Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Big One - Day 2 - Horley to Stonelands

Distance: 9.49 Miles

The Shipley Bridge Inn - Shipley Bridge, The Prince Albert - Copthorne, The Crown - Turner's Hill, The White Hart - Stonelands

Walkers: Timmeh, Matty, Moo

Terrain: Country Road, Fields.

Weather: Overcast and warm, sunny spells

Notes: Never ever bloody ever walk long distances on road, with a heavy pack, in boots designed for country walking and then walk another ten miles the next day.

1 comment:

Timmeh! said...

Breakfast at he B&B is functional at best. Self-service from a selection of Tesco's "Value" range products, some of which had run out before we arrived. What do Tesco "Value" orange juice and making love in a canoe have in common? They're both fucking close to water. The bread was sliced so thin it couldn't support it's own weight in the toaster, and so came out like corrugated cardboard. I consoled myself with a cup of liquid that is almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea. Never has the word "Value" been so inappropriately used.
Overnight, the whole of the little toe on my right foot has become one large blister, rather like a small balloon with a tiny toenail sticking into it that has inexplicably not caused it to go pop. I dont want to take the knife to another one, so more blister plasters, germolene and tape are applied, fresh socks and off we go.

Leg 2.1
More roads to start, but they're slightly nicer than most of yesterday's. The nurofen+ I took earlier haven't kicked in yet so it's a bit tortuous. Our first planned stop, The Coppingham Arms, is 25 minutes away from opening when we arrive. We make the decision to press on to the next pub rather than wait.
After passing under the Gatwick access road for the M23, we finally get to a bit of country walking. On a footpath that, probably due to it's proximity to the motorway, has seemingly not been used for years and is very overgrown. This very fact lead me to discover the proper technique (or a reasonable approximation to it) for the walking poles. You don't ever swing them in front (this wasn't possible in the long grass), you keep them pointing backwards and use them like a cross-country skier would, keeping in time with your strides, which is a much more natural motion. The combination of softness underfoot, the nurofen kicking in, and my new-found ability with the hiking poles, meant that we made pretty good progress for a little while. We were under the approach for Gatwick here loads of planes flew over our heads for about the next mile.
We then head down a dead-end that looks like it goes under the Motorway on the OS map but actually doesn't, so we had to double-back. At this point I felt something go very wrong inside my boot, and was in substantial pain. I hobbled the next "third of a mile" to the next pub leaning heavily on the sticks. When we got there (The Shipley Bridge Inn) I surveyed the damage. My little toe had exploded! Cleaned it up, repacked it in stuff, and enjoyed a fine pint of Summer Lightning. This would be a pretty decent pub for a nice sunny afternoon, despite being a "Brewer's Fayre", but for its proximity to the M23. Off we go to Copthorne.

Leg 2.2
Very short hop this one, only about a mile, to the Prince Albert in Copthorne.
The walk was OK, being mostly on country tracks. The pub's a nice enough place, with decent beer (Pride IIRC) where we shared a couple of platters of sausages, chicken wings, potato wedges, onion rings and the like, which hit the spot nicely but left us with a bit of a postprandial torpor. A round of coffees sorts us out a bit, so we hit the road again.

Leg 2.3
A nice bit of the walk this, to start with at least; The weather is just about perfect and the terrain is soft underfoot through farmland and some lovely woodland. Then we approach Turner's hill. Having been to Burgess hill and found it mostly flat, I wasn't quite prepared for Turner's hill. It's a bit fecking steep, especially when you're already knackered. Marcus was a hero at this point and took my pack as well as his own so that I could fight my way up the hill unencumbered. Our planned pub, The Red Lion, isn't open, so it's a bit further up the hill to The Crown, where Chris is waiting for us with pints of Spitfire. We love Chris. Especially since he then drove out to Crawley-Down to replenish my now somewhat depleted blister-plaster and elastoplast tape supply.

Leg 2.4
Down the road a bit, but then the last mile is through some nice countryside, the sun is slowly setting and it's just perfect. Matty has a bit of a "moment". Then we arrive at Stonelands West Lodge, our quarters for tonight, get scrubbed up and get out to the pub in time for some decent nosh tonight.

The Evening
The White Hart nr. Stonelands (not to be confused with the White Hart, Chipstead) is mercifully right next door to the B&B. We had originally thought that we might check this place out and then, if it turned out to be a bit shit, we'd head on to The Cat in West Hoathly, which I know to be excellent. Fortunately, the place is brilliant, saving us the 2 mile round trip. The pub itelf is 14th century I think, with a 16th century restaurant extension. When we walk in the chef is wandering around giving away free mini-sushi snacks. The owners are friendly, the beer (Harvey's best) is good, and the food is wholesome, tasty and expertly prepared; and there's baby bunnies to watch eating in the garden. We are first in and last out, but our drinking speed is tempered by our tiredness so we don't quite make it to drunkenness before closing time.
Off to bed.