Pacem for Donna

The Kingswood Arms, the start for the walk on 25 January 2019, is conveniently located next to Kingswood station and four walkers duly arrived by train for an hour's preparatory refreshment. Those arriving by car quickly boosted numbers to 17 although John Marshall, had to withdraw before starting the walk as beer failed to mollify the effects of too much goose fat on his spuds the previous day. Even so the 16 who actually set off, including walk debutant George Taylor, set a new record for any January walk - and only one short of the all-time record of 17, established in June 2018.

Walkers at start of Banstead Heath

The route led up a short stretch of road and across the busy A217 before entering woodland, following a path parallel to the Dorking Road and then reaching the open spaces and grassland of Banstead Heath. A further stretch through woodland proved tricky as recent rain had left muddy patches on the path before emerging on to flat farmland in sight of the houses in Lower Kingswood.

Crossing farmland near Mugswell

Pedestrian traffic lights aided the re-crossing of the A217 as the walkers headed up Babylon Lane then turned left on to attractive narrow pathways and lanes leading northwards. They entered the hamlet of Mugswell, named from a contraction of St Margaret's Well, and were reassured by Dave the Navigator that although the refreshment stop was still some way off, the route was scenic and downhill. A mile later, the group exited a narrow path beside the charming Well House Inn and dived inside to join social walker Ted Mouat.

The welcoming Well House Inn, Mugswell 

Extremely Tall Roger is a regular at this pub and was soon chatting to the manageress, Donna Nobis-Pacem. The first pint morphed into a second and the well-balanced group started to serenade Donna with a selection of appropriate love songs. Donna exclaimed that we had "made her afternoon" and hoped we would return before too long to entertain her and her customers again.

Faith leads the ascent out of Mugswell

The long first stretch of the walk meant that there were only 1.5 miles to go on the return leg. Buoyed by Donna's appreciation and bright wintery sunshine, the group gamely ascended the steepest hill on the route and emerged on to the deserted fairways of Kingswood Golf Club. The path led through the majestic mansions of the Kingswood estate and crossed the railway under the shadow of the enormous but now nearly deserted Legal and General headquarters. A few minutes later the group were back in the Kingswood Arms for another pint or two and, for many, an excellent three-course dinner.

 

The record-breaking Kingswood sixteen - largest group for a January walk

 

 

 

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