Saturday 12th January dawned sunny and bright in contrast to the previous day’s twilight and constant downpour. So fourteen Ockendonians boarded the 9.33 for Coulsdon South in high spirits. We were bound for the downlands wedged between Croydon and the M25 for a nine-mile ramble which included the hopefully named Happy Valley.
In order to arrive at the Fox pub at a sensible lunch-time it was decided to do the walk in the reverse direction, which meant following the guide book backwards – a feat easier said than done. Chaldon Church was distinguished by a curious medieval wall painting depicting Heaven and Hell. While the former looked fine but not tremendously attractive, the various torments in Hell were displayed in revolting detail. Medieval motivators clearly valued the stick more than than the carrot.
Several hours later we still seemed miles from the pub. Confidence in the guide, never high, was faltering rapidly when Tony’s map-reading came to the rescue and we reached our destination in good order if several hours behind schedule. Reinforced by a fine meal we strode on but darkness was descending as we regained the station. It had been a superb day in a wonderful landscape with marvellous weather. And we only had to wait a couple of minutes for the train (only about ten seconds for two of us).