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Choir walk report 2024 April 29

The blues and whites of spring

Eight walkers left the Hare and Hounds at 2.30pm on April 29, intent on seeing this year’s bluebell display in all its glory.  For once, they started by bus, decanting beyond the M25 beside the Caterham bypass and then heading steeply upwards towards the woods above. 

A glorious blue display

They were soon rewarded with dazzling carpets of bluebells – interspersed with the white blossoms of wild garlic, which enhanced their presence with unmistakable garlic aromas.

It was a chilly but clear day, with some mud lingering from previous downfalls.  After zigzags along the forest track, the eight emerged at the spectacular viewpoint above the M25, with glimpses of the South Downs beyond. 

And pungent white garlin

Then it was on again, with more ascent/descent, and a final bold foray up an unknown path, led by Pete Gillman, which led the walkers to the Harrow, a pub steeped in choir history. 

For it was here, during lockdown, that the late Ted Mouat enquired whether a party of 11 walkers had arrived yet.  When the group did arrive they were banished from the premises. 

That was despite the fact that they had divided groups of six and five and sat a long way apart at the outside tables.  In vain did they protest that they were therefore meeting the Covid regulations; the Harrow management was implacable.

The bluebell eight at the Harrow - steeped in choir history

Our greeting this time was somewhat warmer, and several walkers who scrutinised the menu enquired whether we could use it as a start/finish point on a future walk. The walk group committee promised to consider this suggestion.

The first part of the return leg, following the North Downs Way, was along a tricky road where care was required.  Then it was back to comfortable tracks and paths, with more rich and pungent displays of wild garlic, eventually crossing the M25 and regaining the Hare and Hounds. 

A walker who asked to see the food menu at 5.57pm was sternly advised that dinner did not begin until 6pm.  A substantial meal was nonetheless consumed by all, John Marshall alone in ordering a dessert.  The group headed home at 7pm, already looking forward to the next outing, provisionally scheduled for Moinday May 27. 

The bluebell route in full

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