[singlepic id=336 w=320 h=240 float=centre] OK, I’ve visited Guildford and Dorking and have walked a bit close to those towns, but spring was so backward that there wasn’t much colour in the landscape, so it’s time for a another visit to the North Downs: this time I’ll walk in the St Marth’s Church area on the Pilgrim’s Way.
The forecast for Tuesday April 30th was excellent, so I kept the day free as far as possible: that didn’t mean that I got away early, as phone calls and things-to-do kept me tied to my desk till lunchtime. So I had a bowl of soup, collected my cameras and set off in bright sunshine. I now have two Panasonic Lumix camera bodies – I had my old G1 refurbished, so I have the luxury of being able to select from wide angle or telephoto without changing lenses.
I parked in Guildford, then set off up the hill to Pewley Down. Here the blackthorn was covered in brilliant white blossom and the vista that opened out had far more green in it than a couple of weeks ago: the effect of sunshine and warmer days.
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This view southwest from Pewley Down looks to Chantries wood, then on towards Leith Hill, and being so close to London is a dense mixture of farms, woods, towns and smaller settlements.
The footpath along the ridge of the down heads east from here, then meets a long row of bourgois houses planted along the ridge: we can be thankful that this didn’t spread further! I veered down into the valley, spotting a holly blue butterfly, which is the first and only blue I’ve seen this year: they are very very late.
Entering the forest on the way up to St Martha’s Hill, I was greeted by wood anenomes.
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The light is good for photography today, and there isn’t too much cloud, whilst puffy summer clouds on a blue sky add to a picture. They do mean that sometimes you have to wait for the cloud to pass to get the brilliance and contrast needed for a good photograph.
After a steady climb for about a mile, you emerge from the forest into the brilliant light with the pretty church sitting at the highest point and surrounded by a modest stone wall. The grave yard is grassy with graves dotted throughout and a young couple were looking at the names on the grave stones. The views to the south and east, along the ridge, are magnificent and stretch away into Sussex and it’s chalk hills.
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This is the Pilgrim’s Way, and also part of the North Downs long-distance path as well as a popular point of interest, but it was quiet on this working day, and as I descended through the pines I could hear the breeze whispering in the pine needles above. The bluebells were beginning to open, where a fortnight ago, there was only a small green spike to be seen and stitchworts and campions were flowering at last bringing some colour to the hedges and woods.
My route left the woods near the Albury where the Apostolic Church came into view – a large nineteenth century catholic church that is one of several possessed by the village.
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The A25 passes by here, so I crossed it and climbed steeply up into the woods of Albury Down, passing the Silent Pool on the way. The stream was dammed to provide water for the farm below and was landscaped to become a place for peaceful contemplation. On this day, there were three boys with bicycles chatting and throwing stones into the still water.
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The afternoon sun created dramatic effects on the dark branches and new leaves of the trees on Albury Down, but there were few wild flowers. I crossed the A25 again and the large car park, then the vistas opened out again looking south in the warm light, so I sat and enjoyed the beauty of the receding hills and woods as the little clouds drifted by.
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I had to trawl past the gin palaces ranged along the ridge of Pewley Down before completing my circuit back to the car, but I’d had had a 9 mile walk with some lovely views, and taken a few photographs that could merit a page in a book….