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  • Writer's picturekenneth

Walkfest - Rain or Shine

It has been a while since I updated our Blog pages but things have been going well. I think that the first day that we’ve had some wet weather was Wednesday 23rd so that’s not a bad run of things. In fact it seems to mimic our 2019 Walkfest when my photos suggest that we had dry weather until about the same date.

On 23rd September 2019 we were hosting a long distance walk on the North Downs Way from Farnham to Guildford and I can certainly recall us getting wet during the early stages of that walk. This year, the only scheduled event for 23rd was a Walking for Health session – which by its nature would have been a lot shorter.

What this comparison fails to show is that there is a lot more that goes on behind the scenes to make Walkfest successful. For most walks, the organisers will have pre-walked the route earlier in the year before offering it as a Walkfest contribution. But things change so it needs to be re-walked shortly beforehand to make sure that paths haven’t become overgrown, routes closed or diverted due to other works – and of course to ensure that the weather conditions don’t require us to make last minute changes.

And so it was on Wednesday 23rd September that Chris Howard and I – having agreed to lead the Chilworth walk on 25th – had planned to re-check the route. We set off mid-morning and everything was fine – in fact I was in shirtsleeves. We walked through the Gunpowder Mills part of the route and worked our way up to the top of the hill by St Martha’s church where we sat to enjoy the view and have a social chat.

Then it was time to walk back down to the bottom. This slope is steep and we always warn walkers that the path up to and back down from St Martha’s is only for the fit and agile. Going down, we decided that although the path was damp, it would be OK for our group on Friday assuming that we didn’t have heavy rain beforehand. Just as we reached the bottom of the slope, the weather turned. Within a few minutes we were scrabbling to get our waterproofs on and were upping the pace to get back to the start point. It probably only took about 15 minutes to get back to The Percy Arms but by then our trousers were exceedingly wet and clammy from direct rain and run-off from our waterproof tops.

So when you join us for a walk, bear in mind that the events don’t just happen, they all get tested and checked by volunteers who give their time freely to make Walkfest so successful – rain or shine!

As a footnote: there was further rain between 23rd and the walk on the morning of 25th. This pre-walk allowed us to make a judgement about the advisability of including the St Martha’s hill section. In the end, we took two groups on an extended route around the Chilworth works and just took one smaller, fitter group up to the top and back again.

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