Originally, Pat and I had grandeur plans to do lots of out-of-London walks. We got a compass, bought a Timeout book of London walks from bookdepository.com and came armed with hats. But a train strike thwarted our plans and we settled for a truncated version of our grand walk.
We took a train to Hever Station, a good 40 minutes ride out of London. My plan was to take on the public footpath and enjoy the power of right of way through farms. Another couple from the same train did the same as us and we would later get to see them on and off at our various stops and eventually at Hever Station on our way back to London.
It was a refreshing experience walking on grassland and climbing over gates. I was thankful for the idea of folks opening up their land for public walking and is full of gratitude for these people who make UK so special.
Following the Timeout book was not a good experience because it was wordy with no maps. At the buttercup field, we lost our way just as many on Timeout did. Backtracking on waisthigh buttercups, we entered a kissing gate and passed a hole in the bushes made by the hundred who walked through before us.
Hever Castle in its full glory stood behind the gates, toilets and all. By now, the call of nature meant that it would be a visit to the gardens in the castle in order to use the amenities. Might as well, since the 10 km walk was thwarted by the strike and we could not go towards Goldaming.
Hever Castle was sprawling and well maintained. That is to be expected when the entrance was extorbitant. To maximize the cost, we ate, toured and picnicked on the grounds of the castle. I did not even cover the grounds, sprawled exhausted under a shady tree waiting for Pat to return with more photos round the corner. If he was disappointed with my lack of stamina , he was not showing.
Mid afternoon, we retraced our steps back to Hever Station, but not before we explored beyond the church grounds next door. Timeout proved useless and we were heading nowhere. No tired, we were in no mood to get lost. The rolling plains and beyond were overcast with dark clouds which we took as a sign to head back to London.
The walk back was easier this time and we made it in no time to the train station. It had turned cold suddenly and rain started pelting around the little waiting area on the abandoned platform. The same couple and us shared the space awkwardly until the train came.
Hope joined us for dinner and spent the night with us. By now, Pat and I were quite expert making our way around the Tesco at Tottenham Rd. Surely, eating in and buying groceries give a sense of control to our holidays as usual.