I found yesterday’s walk quite hard so I was determined to take a close look at the route before I started off today. There was a long climb up Reigate Hill to start with, to get on to the North Downs’ Way but I was so grateful that my hotel was not right down in the town – I really am not sure how I would have managed that! I thought of getting a taxi to the top of the hill but the roads in Reigate were closed because a race was on and actually the walk to the top on the pavement on the main road was not too hard. I knew I had something to look forward to again during the course of today – the lovely T would be joining me. We had a long telephone conversation the night before over where he should park the car and exactly which route to walk along so that hopefully we would not miss each other and would meet half way. I also have to remember how my pilgrimage has and is impacting on other’s lives – particularly T.
This was a day of motorways (the M25, the M23 and A 23) , and railway lines near the old quarry village of Merstham – we criss-crossed major transport links several times but in between we were nearly always out walking in the countryside. If I listened hard I could hear the motorway, but I really discounted it from my hearing and concentrated on the birdsong. The route passed through Gatton Park, Reigate Hill Golf Club and skirted several woods. The millennium stones at Gatton Park were of interest. Artist Richard Kindersley carved 10 standing stones to mark the double Millennium from the birth of Christ to 2000AD. Each stone represents a 200 year segment and is inscribed with a quotation from a writer prominent in that period. The first stone starts with words from St John, In the beginning the Word was, the final stone has an extract from TS Eliot, a poet who understood so clearly the need to discover meaning in our spiritual uncertainty..
The route today was nowhere near as hilly as yesterday and only took me a few hours to walk – a nice easy day before a long trek tomorrow. I know now everytime I see one of those “viewpoint” signs on the map to be wary – because it means a climb is ahead.
But just before I got to the viewpoint at Gravelly Hill I saw someone coming in the opposite direction:……
T bought me a few further supplies (mainly more socks, energy bars and tissues – because I have a cold!) for the next week and took home some things I have realised I don’t need (a hot water bottle, several tops and some washing) and it led me to consider again simplicity and detachment. Apart from the odd conversation I have been without “news” now for nearly a week and not missed it at all. I have not got drawn into conversations about politics or the state of the world. How wonderful! I am managing without many material things. I am not eating out at the hotels and just generally picking up food on the way. Something always turns up when I need it – I have trust in that now.
The freedom of stripping away of unnecessary possessions is something I love. I really hope I can keep to this philosophy when I return home and not be influenced by the “marketing men”. On the pilgrimage I walk endlessly and travel forward and that is all that is necessary for a while. My luggage is being transferred for me and I realise that is a luxury but there is not much in my suitcase now. I wore this T shirt today because the phrase “Keep Coming Back” is important to me and shows how “stick at it……. ism” can be a good quality. Something necessary for my pilgrimage and also one of the reasons I got well. Also Mike Zito is about to set off from the States for a tour of concerts in this country – the last of which I will just catch at the end of my walk.
A stripping of possessions is not just practical things but also, anxieties, resentments, guilt . Also pleasure, popularity and success. Coming from Harlington (known for its connection to Bunyan) I wondered whether I was now ready to let the ” burden fall from my back”:
“Thus far did I come laden with my sin, Nor could aught ease the grief that I was in, Til I came hither. What a place is this? Must here be the beginning of my bliss? Must here the burden fall off from my back? Must here the strings that bound it to me crack? Blest Cross! Blest Sepulchral blest, rather, be the Man that there was put to shame for me!”
And, talking about my pilgrimage impacting on others, today was my Mum’s birthday. So sorry to have missed seeing her on it. How wonderful to have a mobile phone. Just for her, a special song……… she will understand. God Bless.
Difficult end to the day. Arrived at my accommodation and there was a typed note in the room from yesterday saying that there was no electricity. Unfortunately no hotel staff told me of this when booking in. They showed no urgency in getting an electrician out. We came to a compromise and refunded me and as I was lucky enough still to have T with me we have stayed elsewhere. My agent was very helpful throughout and I get to spend extra time with T!
Here is a full index of my post of my Gratitude Walk along the Pilgrims’ Way from Winchester to Canterbury
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