Monday, 9 June 2008

Stonegate to Robertsbridge – (East Sussex) – 08/06/08 – 10 miles approx – IVC.

With the temperature forecast to be 24 degrees, I decided that this was a good day to break out the shorts again. In the event not a good idea as around a third of this walk was spent ploughing through nettles of one sort or another.

The weather as promised was perfect, and the shortish first half of the walk was spent going through sunny open fields. Hadrians Wall of course came up in the conversation, with our regular couple intending to do an 8 day holiday along it, and another guy on the walk having done it as well (there goes my exclusive bragging rights then).

After three miles we had already reached our lunch stop at the small village of Burwash. The woman in the pub at first appeared overwhelmed by our numbers (17), but then conceded that as long as we didn’t want the roast (already booked) they would do us lunch. So for a nice change I decided to have the cod and chips. Deciding not to wait for desert giving their one o clock rush (?), me and another guy wandered off to a (quaint Forties throwback) tea room in order to get some cake. However mindful of my weight I decided to forego the chocolate sponge and stick with the coffee and walnut cake instead. Once back at our pre arranged meeting spot, we were caught up by two of our regulars, who had missed the train at Orpington by a couple of minutes.

The second half was fairly non-descript and unexciting, involving trawling along and through miles of overgrown woodland path. Thus there was no ravishing scenary or sexy landmarks, just endless nettles and bushes irritating your legs and whacking you in the face. One of our party had thoughtfully brought along a small pair of hand clippers, however several machetes would probably have been more appropriate. This is apparently known as the remote Weald. I had brought my new camera along, intending to come back with a host of stunning pictures. However the harsh high contrast sunlight and shade, and the lack of things to take anyway, meant that this was not a good day for photography. We did pass (what turned out to be) Kipling’s house Bateman’s in the afternoon, however as is my wont, that was the moment I forgot I had a camera on me.

What the second half of the the walk did have was a series of fairly steep climbs. This however was becoming far too much for one (non regular and) slightly overweight member of our party. Thus he started to become in more and more trouble with each successive gradient. Depite various others giving him water and carrying his rucksack, he was literally collapsing on the grass every time we stopped for a break. In the end the two leaders decided a combination of the final climb being likely to prove too much for him, and the need to get the 1751 hourly train (as he was slowing us all down), meant they lopped a couple of miles off the route (intention was 12 miles). Therefore we finished the last section along some country lane until we reached Robertsbridge station.

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