to the pub.

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