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Jay Walking

Vanguard Way: Oxted to East Grinstead

I arrived back at Oxted station on a dismal Saturday, a few week after I’d walked the first part of the Vanguard Way. I waited in the station for a friend to arrive and after he did we set off to where I’d left the route before. There was rain forecast for a lot of the day, and it duly start a persistent drizzle as we headed to the route, so we stopped to put on our waterproofs. We headed on muddy paths to the start of the days walking, the previous few days rain had made sure that most of the paths we walked on would be muddy.

Fields beneath a cloudy sky
Sandstone quarry just off the route

We reached the Vanguard Way, which followed the North Downs Way across a large field, passing a board showing that we’d crossed the Greenwich Meridian. At the end of the field we headed South while the North Downs Way, heading North up on to the chalk ridge. We walked through woods mainly on good tracks, chatting as we walked, I mentioned that the signpost and way marking was very good on the route but somewhat ironically we missed a turn off not realising until we reach a busy road after passing under the M25. It was easy enough to get back on the correct route by walking along the busy Titsey Road, and after a while we headed across a water logged field. I had unwisely decided to use my lightweight walking trainers which were proving to be not very waterproof and my feet began to feel slightly damp, though the rain had stopped by this point.

We headed along side the noisy M25 for about 500 metres before taking a bridge over it, heading further South and thankfully away from it it along a metalled track. There were fields on our right with horses and a few partridges and Titsey woods on our left and after short break we passed though a well maintained farm, then heading slightly uphill to and crossing the Westerham Road. A little later we reached a small village called The Chart, where my friend paused to take off his waterproof trousers. The route took a strange path past the village pub instead of a more direct route which we took. I presume the Vanguard Walkers club just wanted to go past the pub so that they could drop in for a quick pint, we took the shorter route, crossing a road and heading downhill steeply, descending from the top of the Greensand. We passed some very nice looking house and farms, pausing at the bottom of the hill for another break and a drink, the weather had improved by now and it was becoming quite warm.

After the dizzy heights of the Greensand we were now passing through low lying ground, crossing a large semi water logged field with lots of sheep in it. We headed along a road past some nice looking farm buildings, before turning sharply right along, to continue though some farm land and along the edge of some woods. A few kilometres later we reached Troy Town, though we didn’t see much there, just headed along a semi busy road through the small village, turning off along the Tandridge Border Path though a farm. Heading across the farm we got hissed at by an agressive goose, one of a pair though the other one was a lot more pleasant, next we passed through a small field of sheep and final though another small field containing a single ram. My friend remarked that he thought the ram was pretty ugly but I pointed out that he had a whole flock of females to himself so he obviously had some charms.

looking towards the South Down in the distance
A view of the River Eden meandering though some fields

We exited the farm on to a road and began a few kilometres of road walking, heading South. The weather had by now turned warm, the sky had cleared up and the sun was out, a complete change from the start of the walk. Leaving the road we followed the River Eden for a bit, taking a pleasant break sitting on it banks. We were still walking through the bottom of a valley, and after leaving the river we once again met the Tandridge Border Path, continuing South pass a large nice looking house at Starborough Castle, there was a moat showing on the map but no sign of an actual castle. After crossing another road we gradually started a long uphill wall, the start of which was marked by mud infested path, that was difficult to traverse. We’d taken another break before reaching this path, and looking at the map it still seemed like there was a long way to go, I expressed some disappointment in our speed, we didn’t seem to be making much progress.

looking fields near the end of the

We headed on uphill, mainly through woods, on good paths, I was getting pretty warm but had taken off my waterproof top so was pleasantly warm. We passed a collection of farm building and houses along and a little afterward reached the top of the hill and immediately started to descend. We passed through Beeches Farm which smelt remarkable and took a peak at some cows and their calves in a bath, which was where the smell was coming from. Heading steeply downhill we reached a road and walked along till we met a large road, which headed to East Grinstead our destination. We didn’t take the road there but crossed and after a few hundred metres took our leave of the Vanguard Way and set off to East Grinstead via a number of footpaths. It was pretty hard going as we were quite tired, we passed though various grouping of expensive looking houses and a few fields of horses. Stopping at one of them and perching on a fence my friend started to get licked by one of the horse who took a keen interest in his muddy clothes. It took oven an hour of walking to reach East Grinstead, I’d really under estimated the distance from the Vanguard Way to East Grinstead and it mean’t that we’d walked about 31 km (20 miles) during the day, which was further than I’d walked in a long while. It turned out that we’d been walking at a fairly decent pace all day.