Walkers carry on 

Twelve walkers left the delightful Hare and Hounds in Godstone on 16 March ready to enjoy the most glorious sunny weather for many walks. 

The group departs from the Hare and Hounds

The group turned right onto a grassy mound which Dave the Navigator explained was the site of the old Godstone windmill – and also the spot where we  celebrated Martin "Polly" Perkins completing a solstice walk unscathed, 12 months after his catastrophic fall in December 2015.

After traversing a fenced-in path between Godstone lakes, formerly sand extraction pits and one now the Divers Cove open water swimming facility, the group emerged onto the modern haul road linking the current sandpits to the M25 roundabout. Great care was taken looking out for trucks until we reached the safety of the footpath.

Delighting in the spring sunshine

The next challenges were negotiating mud and puddles, still extensive after the winter's incessant rain. After pausing to admire the vista over the sandpits up to the North Downs escarpment, Dave drew the gang to a second halt for a history lesson in front of Bletchingley Place. The group showed their customary failure to recollect his lectures about the Tudor building on previous walks: it had once been the gatehouse to Bletchingley Palace, given by Henry VIII to Anne of Cleves as part of his divorce settlement in 1540.  After passing through open farmland and alongside Pendell Court, now the Hawthorns School, Dave pontificated again about Pendell House, designed by Inigo Jones, the Palladian architect famous for the Queen's House in Greenwich and the Banqueting House in Whitehall.


Open farmland above Sandy Lane

Undeterred, Dave led the group across the dangerous corner in Brewerstreet at the bottom of Sandy Lane and up onto open grassland. When back on a narrow lane, this time he succeeded in grabbing their attention on viewing an historic building. This was the William IV public house, sadly now shut and boarded up and therefore not providing temptation for an unscheduled refreshment stop as on a previous walk. A sneaky back route through woodland soon found us at the Red Lion where we could sit outside in the sun for a rest and a pint.

It was downhill all the way on the return leg, past Bletchingley Church, through the golf course and skirting the sandpit once again. Back at the Hare and Hounds, news was breaking about people being advised not to go to pubs. The friendly staff provided an excellent meal, although the atmosphere was a little sombre as it was probably going to be the last walking supper for a while.