Wednesday, 4 March 2015

North Downs (East)

Yes I know it is only 10 days since getting back from Scotland but it is also 11 days since the last hill, Normanby Wold Top.
Focus of attention today are the 5 most easterly HuMPs of the North Downs as part of sampling peak bagging/hill walking closer to home.
5 HuMPs including 1 Marilyn in just under 30 hours away from home; 1 overnight stop, 5 walks, 310 miles driving, 7 miles walking, 250m of ascent. Until today I used hill walking and peak bagging interchangeably. Not any more, today was clearly peak bagging and with just 250m of ascent across all 5 walks could hardly be described as hill walking. Simply driving between car parks closest to the peak in question followed by a short walk and wander around a flat piece of ground within the highest contour circle looking for some unmarked summit.
Pretty pointless? Definitely NO, but to me not as enjoyable or satisfying as say walking for 3 hours or more to reach what is obviously the highest point for miles around. To that end I can definitely describe myself as a hill walker, but there is nothing quite like using a summit as a catalyst to go to a particular part of the country, nor anything like the satisfaction of reaching that summit overcoming obstacles, be they personal, physical or just down right hard work.
Would I go peak bagging again without any hill walking? Definitely YES, but maybe not try to fit in so many hills so far apart in one day.
Even without the long walks today I still drove through some wonderful English countryside, passed through places I would like to return later, not to mention becoming aware and arousing interest in modern military architecture in the form of The London Defence Scheme and even more recently World War II pill boxes, in a line along the North Downs ridge, as London's last line of defence against invaders who were a real threat only just over 10 years before my birth.
Most satisfyingly there was - as for hill walking, the element of setting an objective, planning to achieve said objective then getting on and just doing what you set out to do.
Five short seperate walks to all five hills described below:-
  • Reigate Hill
  • Dunley Hill
  • Toy's Hill
  • Detling Hill [North Downs]
  • Wrotham Hill
In all honesty do not feel this is the best way to visit all these hills. In retrospect would have liked to have included them as part a North Downs Way through hike. Having recognised the distinction between peak bagging and hill walking reckon hill walking is my real passion, with associated need for fitness and endurance, but with the focus of bagging one or more hills on the same walk.

Reigate Hill
Magazine and Tool Store from Riegate Hill ramparts
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Parked in Wray Lane car park and short walk across footbridge over A217 along North Downs Way to spot height and beyond. As is often the case found something more interesting than the summit itself. Reigate Fort, part of the 19th century London Defence Scheme, a line of forts to protect London from an invasion from the south.
Walk Statistics
Walk Date - 03 March 2014
Walkers - Steve Smith, 

Accommodation - Alderstead Heath Caravan Club Site
Start Point - Gatton car park (TQ 26312 52324
Start Time - 16:22
Finish Point 
Gatton car park (TQ 26312 52324)
Finish Time - 17:04
Duration - 0hrs 42mins 
Average pace - 1.81mph
Distance Walked - 1.27 miles
Height Ascended - 41.46metres

Dunley Hill
The North Downs. London's last line of defence against WWII invaders
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Decided to start walk from White Down car park to save some time.
Distracted by a lone dog I was considering the merits of peak bagging & hill walking. Until today I considered them to be one of the same thing. They are not, today is definitely peak bagging, and I am asking myself which I prefer.
But first I have this lone dog to follow with the thought it may be leading me to an owner in distress. Very soon however with it's random sprints sometimes ahead and often behind I start to wonder who is following who? So I head for Dunley Wood trig point near Dunley Wood Reservoir. Lone dog waited patiently whilst I carried out logging and photo activities then followed me to Old Simm's Copse looking for Dunley Hill summit inside the 220m contour ring.
There is not one, just saplings and trees and dried leaves littering the ground. I did find a rotten tree stump that looked like a cairn and it was at this point of excitement I heard a voice and lone dogs ears prick up, then disappeared without even a glance back as he headed to his owner.
With the anti-climax of no summit, it seemed the trig point was the highlight of the walk, so in search of something better I headed south in search of the North Downs Way. Certainly there were excellent views and although only stayed on it for ¾ mile before turning left up Raikes Lane to the car park I did pass two derelict pill boxes and it did cross my mind that maybe one day I may persuade Gina to walk the North Downs Way with me. But then I think that every time I am on a long distance path, so for now I have just added it to my list. But it would certainly be more suited to our walking companion Joss who has walked the Great Glen Way with us but is terrified of heights.
Walk Statistics
Walk Date - 04 March 2014
Walkers - Steve Smith, 

