The first three weeks of Walkfest this year have been blessed by wonderful, bright, warm and sunny weather. Waking up on the morning of Monday 23rd, that weather seemed to be continuing – in spite of the forecast. Walkfest had several events lined up for the day and I’d chosen to join the 12 mile walk along the North Downs Way from Farnham to Guildford. But which would turn out to be correct – the visual evidence at breakfast time or the “risk of rain” shown in the forecast?
Well, we met at Guildford Railway Station at about 9.30am and everything looked OK. Boarding the train to Farnham, we saw clouds building and started wondering. Once we had all arrived at Farnham, done the admin and walked down to the official start of the North Downs Way it was 10.30am and the first spots of rain were making their presence known.
Using the precautionary principle, most of us got out our waterproofs and then we set off. Yes, we had a bit of drizzle along the first stage but it wasn’t long before it had stopped and we were back to shirtsleeves and pleasant walking weather. On a few occasions the threat returned and it was touch and go whether to cover up. However, by lunchtime things were looking good and we had a pleasant picnic lunch sitting of the grass of Puttenham Common.
Our afternoon stage took us past Watts Gallery and through to the River Wey by St Catherine’s before we headed along the river back to Guildford – arriving about 3pm, still dry, with only a hint of rain in the air. We were very lucky! By the time I had left the group and walked half way up the High Street, the rain had started and was becoming more of a nuisance.
This North Downs Way walk was a bit special because it was hosted by Surrey Hills Society – several members of which have trained as Ambassadors for the North Downs Way National Trail. Even more special was that the walk was led by Guy Singer, who is the organiser of Farnham Walking Festival. The Farnham walks take place in May and we have started to liaise more closely so that we can learn from each other and enhance our activities. For example, it was the success of their brochure that led to Guildford Walkfest having one this year.
A big thank you to Guy for leading us and to the weather gods for being benevolent!