Stage 1

Farnham to Guildford

Stage 2

Guildford  to Boxhill

Stage 3

Boxhill to Merstham

Stage 4

Merstham to Oxted

Stage 5

Oxted to Otford

Stage 6

Otford to Rochester

Stage 7

Rochester to Harrietsham

Stage 8

Harrietsham to Wye

Stage 9

Wye to Canterbury

Stage 10

Canterbury to Dover

Stage 11

Wye to Dover

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Stage 8 Harrietsham to Wye

We set off expecting a mixed day weather wise, the nice man at the BBC promised showers in the morning but clearer brighter weather later on in the day.

Advice of the day - 'Do it while you can!' the parting response from a guy we passed after we had told him that we were heading towards Wye, 13 miles away. It is odd to think that most of the people we pass out walking are probably only covering 6 miles at the most which is how we started, now for us a walk doesn't really start until we have done that distance.

It is also surprising, although we are not complaining, that there are so few people making the effort to get out in the countryside even for a short walk. Today we started at a station less than 30 minutes away from South London and would finish at another station from where it would be possible to get a train back to London, walking along a gentle path with plenty of signposts and surrounded by countryside yet I hear people saying how difficult it is to get out or they have no idea where to go.   What would be nice is if the NDW people liaised with British Rail to get special train discounts for those people who are walking the NDW.  The train tickets are costing us a small fortune as we're having to get so many singles.  Bring on the NDW return!!!!!

Well at least we are indeed doing it while we can. It wasn't long before we were feeling the warmth of the sun, still no showers.. After the knee jarring steps and hills of the previous stage, the 13 miles between Harrietsham and Wye proved to be very easy along a straightforward route surrounded by the gentle beauty of rolling hills and blue skies. A large cross carved into the chalk at Lenham commemorates those who died in the two world wars and offers a fine viewpoint, a little later we passed Lenham quarry where there was an unusual thin slate monument on a hill at the side of the road, as we passed wondering what it was for I imagined that it would offer Catherine, who as you can see by hitting the link to her images, is capturing almost the whole of The North Downs with her camera, plenty of scope for some interesting and unusual pictures. We pressed on enjoying the good weather, passing Dunns Street Farm to a cheery greeting by the owners wanting to know where we are heading towards and if we would be camping there that night - the farm has a caravan site.

Then it was on to Eastwell Park, we were walking towards a huge mansion and lake, an old manor? If it was, the ordnance survey chaps missed it when they last updated the local maps. As we moved closer it became apparent that somebody with far more money than taste had quite recently built this mock manor. The real thing, now a hotel, was hidden gracefully behind trees. The final few miles of the walk from Dunn Street were really all you could want from a walk in the countryside, views, classic English village with cricket on the green, all the hawthorn in bloom, apple trees and village pubs. One sad thing, we came across a rabbit which was sitting in the road and making no attempt to run away from us as we approached, once we were close by we realised that it was blind and obviously in a little distress, thankfully it found its way into the fields at the side of the road but we didn't expect it had much chance of surviving. It was such a shame though to experience and see at first hand, in the fields around Perry Farm outside Wye, the damage plastic can do to the environment.

Finally having arrived at Wye with just under an hour to wait for our train we go in search of a pub only to find that the Tickled Trout closed at 3pm! Typical! You have a good walk in warm weather, not driving so can have a pint and as if by a miracle there is a really nice pub with garden by a river and for once you feel like stopping, putting your feet up with a nice beer only to discover that there are still pubs that shut at 3pm on a Saturday! So a short day for us but had we been walking the North Downs Way stage by stage day after day it would have been an ideal stage to follow the previous hills and this time we are hopefully going to follow with another stage tomorrow. Normally when we are out walking Lizzie tends to be some distance behind me as if on a piece of elastic that gets stretched almost to the point where it will snap before she springs back and catches me up, even if I slow down she seems to stay the same distance behind. Today she was obviously feeling the power of the sun and surging ahead. It will be interesting to see how fit she is tomorrow and can we really trust the weatherman?


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