Stage 5 Oxted to Otford
Striding Edge, The Snowdon Zig Zags, Jacobs Ladder all places that are either feared or loathed but are a means to get up or down some of the best hills in the kingdom and capture the difficulty and stamina required – now we give you the Oxted Steps! Of course by not going down them on the previous stage we now have to climb from Oxted to get to the point we turned around. A nice slog uphill in the mud, just the way we like to start the day!
A day when we would go across the border from Surrey into Kent, pass directly South of our flat on the same line of
longitude, cross the Greenwich Meridian, be able to catch a train straight back to our local station and finally tackle the Oxted Steps.
It was such a nice morning as we left the station at Oxted, there was a real Spring feel in the air as we headed off towards the North Downs Way
path and the steps, uphill all the way to start with but time to stop and watch a Woodpecker climbing up a tree. Liz was surprised at how small it was, expecting something a little bit bigger.
Of course if they were as big as Liz imagined I wouldn't like to see the holes they would make in trees.
We were soon at the top of the steps and quickly found out that there weren't as many as we initially thought then followed the trail at the side of the M25, within a stones throw of the motorway but in wonderful countryside.
This stage was starting to get really nice, great weather and views. A bit like the Balcon Sud in the Alps, except that instead of the Chamonix Valley there was the M25 below us and Mont Blanc had shrunk a bit, well, disappeared really!
We even came close to having a scary sheep moment, sitting watching the M25 traffic snake away below us in a sort of Mer du Glace type of way we noticed a bunch of fat but hungry looking sheep. Now unlike the Kinder Mafia
( a hardy bunch of sheep known for their raids on walkers lunches and
snacks ) this gang looked slightly timid and at first tried to run away,
a tactic used by the Normans during the Battle of Hastings, perhaps they
were French sheep? Two of the gang however thought that they could probably get one over the others and gain some cred points by snaffling our chocolate and slowly
backtracked moving closer trying to
psyche us out with he rest of the gang waiting on the crest of the hill obviously ready to make a bolt for it if their mates were caught. In the end after a bit of eyeballing the Oxted Downs boys settled for a bit of bleeting abuse at us.
Spring was definitely in the air, the fields starting to turn green but still a little muddy, luckily today we had our gaiters and there was still enough frost in the ground to harden up a lot of the soggy ground.
We were also taking our time a bit today and it was already quite late in the day when we passed a family walking in the opposite direction hoping to get to Oxted, they had managed to get lost in the woods ahead of us and still had about 12 miles to go with about 90 minutes of daylight left, thankfully we were only 5 miles from our destination but it was going to be a hard tiring slog broken briefly as we walked through carpets of Snowdrops.
Once out of the woods though the final 2 or 3 miles of walking along roads into Otford were really draining,
we thought the station would never materialise but despite the final stretch of road this was the best stage so far, and we were able to catch a train directly back into Catford.
We were a little stiff and weary on the short walk home from the station though, and must have looked worn out because our neighbour, who we met outside his house, thought that we had had a
bad accident or injured ourselves climbing!