Sunday, 6 June 2010

Balcombe to East Grinstead – (Sussex) – 06/06/10 – 11Miles – IVC

Summer must be here then, as this was the first walk this year where I decided I could crack out the shorts again. Unfortunately my first choice pair from the wardrobe seem to have been shrunk by the washing machine, and so I had to go with the faded black ones. Anyway the forecast thunderstorms stayed away for the first half of this walk which found us walking through the rolling countryside of the Weald. Topics of conversation ranged from one member’s recent pilgrimage to the Holy Land, through to my forthcoming exam, with the link between the two being of course the Romans. One interesting moment found us walking along a path with a wire fence on either side of us, with the adjoining fields full of young deer. Continuing on from that we then came through the Royal Botanical Gardens at Wakehurst Place, which by the signage are some type of offshoot of Kew.

Thus the first half of the walk did drag on to the extent that we didn’t make our lunch stop, The Black Cat in West Hoathly, until 1345 (we started at 1115). Anyway I thought I would try the fish and chips, which were fine as lunch goes, but the small portions and £12 price tag were not so acceptable. Thus with the puddings all at a £5.50 minimum, even the regular pudding scoffers (and I don’t just mean myself) decided to give them a miss. Thus having finished dinner and with us all sat in the garden, the sky started to darken followed by a sudden downpour. Now I am not sure what I was thinking at this point, but whilst everyone in the garden rushed inside I decided to first put on my full waterproofs and then come in.

With the rain having eased off, we set off again. However I was determined to prove I hadn’t been too hasty in putting the waterproofs on, and continued on in something of a sweat. Although there was the odd rumble of thunder about there was no more rain, save for the water dripping on us from the trees. Thus by the time I eventually decided I wanted to take them off again we were negotiating a particularly long and muddy downward trail, and there was no mud free place in which to do this. By this time the temperature had gone up, and with the evaporation of the downpour, one felt as if one was going through a rainforest.

Thus for much of the second half of the walk, we alternated between dense forest trails and open fields, which thankfully had no cattle after last weeks run ins with them (but do watch out for the sheep). We also crossed over the Bluebell railway line, but somehow conspired to miss two train photo opportunities there in quick succession. We also skirted along the Wier Wood Reservoir, before taking a trail to bypass the bulk of the town in East Grinstead, before finally arriving at the station. So overall a good but scenically unspectacular day’s walking.

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