The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Tuesday 23 March 2010

Day 2 - Etchinghill to Dunn Street Farm

23 March
Distance: 15.25 miles
Kit failures: 2

A quiet night was had in our corner of a field, which was not a pre-certainty according to a sign we passed 5 minutes before pitching. It informed us that we were on an army training ground and that troop exercises occur both day and night using blank ammunition. Happily, last night wasn't one of those nights.

Fog was the notable feature when we arose this morning. Everything was shrouded in dampness and we couldn't even see the collosally big antenna mast structure not far from where we were pitched.

The North Downs Way has been incredibly clearly waymarked thus far, but with the lack of visibility on the agricultural land we were crossing, the map had to be broken out to ensure we didn't go awry.

Farmland was left for some open land with interesting geological features (we wondered if the scars were man made at first, but later an information sign (of which there have been lots these first couple of days) told us about the soil slipping over the chalk subsurface, leading to the ripples and scars we could see). From here the Way once again did an admirable job of taking to the high ground. Early on in the day (across the interesting-geological-features bit) we had supposed that there would be a fantastic view on a clear day. Meeting a chap walking his dog a few moments later he opened with the comment that usually you can see Dungeoness 20 miles away. We could only just see the trees at the bottom of the escarpment!

Happily, the gloom did lift as the day went on (showing that we were standing above a remarkable patchwork landscape of flatness) and the sun even made some brief appearances.

Leaving the higher ground to drop down to Wye we detoured through the village to stock up on supplies and to find some lunch. A pub with a roaring fire obliged with the latter when they served us fine (proper) pizza and pannini.

With feet aching, it would have been nice to spend another few hours glued to the sofa there, but with a handful of miles remaining we hauled ourselves back out the door.

A farm which was a disgrace to farmers everywhere was crossed, and a Christian chap gave us a bible reading apiece in a ploughed field and then we were back onto nice, well kept farms (with the most enormous fields I've ever seen).

The last couple of miles passed quickly and earlier than expected we were pitched at Dunn St Farm where the very nice owner (Joe) has donated the £12 fee to Help for Heroes.

As for the kit failures: Mick's watch/altimeter no longer has any function other than telling the time and the mopping-up cloth has lost all of its powers of absorbency (Mick has asked whether I washed it in Tech Wash, but I swear I didn't).

Highlight of the day: the number of kissing gates through which we passed and number of bunches of mistletoe we walked under :-)
Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange


  1. Well done you two. It wouldn't be an end to end if something didn't stop working for one reason or other! The Pizza sounds great - my kind of walking food!

    I'm having a glass of wine for you (aren't I thoughtful?!)


  2. Enjoying the read. Only two weeks until I'm back into the hills!

  3. Shame about the mopping up cloth! Could that jeopardise success?
    Does the altimeter need a new battery, perhaps?
    Pubs with beer and pizzas! - did you subcontract the route design to a notorious Flatlander?

  4. Martin: There weren't enough pubs on the route to be one of mine... I think Mick should have more of a say in the planning.

    Ah - Wendy and the mopping up cloth... That's important gear, that is!