Over the time that we have been producing blog pages to support this year’s Walkfest, we have dedicated a number of them to our sponsored walk with Guildford’s Street Angels. Well, the day of the walk finally arrived and on Saturday we assembled at Guildford Station for our walk along the North Downs Way National trail to Dorking. Even the weather gods seemed to have noted the date because, in the midst of a spell of unsettled weather, we managed to choose the only day which was completely dry from the start to the finish of the event.
The Mayor of Guildford was there to see us off. We did invite him to join us but his attire suggested that he was heading for more formal commitments! The main point of this walk was to raise funds for the Street Angels work and we took time over the pre-start photos so that they could be used for additional publicity. It was then down to the riverside and out of town towards Shalford and the bridge over the Wey by the ford with its golden sands (from which it is believed that Guildford gained its name).
Heading up through The Chantries, we started to see marker signs for another organised walk & run (they were doing 50km from Farnham to Reigate – a significant challenge!). By chance, we also passed the other Walkfest event of the day – a herb walk – so were able to exchange greetings.
Our route took us up the hill to St Martha’s Church where we took a few minutes to enjoy the scenery and catch our breath. Heading onwards, our next target was Newlands Corner. Our walk leader – the Vice President of Surrey Hills Society - had clearly got the measure of this group because she steered us straight to the café there for a well-deserved coffee stop.
Moving onwards, we headed through the wooded sections of Netley Heath and a picnic lunch break sitting on the grass by a pleasant view point – where we could watch those long distance folks heading past whilst we relaxed!
You may have noticed an emphasis on food, drink and a degree of relaxation. That was intentional. Apart from the fund raising aspect, we wanted all the walkers to enjoy their day and appreciate the scenery. Another really great aspect of the event was that everyone moved through the group chatting to different people and having a good social time too.
After lunch it was onwards past a large number of WWII pill-boxes which formed part of the last defence line around London and then out onto Ranmore with its wonderful views over Wotton, Westcott and, subsequently, Dorking.
By this point we could begin to anticipate journey’s end. After all, our final destination was Denbies vineyard. But from the top of Ranmore by St Barnabas Church down to the main building is quite a long way. One can begin to understand how large the vineyard is and why they run land-trains around the estate to allow visitors to see it all. However, being seasoned walkers by this stage, we all put our best foot forward and continued on to our target – which we actually reached about 15 minutes ahead of schedule.
Everyone still seemed very perky and happy with their achievement. On behalf of Walkfest, I would like to congratulate all the Street Angels participants and, of course, the Surrey Hills Society volunteers who made it all happen and acted as hosts for the day. Well done everyone!
If you missed the walk but would still like to support it, you can still donate money or sponsor the Angels who walked by visiting http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fund/19Walkfestangelwalk