Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Betsoms Hill - Kent Historic County Top

Walk Summary
Entrance and car parking near Botley Hill
Like Ditchling Beacon today seemed a bit of a cheat to me. But completion of the Historic County Tops of England & Wales is a shared project with my wife so if Gina does not fancy a soaking in pouring rain during a 10.81 mile muddy walk (or even a reduced route (slightly) along back roads) when instead you can drive right past or close by - that is good enough for me.
This was the last walk of a shortened trip due to me having to recover from a slightly strained lower back during my efforts in the gym to prepare for my next Scotland expedition - winter mountaineering (including winter skills) course and Munro bagging in Torridon early February later this year.
Reduced walking days meant this last days walking would have been on the day we had to drive home. Not a bad thing and not something I had not done before. But waking up to damp drizzle with the forecast turning to heavy rain made me realise the any resolve Gina had to go along with my plan had instantly disappeared.
What do we do? Come back another day later in the year, or drive by on the A233 and nip out of the van up Betsoms Hill to visit the 4th and final Historic County Top planned this trip.
I don’t think I need to answer the question just to confirm we also included a drive by visit of the days Marilyn, Botley Hill as well as the remaining 3 tops concluding a successful trip by bagging a total of 12 tops against the planned 15.
Maybe Gina's approach is an acceptable way to visit summits more accessible to public highways. We still managed all 5 peaks and still needed our waterproofs. Just did not get the soaking if we had done it my way.

Walk Statistics 4 walks in total
Walk Date - 06 January 2014
Walkers - Steve Smith, Gina Smith

Accommodation - Gatwick Caravan Club Site
Start Point - Various
Start Time - 12:23 (First walk)
Finish Point - Various

Finish Time - 14:03 (Last walk)
Distance Walked - 0.65 miles
Height Ascended - 19.01metres

Other walks on this trip
02nd Leith Hill - Surrey Historic County Top
03rd Ditchling Beacon, East Sussex Historic County Top
05th Black Down, West Sussex Historic County Top
06th Betsoms Hill, Kent Historic County Top

Peaks visited
Nuttalls (254E - 444E&W)
Hewitts (138E - 317E)
Marilyns (158E - 1550E,W&S)
Botley Hill (62W - 116E,W&S)
Deweys (241E - 427EW&S)
HuMPs (364W - 2977EW&S)
Botley Hill (109E - 180E,W&S)
Historic County Top (49E - 63E&W 94E,W&S)
Betsoms Hill (28E - 32E&W -34E,W&S)
E: England. 
E,W&S:England,Wales & Scotland

Walks Description
Botley Hill
Botley Hill
Distance Walked 0.10miles, Height Ascended 3.65metres

The plan for the first of the days peaks was to park in the car park on Woldingham Road, but first I thought I would have a look at the parking near the junction to Botley Hill Water Tower. Turns out it is an adopted road following the route of The Vanguard Way. Well we have driven this far, might as well see how close we can get. In fact we got as far as the entrance to the water tower which may well be the highest point and could be claimed as this point.

However Gina was donning her water proofs, not wanting to stifle her enthusiasm and commitment did the same. Outside the van we could hardly see anything due to the mist but there was a metal tubular 5 bar gate on the SW compound giving access to a sheep field on the south. 4 minutes later (albeit covered in sheep pooh, for future reference watch where you are treading) we were back at the van after taking a photo from the SE corner in to the compound and the likely highest point. Days Marilyn and HuMP bagged.

Botley Hill (old GR)
Botley Hill (old GR)
Distance Walked 0.01miles, Height Ascended 0.68metres
By now I like to think Gina was well in to the days activities navigating the short distance round the corner from Botley Hill watching the blue circle move on the smartphone Anquet Mapping App.
"It's here" she suddenly says.
"We're on it".
But where is the trig point it should be on the road side this side of the fence on the left.
Not to be deterred and parking the van off the road I wander back with phone in hand until the blue circle is on the trig point. Still no sign of it, then there it was, hidden on the other side of the fence overgrown with dead summer foliage and holly. No obvious crossing point over the fence I satisfied myself with the bag by standing next to it 2m away on the other side and taking a photo with my mobile.

By now I was a bit damp as I had not bothered with waterproofs and Gina waited in the van. But we had found the peak and off to the next one. Except...
I had not logged it on my gps by turning on the track log. So out I get in the rain again, walk the 10 metres back down the road and this time with track log turned on.Finding myself in thick heather I was left with two choices; tend west and be sure of a complete circular route or head right to pick up the fence from earlier and pick up the derelict wall south of the 514m spot height. I chose the latter as the first option looked like it could take me too low and at least I knew the second option would return me to a half decent path along the wall.

This time after returning to the van we exchanged looks and set off for the next peak.
Botley Hill (boundary)
Botley Hill (boundary)
Distance Walked 0.13miles, Height Ascended 3.06metres
Same drill as Botley Hill (old GR) Gina the blue circle on the phone until we were next to the way point I had added from data, which stated the high point was in the all grounds of Beaver Zoological Gardens.
By now it was slinging it down with rain and this time Gina did not show any interest in putting on water proofs. So on my own, in waterproofs I disappear under a metal bar field entrance and wander round the Zoological Gardens boundary. After poking the camera through the hedge and taking photos near the boundary I returned to the van, soaked but dry, with the 3rd peak of the day claimed. Don't think I can give Gina this one though. Hope she is not too bothered. She didn't look bothered.

Betsoms Hill & Westerham Heights
Betsoms Hill
Distance Walked 0.65miles, Height Ascended 11.62metres
By the time we had arrived at the start point for Betsoms Hill opposite the lane to Little Betsom's Farm on the A223 it had stopped raining and the sky looked like it was brightening up for the first time all day.
A quickly planned short circular route was hatched to walk past fort cottages with Betsoms Hill on the left and after bagging the Kent county top would continue towards Little Betsoms Farm and return to the A223 at the side of Westerham Heights Farm opposite Westerham Heights London Borough and Kent Unitary Authority high point.
Even that plan was not completed. After only getting close to Betsoms Hill summit in a thicket on the west boundary of the old fort we returned to the A223 along the same route to sneak a picture through fort cottages gardens of the fort and high point. Back at the van all that was left was to walk north along the A223 to Westerham Heights Farm and pass over Westerham Heights top.

More Photographs
The North Downs opposite Westerham Heights Farm
Click on photograph to view slide-show