|Leith Hill, highest point on the Greensand Way (and higher than anywhere on the North Downs Way!)|
When I first started longer distance walks in 2007, the first long walk I did was along the Greensand Way, which runs past about 100 yards from my house. It goes for 110 miles or so from Haslemere in Surrey to Hamstreet, south of Ashford in Kent and is altogether a very nice walk
The second walk I did was the North Downs Way, which runs from Farnham in Surrey to Dover, either via Canterbury or via Ashford and Folkestone. About 125 miles, or 130 via Canterbury. I didn't like the route as much for two reasons, first because it spends far too long near motorways - the M2, M23, M25, M26 and M20 all feature, not to mention the A2, A24, A28 and A31 - pretty much a clean sweep of trunk routes in Surrey and Kent. And second, because it was a recent route construction done by a government department, and as a result it follows no common-sense path, such as the Pilgrim's Way and the Greensand Way do. Instead it shoots up and down the North Downs on what seems to be a pretty random basis, sometimes several times a day. Its inefficiency in terms of getting from A to B rather offended my engineer's outlook.. and I haven't been back since, except for short sections here and there on other walks.
One thing it did have going for it, was that all this upping and downing was quite strenuous. Accordingly, after ten years I am finally going to have another go at it, as preparation for the Snowdonia Trail, that I shall be doing in July 2017, and Andorra, scheduled for August. It's time ..
I start on Wednesday, 24 May 2017 from Farnham. I shall walk the northern route via Canterbury, having gone the other way last time. It should take a week or so.
The idea is mainly to raise fitness levels, but also to try out and test the equipment. So I am taking a tent and cooking gear with me, all mod cons. However most of the kit is already tried and tested, so it is really more a question of getting the moths out, seeing that nothing is missing, and that it all still does its job efficiently.
Before I go I need to:
- plot the route. I have a handbook, but the North Downs Way handbook is unusually poor. It regularly gets distances and directions wrong. Nowadays I am pretty much paperless so I will simply plot the route onto my Anquet Maps OS mapping, and then follow it. It takes a while to get that completed.
- review the route, to see where I can eat and if I need to book any accommodation - but I might not book, might just play it by ear. Surrey, Sussex and Kent are not out in the wilds exactly, there is lots of choice available. As soon as you book somewhere in advance, your route and timing are fixed
- go through the equipment and do a trial pack and make sure I have all the food, bars etc. that I will need
and, er, that's about it! But before I set off next week, I will either do another post or update this one