Seven of us set off on stage 1 of the Vanguard Way on a sparkling, frosty winter’s day. After leaving suburban Croydon we walked through parks and woodland where we encountered a certain amount of mud and ice. For lunch we stopped at a sunny clearing and sat on wooden posts like elves to eat our sandwiches. Here we heard a woodpecker tapping. We came to a pretty 11th Century church at Farleigh, but it was locked so we couldn’t look inside. At Chelsham Common we caught a school bus, with 100 schoolkids (as the driver warned us) and had to wait while they all queued up to pay their fare in cash. After visiting a local pub for refreshment we caught the train home from Whyteleafe.