A walk today with my special friend, A, who kindly travelled down for the day to support me. Dorking to Reigate via Box Hill – pretty footpaths, lovely views and special memories. The walk was harder than I imagined it to be. I believe that this is because I took the higher, longer North Downs Way rather than the old Pilgrims’ trackway which follows a route slightly further down the escarpment and is not so hilly and slightly shorter. The North Downs Way is much better signposted which is why I took that route. However, what was shown as a nine mile route took over six hours, without many stops and I know we were walking faster than that. I will need to look closer at the route on further days. I need to remember to allow time for the journey from accommodation at the start and end of each day also.
It was fun to cross the stepping stones over the River Mole a mile or so into today’s walk and the views at the top of Box Hill were worth the climb – trusty stick came in handy again! The stones in their present form date from 1946 but took the place of stones which must have crossed the river for many years. The path for a while was under cover of yew trees and box trees – hence the name Box Hill. We passed chalk pits and lime kilns along the way.
Part of the area was being grazed by goats to keep buddleia at bay.
We met a group of ladies from Gloucestershire who were also walking the Pilgrims’ Way in stages over a few years. They were full of enthusiasm for the walking that they do together. Another long hard climb up Colley Hill afforded us some further spectacular views over the Surrey countryside all the way to the South Downs.
After a coffee at a café on at the top of Reigate Hill called Junction 8 (after the nearby M25 motorway) it was a steep climb down the hill to my hotel (with thoughts of the climb back up tomorrow!) I took comfort from the view and mileage marker at the top of Reigate Hill – however, the mileage shown does not take into account distances to accommodation. I was so pleased to spend time with a long-standing friend and grateful for all those years of friendship. (I can’t believe I forgot to ask someone to take our picture – but here is one from around 40 years ago!
From On Friendship
…”And let your best be for your friend.
If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know its flood also.
For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill?
Seek him always with hours to live.
For it is his to fill your need, but not your emptiness.
And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures.
For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.”
The first step of each morning is important to me. It is a new beginning and a sign of hope for the day ahead. I read somewhere that the love of morning is a measure of good health. That makes sense to me – I remember when I was very ill, each day I woke up with a feeling of dread that I would have to go through the whole business of living another day again. I am so grateful that life is not like that now.
I was thinking today about the passing of time generally and along this pilgrimage. The pilgrimage is really a metaphor for life’s journey. It has become apparent already after only walking for nearly a week that the summer has drawn to a close and autumn is here. I remember when I walked this section for the “Ramblings” Radio 4 programme several months ago, Clare Balding mentioning that the blackberries would be ripe by the time I walked the stretch in September and she was right. Signs of autumn were all around today. The extreme heat of the last few days has past, cleared by yesterday’s storm and a kind of soft mellowness is in the air
September always seems like a time for new beginnings – probably because of going back to school with a clean, new pencil case, felt tips that worked and pristine books. My son was born in September and that is always a special memory for me. But it is also a time of farewells. My friend joined me for the walk this morning and we said goodbye for a while at the end, God-willing to meet again soon. My Nana passed away in September – so it is a time of sadness, but fond memories as well. It is easy to reflect on the passing of time when out in the open air and watching nature from day to day. Probably only one song to fit the bill this evening:
Cherish every moment. God Bless.
Here is a full index of my post of my Gratitude Walk along the Pilgrims’ Way from Winchester to Canterbury
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