A walk of (part) broken promises: not quite Spring, not quite Bluebell Time, not quite Kent (turned out to be East Sussex). But pretty wonderful, nevertheless. The weather forecast had been dubious, the Met staff nowadays relishing their power to Make Your Flesh Creep. They were wrong. The weather was chilly but blue skies almost all the way.
London Bridge Station in its semi-refurbished splendour remains confusing: easy to cluster in the wrong part of the station, still liable to generate huge ticket office queues on unexpectedly fine Saturdays when the country beckons Londoners to a station normally used only by commuters who don’t buy their tickets there, leading to an insufficiency of machines and ticket windows.
A goodly troupe of 13 Roaders and off Roaders negotiated these hazards and caught the right train, and were then luckily (no 14) joined by Ms Twinkletoes at Petts Wood on the way to Wadhurst, from where this circular walk began.
The station has little to do with the town of the same name, so we were plunging into the Sussex countrywide within minutes of leaving the station, led by Rosie a brave volunteer who volunteered to wear her spectacles to read the printout that we followed almost to the letter the entire day.
(One useful thing we learned, though: “veer” (45 degrees or so) is different from “turn”, 90 degrees. This lack of knowledge enabled us to do the time honoured thing and walk in circles, just for a little while. (Won’t make that mistake again, though we will make something else equally misdirecting. There’s more to walking than just putting one foot in from of the other, you know.)
The countryside was entrancing with trees still black but poised to burst into leaf, the weekend before what David Hockney calls Action Week, when the foliage is transformed into Hockneyesque green.
Little woods, green hollows and then more and more open views as we got closer to Bewl Water, a reservoir created in the 1970s and now the largest body of freshwater in the south east of England. It is still getting bigger, ie deeper.
A convivial lunch at monarchthe Old Vine in Cousley Wood including a Ramble First: Our Man With a Penchant for Puddings managed to eat two of them, a first course steak pudding followed by a dessert apple crumble accompanied by cream and custard. The last crumble, as it happened. The rest of us looked on in awe.
The pub was not, however, as far as half way, and there was more walking after lunch than before it, an imbalance that troubled a few of the walkers, though no one dropped out.
A sighting of bluebells next to Bewl Water was a reminder of delights to come, and the Ramble included bursts of apple blossom, Magnolia, and a sufficiency of primroses. And a gamble of lambs, of course.
Exceptionally good leaf tea at the Cottage Team Room in Wadhurst, and then the Ramble bifurcated with one group taking the shortest route back along the main road to the station and the others seeking peace and quiet on the slightly longer back route.
In fact, both groups eventually got the same train back to London Bridge, where it poured with rain (as the Met people had promised) for the first time that day.
The pictures by Peter and Annie
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Want to relive past walks? Find them in the Archive