▷ A Woldingham walk

Although Woldingham Station is only one stop from zone 6, as members of the Longer Walks Group emerged from the platform, the landscape immediately suggested the Downs rather than London. This feeling was confirmed as we reached Woldingham Golf Club and headed

north east along a dry chalk valley to join the Vanguard Way, a 66 mile route from Croydon to the Sussex Coast at Newhaven. We were now heading south and tackling our first climb, following a broad bridle track that ended at the wireless station atop the North Downs at 260 metres above sea level. We didn’t stay at this height for long though, as at Flint House we dropped steeply down the south facing chalk escarpment to reach our old friend the North Downs Way just north of Oxted. We now turned to face west and followed the NDW along the base of the chalk, with the sound of the M25 our constant companion. Our respite was brief, as it was soon time to return to the crest of the Downs taking advantage of a flight of 109 wooden steps to reach the crest of the Downs again. Our route now continued along the edge of chalk brridge, where we were treated to superb views of the

Greensand Ridge and the Weald, which were away to our south. Our route now crossed Gangers Hill before descending Tandridge Hill only to climb once more to our lunch stop above Flinthall Farm.
After lunch we continued to head west passing a large area of grape vines laid out along the south facing slope of the Downs, before reaching Winders Hill and climbing another flight of steps (67 this time) to emerge at the somewhat scarily named Devil’s Hole. We now walked across farmland heading for Tillingsdown Farm where we found a gated community of modern houses had sprung up seemingly in the middle of nowhere. After crossing another dry valley, and a steep descent to Marden Park Farm, the group refused to countenance the proffered short cut back to the station, opting instead for one final climb as we headed south towards Woldingham School and then east into Great Church Wood. A gentle descent through the trees led to a broad track which took us back to the station.
As one of the group said ‘definitely challenging, but so enjoyable’.