Sometimes the most beautiful paths, require getting lost to be found. I’ve never set out to get lost, but it often happens.
Sun shining, shorts on, we set off to explore Reigate and rediscover Hayley’s roots. Reigate Hill seemed like a good starting point, so after a quick lunch by a duck pond, we made our way to its summit.
We hopped on the North Downs Way, towards a short circular route titled ‘Discover Gatton’. Short was the selling point, having pulled all the muscles in my legs, sprinting like a fool at my school’s Sports Day. There’s nothing like aching after two races to make you feel old.
We wandered down a rocky path, taking in the view, to the bottom of a hill where we found a sculpture. I told Hayley that it was something to do with Capability Brown, then read the sign and realised I’d just made that up. It was a millennium sculpture of some sort, inscribed with religious words and phrases. Hayley did some hand stands.
We left the circle and rejoined the path, or at least we thought we had. There was a fun run set up with pink ribbons marking the way. We assumed the run was following our route and carried on, not paying much attention to the fact that we were walking in a very straight line… on our circular route.
We saw a donkey, walked through a college and cut through a golf course before I plucked up the courage to check the map. We had walked three miles, as the crow flies, from our start point. We were lost. Those f-ing pink ribbons had done a number on us and we were unwittingly walking a 10 km fun run circuit.
There’s nothing worse than going back on yourself, especially when ‘exploring’, so we tried to find another route. Google maps showed us a nice looking route that would have us back in an hour or so. We set off on our new bearing through grasslands teaming with butterflies. I saw; a marbled white (a new one for me), a cardinal beetle straddling a blade of grass, a large skipper and a number of ringlets. Many wins for getting lost already.
Once off the grassland, we discovered that the lovely route google had found us, was a busy main road. The road had one of those verges that kept disappearing or changing sides, forcing us to dive in the hedge to avoid becoming roadkill. It wasn’t our favourite part of the walk. We crossed over the M25 at one point too, which I quite enjoyed, but when I started jumping on the bridge to make it vibrate, Hayley stopped seeing the fun side.
After our third or fourth near death experience, we decided to try our luck with a field that ran alongside the road. It was a wheat field, with no apparent exit! Wheat, as you can see from the photographs, is remarkably sharp.
We explored every single corner, nearly tripping over a snoozing deer at one point, until we eventually found a small gap in the hedge to sneak through, ending up back in the college we’d walked through a few miles before. The wheat field was definitely type two fun, but an experience I’ll not soon forget.
We did eventually rejoin the original path that we’d intended to walk, and it was nice. There was a lake, some cows, a pleasant woodland… There were no golf courses, A roads, M25s, wheat fields or colleges.
Back at the top of the hill we sat, drank a beer and reflected on our poor navigational skills. In two weeks time I’m setting off on a 300 mile walk…
A Kestrel hunted for his supper, as we left Reigate, more explored than it was when we arrived.
Subscribe for more like this
Share with a wanderer
Follow me on Twitter @WillPenrose