The North Downs Way by Richard Jackson

Once it was agreed that indeed the North Downs Way was going to be the challenge,
I knew in my heart of hearts it was going to be tough….and after walking The South Downs Way
100 miles in 4 days that extra mileage would be so so hard.

What we never expected was the relentless ups and downs, the steep slippery slopes,
the winding climbs to the top, the slow gruelling descent’s into the valleys.
The forests of mud which slow your pace down from 2.9 miles per hour to sometimes as low
as 1 miles per hour.
This keeps you out for longer, as a quick map check makes you realise you still have
8 miles left and its 5 o clock 3 long hours left to go, was a real ball breaker but with
such fine men around the humour started pouring out the laughter started and as we moved off
forgetting what lay ahead each man slowly slipping into single file head down lost in their
own thoughts…..maybe their loved ones, a song, a favourite movie or for Miller chocolate.

Day 1

Anxious, excited, even a little dread to what lay ahead as this was no walk in the park.
The drive there made us realise we were going to have to walk all the way back and more.
With all smiles we prepared ourselves checking kit etc and then made the first step.
Someone once said every great journey starts with a single step.
We started on the wrong road for 100 yards and had to go back ha !!
We soon became aware the signs can be very confusing if not damn right wrong.
Some missing removed by some idiot who thought it might be funny sending many people
in the wrong direction.
By having the maps compass & GPS we were lucky only a few minor detours.
Finally we made it to our first stop the charming Surrey Village of West Humble.
After asking a few souls it weirdly turned out that no one knew of the Fairdene B & B
Turned out they was in fact not in West Humble at all but Dorking !!!
This crap happened again !! resulting in having to get a taxi to one of them.
The B & B was indeed rubbish with 1970’s rooms and bed sheets
a television the size of your hand and a room colder than the arctic circle.

Day 2

Breakfast was cold with nothing cooked….Its was fill the water bladders up and go.
My feet telling me not another day like yesterday please Mr Jackson.
Before long we were back on the Downs. Heads down and heading towards our next
stop.
Today was the big one a 30 miler
As we crested Box Hill and dived into the woods a lonely Police Man was standing on the
track in a large luminous green jacket with Police tape around a few trees.
On questioned as to why he replied ” I can’t really tell you much but human remains have been found
down there by an off duty Met Police Officer last night about 10.30pm”.
The miles seemed to last for ever…..each one seemed to go on and on.
The rain came fast a furious to make sure we suffered plenty that day.
We passed so many lovely house’s on the way till after nearly 14 hours
we arrived Otford.
After calling the B & B it turned out that in fact they were in Kensing up the road !!
We I quizzed the owner on this she replied ” my back gardens in Otford”?
Although UP The Downs was a nice place to stay with owner dropping us off
at the pub.

DAY 3

Breakfast early again was much better, a cooked one and very good.
Then it was bladders full into a taxi back to where we left off.
Once again the rain came which we could have done without.
My body was really struggling today I found that my feet would not stop hurting.
So several pain killers later I was on my way again.
Lunch again was the same a self heating ration pack which as always was
rather nice.
Everyone tucking in for the energy the food will provide.
Then a quick map check and back on the trail once more.
This time we all pulled out headphones except Ian Smith who didn’t bring any
to somehow take ourselves away from the constant mile after mile after mile.
Once again we arrive at our next stop the Styles House B&B in Boxley.
This time yet again there was only enough hot water for two baths !!!!!
Yes that’s right Ian Stephens and Steve Miller had to go without !!
If any of you reading this have a B&B and you can have 8 guests
but can only provide hot water for two guests I suggest you have a combination boiler
fitted. Breakfast was ok and it was back to the trail once more.

DAY 4

This for me was by far the hardest. It was up and down many hills as we marched through some
delightful Kent villages Detling and Hollingbourne which had a great pub called the The Dirty Habit
nice play of words there. We stopped here for lunch and allowed our feet a chance to feel the fresh
air as we all chose to get flip flops on.
Lunch here was lovely as we all enjoyed a marvellous meal consisting of various sandwiches washed down with
a diet coke then boots on and off we go.
Again the hills were tough, we seemed to descend deep into a valley go along 100 yards then all the way
back up again.
By now my body had had enough my right shin was very sore and both little toes were blistered so bad.
I stopped and strapped my feet up again and put plasters round me little toes.
But later on we arrived at our last B&B. The Mulberry in Wye.
Now this was a treat a 15 century house with bags of charm and a great owner called Angela.
We had ample hot water and good rooms with comfy beds.
With a great breakfast cooked to perfection.
Angela even made a £30 donation which was a lovely gesture.

Day 5

I struggled to get my boots on, as my feet had swollen and my little toes were very sore.
I took four pain killers that morning hoping this would do the trick but they didn’t.
A left knee ache started to become worse by 10 o clock which was from a injury I sustained as a young lad garden hopping. This was to become a real burden as every single step was pain. The miles dragged on as we climbed once more over Tolsford Hill
through the Military training areas I played on as a young army cadet whilst staying at St Martins plain
camp. Over the back on the Channel Tunnel Terminal which looked like a massive train set from high
above.
The views from the top were stunning as we walked over the white cliffs leaving Folkestone behind and headed
for Dover.
We stopped on a WW11 bunker system to have our lunch. Our last self heating ration, a quick rest
then off again this time all the way to the Dover

END

May I take this opportunity to thank each and everyone of you who made a donation, your messages
and wishes helped us on.

And the guys who shared this adventure with me

Ian Smith, Ian Stephens and Stephen Miller

Thank you

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