Walkers get happy

It was a bright and chilly morning as nine walkers gathered around the roaring log fire at The Fox on Coulsdon Common on 14 December. They included debutant walker Paul Binge and Roger Parkinson, staging a late arrival after overcoming his navigational challenges in finding the pub.  It proved hard to prise Martin Perkins away from the fire and his pint, but eventually the group prevailed. 

The happy nine

Dave the Navigator led off across the common and into the spectacular but hidden Happy Valley.  He pointed out gradients where he had trained for rugby and had constructed flights of steps during his current volunteer environmental activities. The group avoided the notorious "ski slope", where snow brings out a myriad improvised sledging vehicles, and climbed a gentler track to reach the stunning vistas from the Farthing Down ridge.  

Testing the group on the Happy Valley gradient near the start

The hard-core walkers recalled battling driving snow on the ridge 12 months before – so different to the wintry sunshine bathing them now. After leaving the downs at the north-western corner, the group crossed the London/Brighton rail tracks and road and headed towards Chipstead.

The route alternated between country lanes and grassy meadows before turning left at Vincents Green pond and crossing Chipstead Recreation Ground.  The walkers turned into the White Hart for their refreshing halfway pint. 

Downhill (for a bit) in Happy Valley.

The walkers resumed by traversing Chipstead rugby group and skirting Elmore pond, with its glimmering sheen of ice.   After a wooded stretch parallel to Elmore Road, the group emerged opposite St Margaret's Church, where Dave, Martin and John Marshall had sung with CMVC in 2002.

Then it was down to the A23 and up through the Netherne estate, formerly the site of Netherne psychiatric hospital, then down and up again to Ditches Lane.  Following a bout of bronchitis, Peter Gillman was struggling on the final undulations of Happy Valley, but other walkers stayed back to keep him company.  As the sun set in a near cloudless sky, the group gratefully dived back into The Fox and its warming fire. 

 

Roger (and new friends) before the final uphill stretch

The group was joined by John Parker, previously detained by work commitments,  and Ian Stewart, an avid choir supporter and ex-brother-in-law of Roger Parkinson. Two of the group (Peter and Phil) had to depart promptly after their meal to attend a rehearsal of Another Choir, leaving  the others to yarn away over tasty desserts and copious servings of ale.

The next choir walk is planned for Friday 4 January 2019.  Details to follow.

 

 

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