Thursday 12 November 2009

December 1, 2009

One bright winter’s morning, the intrepid explorers, Sue, Barbara and Jennifer set out on the Greensand Way from Haslemere.  The intention is to walk the entire Way in easy stages by next summer.  We have read some interesting accounts by others who have achieved this, and it looks as though it goes through delightful countryside, as yet undiscovered by us, despite living in the general area for so long.

We also hope to access the walk by using public transport as far as possible, so to this end, Barbara and Jennifer met bright and early at Waterloo station and met Sue at Haslemere station.  The first part of the walk took us past some amazing mansions on the edge of Haslemere, huge houses with splendid gardens.  We admired the colourful cotoneasters and silver birch trees.

Entering beech woodland, we had the most magnificent autumn colours in front of us, and at first the weather was kind, and we walked in dry and bright conditions.  The views from the top of Gibbet Hill were stunning, with good visbility towards the South Downs.  The A3 is quite noticeable in this area, but it is interesting to note that it is soon going to go underground at this point, and there are significant building works going on at present.  We stopped for our picnic lunch at the edge of the Devil’s Punchbowl, enjoying the spectacular vista.  However, we still had a way to go to reach our goal of Witley staion, so it was a brief pause before pressing on.

It was generally not too muddy, but as the afternoon wore on, it began to rain, a gentle drizzle.  But there was always something to look at, photograph, and comment on.  The range of fungus was fascinating, and I am sure we passed up some tremendous opportunities of trying out tasty morsels.  I have to admit to a personal fear of toadstool poisoning, but Barbara is infinitely more confident.

Fairly predictably, with 3 ladies walking along together, we were not short of conversation, and probably only paused for breath (it has to be said) when the inclines got a little steeper. In general, the waymark signs were reliable, and we only got re-directed at one point, where the sign appeared ambiguous, but luckily we met a man with a dog who put us back on course.  I had expected to meet more walkers, but a Thursday in winter is clearly a deterrent to most.

Shades of night were falling fast by the time we reached Witley station, but we did not have to wait long for a train in either direction, Sue to return to Haslemere, the others to Waterloo.  We estimate that we walked about nine and a half miles, which was a satisfying achievement for a first attempt, and we look forward to the next stage.