3-4 November 2012: Holmwood and Holmbury St Mary

The weather on Saturday was good – blue skies and sun nicely illuminating the red/gold autumn trees and views from Leith Hill.  We walked 6 miles, ably led by Jonathan and Don, uphill and down dale, through lots of mud and fallen leaves.  Deniz (8) was the youngest and kept up the pace.

Leith Hill Tower

We stayed at Holmbury St Mary Youth Hostel. It was built in 1935 and still has its original frieze of sporting types round the sitting room – and some of the original game boards. Other things have been updated, so showers, duvets etc.  Luckily Wendy drove out and carried all the food, which meant lots less for the walkers to carry on their backs.

Holmbury Hostel (picture from YHA)

We had tea and cake and then 6 of us went half a mile back through the woods to the village of Holmbury St Mary for the firework display.  This isn’t just an ordinary ‘letting off of fireworks’; its organised by the Bonfire Boys, who are a hangover from the firework- making factories which used to be around this area.  There is an enormous bonfire and guy and then a lot of set pieces in fireworks, this year with an Olympic theme – eg Bradley Wiggins riding his bicycle, Boris Johnson fortunately going up in a puff of smoke.  Its technically very clever and often amusing.  The finale of fireworks was pretty astounding too.  Then back for a late supper and mulled wine.

Overnight the sound of heavy rain kept Deniz awake and in the morning there was a small river running past the door, which influenced the days activities.  Some people went to Gomshall to meet Humphrey and David who’d come out from London on an early train, but only Don then walked with them – Polly, Val, Esin, Deniz, Pauline, Fran had walked enough and went home.

Walking in the woods

Jean and Wendy did a short walk from the hostel and Chris led Linda, Pam  and  Jonathan on a 6 mile beautiful walk back to Dorking, stopping at a fishing lake cafe for sausage sandwiches and visiting the only open charity shop in Dorking station before getting the train.  We were lucky – it was the first train of the day, until mid-afternoon there had been a long bus replacement service.

Great weekend, thanks to Jean for organising it.

Text: Pam. Pictures: Fran

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About Humphrey Southall

Director, Great Britain Historical GIS; Reader in Geography, University of Portsmouth
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