It was a glorious morning when we set off at 7:30 for the Border Path, the puppies and me. On the way to Marley Farm, where we intended to join the path, we passed a very jolly looking King Charles Spaniel and it’s owner. Heading west along the path we passed a few early morning joggers and push bike riders before coming to Lynchmere where we met the milkman. Poor bastard, working on a Bank Holiday!
At an intersection we crossed paths with a solitary Labrador who seemed to be taking himself for a walk – maybe he was getting the paper. He took absolutely no notice of either the girls or me. Maybe it was a ghost Labrador.
At some point we unwittingly left the Border Path – the sign was in bits and I took what I figured was the right path – I didn’t bother asking Carmen this time. It wasn’t until a few miles later when we spotted a council application nailed to a tree that we realised we were at Stanley Farm. The track we’d followed was lovely, though. Lots of trees to one side and open grazing land, variously populated with horses and cattle, on the other. Still, we needed to get back on course, so a quick trip up a side track had us back on the path.
At 9 we stopped for a break and the date and walnut slice I’d cooked last night and a cup of coffee. The girls had water and a bit of slice too. While we sat, a ranger drove by, waving cheerily. After about 10 minutes, the puppies started getting a bit toey (as they do) so we set off again. The woods were alive with birdsong and very few people. What a fantastic day for a walk.
After passing the Black Fox pub and Ripsley House, the path becomes narrow, squeezed in between ranks of nettles. We were in horse country – the horse trial grounds gave it away. We accidently came across Folly Pond and so had a lovely stop to phone Mirinda. Spotted a couple of grebes taking a float by the irises.
A lovely little railway bridge at Langley heralded a change of pace as we started a long haul along country lanes by Brewell’s Farm. We passed something called the White Eagle Temple which is not open for worship until 2.30 so we kept going. Although we didn’t see many cars, walking along lanes is always a bit stressful as you have to remain alert for crazy English drivers! Also the puppies hate it because they have to be on lead.
By the time we reached Rake we were ready for a break before the final push. So we stopped for a rest outside the Rake village hall. The puppies were very thirsty and gratefully finished off their water and I finished the date and walnut slice – actually we all did! Someone with a grader was having fun behind the hall.
We headed off for the Rake Hanger in order to get to the pub at the other side. For a change, we weren’t at the top but rather the bottom of a hanger. All very Tulgey Wood and fairy dell-ish. Before diving in to the woods, we were met by a lunatic Jack Russell called, originally, Jack and the lovely isolated Holly Cottage which would SO suit us.
Eventually civilisation called and we left the path and strode up to the B2070 and found a seat outside the Jolly Drover. I ordered a beer and the puppies had some more water. Very friendly staff and the barman made a fuss of the girls. I called Mirinda and she arrived to pick us up a little while later. The puppies were so tired they were almost unable to leap up onto her lap. Yeah right.