20th December 2015: Boxhill

“Where are we?  We need to be going to the right”.  I shouted, staring at a group of walkers quickly receding from us along a wide pathway going up a slope as far as the eye could see.  Perhaps they knew something I didn’t. 
 
“But Nigel, you are the one leading the walk, we are just following.  Anyway we need to go LEFT”.
 
“Oh ‘eck” I thought.  “I’ve got Jeremy Corbyn with me.  Maybe I am looking at the map upside down”.
 
“We need to go up there” I shouted confidently, jabbing in the direction of the nearest path.  Of course I had no idea where it was leading to, but consoled myself  that I could always blame Damien as he was the one who persuaded me to lead the walk.
 
Fortunately, big Hugh was on hand who came to the rescue because he had a map and he could read, but I was somewhat disappointed as we were about half way through, and navigation on the first half  had gone really well.
 
We were in fact in the Gallops area, which is a long and open area by Mickleham Downs, used for leisure riding and exercising horses and we were walking to the summit of Boxhill.  There were about eight of us.  We travelled  a well tested circular walk from  Boxhill and Westhumble station via Norbury Park, Druids Grove, Mickleham Downs and Boxhill Country Park. Before ending up at the Boxhill visitor centre tea shop we admired the magnificent view, even in poor weather, from the famous Salomons view point.
Earlier we had a look from the less spectacular, but still very good Norbury Park viewpoint, where you could see across the Mole valley, Cherkley Court, once the country estate of notorious right wing newspaper magnate, Lord Beaverbrook.  It would be interesting to know what the Beaverbrook press wrote about the Kinder Scout trespass at the time, but we can imagine.
The North Downs where we were, are not high by the standards of hill ranges in the UK, but Boxhill at about 734 feet is among the highest bits of the Downs. Our walk was about 7 miles and there were plenty of ups and downs.  It is more difficult than you think particular in adverse weather.
We had good company, and everyone said they had enjoyed it and felt it was a real country walk.  So I am pleased with the result, and that everyone seemed happy. 
The lesson learned for London members who are not so confident on leading walks because you feel you only have basic navigational skills, is to lead a walk anyway.  It is not the end of the world if you get lost……….just keep going!
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Nigel Green
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