Accommodation - Alderstead Heath Caravan Club Site
Start Point - White Down car park (
TQ 11453 49455)
Start Time - 11:01
Finish Point 
White Down car park (TQ 11453 49455)
Finish Time - 11:59
Duration - 0hrs 58mins
Average pace - 2.76mph
Distance Walked - 2.67 miles
Height Ascended - 162.56metres

Toy's Hill
Possible highest point behind NT Bat Tower  in woods
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The hill of this peak bagging excursion without a recognisable summit. Came across likely candidate behind the NT Bat Tower. Then wandered sufficiently within the 240 contour ringand think highest point was near junction of 3 paths at TQ 46870 51940, but visited several other mounds/tree stumps just to be sure.
Walk Statistics
Walk Date - 04 March 2014
Walkers - Steve Smith, 

Accommodation - Alderstead Heath Caravan Club Site
Start Point - Toy's Hill car park (
TQ 46933 51660)
Start Time - 13:59
Finish Point 
Toy's Hill car park (TQ 46933 51660)
Finish Time - 14:46
Duration - 0hrs 47mins 
Average pace - 1.60mph
Distance Walked - 1.25 miles
Height Ascended - 22.70metres

Detling Hill [North Downs]
Thurnham Court Estate trig point near Detling Hill summit
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Fourth hill of four hills with non distinctive summit but this time was the highlight of distinctive painted trig point emblazoned with Kent county emblem on all 4 sides. Expected to park in White Horse Wood Country Park car park but Castle Hill from Thurnham is now blocked just before reaching car park. Probably done when car park was built. Access to car park is from the A249. Highest point is said to be at junction of three paths but looked like ground was slightly higher to the north and also wandered west along path just to be sure. Had planned to visit remains of Thurnham Castle which would have involved walking another stretch of the North Downs Way. Decided not to as was getting short of daylight and still wanted to visit Wrotham Hill before driving home.
Walk Statistics
Walk Date - 04 March 2014
Walkers - Steve Smith, 

Accommodation - Alderstead Heath Caravan Club Site
Start Point - Castle Hill road end (
TQ 80885 58518)
Start Time - 16:04
Finish Point 
Castle Hill road end (TQ 80885 58518)
Finish Time - 16:30
Duration - 0hrs 26mins 
Average pace - 1.92mph
Distance Walked - 0.83 miles
Height Ascended - 10.34metres

Wrotham Hill
Wrotham Hill. The 4th and final HuMP of a day peakbagging
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Fourth and final HuMP of the day. Parked in lay by on west bound side of Exedown Road. Layby nearest field already occupied, possibly another bagger? Well by the time I got my boots on and locked up the van the car had gone so never got a chance to ask, but if he was a bagger he did not log his ascent on hill-bagging.
Anyway climbed over gate near layby and walked around eastern side of field to trig point. Spent a bit of time photographing trig point silhouette  against rapidly setting sun.
Then rather than just retracing steps back along the way I came, continued round field coming out at gate near reservoir, making a circular route to give some semblance of a proper walk. Can't help think that more walking should be involved. Have managed to walk along, cross or drive near North Downs Way for each of the days HuMPs so possibly could have included these peaks as part of a National Trail walk. But in all honesty if I am going to get anywhere near all 444 English HuMPs (116 visited so far) I am sure there will be a few more days like today.
Walk Statistics
Walk Date - 04 March 2014
Walkers - Steve Smith, 

Accommodation - Alderstead Heath Caravan Club Site
Start Point - Layby west bound side of Exedown Road (
TQ 58947 60000)
Start Time - 17:12
Finish Point 
Layby west bound side of Exedown Road (TQ 58947 60000)
Finish Time - 17:34
Duration - 0hrs 422mins 
Average pace - 2.15mph
Distance Walked - 0.79 miles
Height Ascended - 17.60metres