A Cold Misty Day on the North Downs Way

I wrapped myself up in three layers today and took off for the hills. My route today was one I know well–out to the outskirts of town, along the riverbank, and then up onto the North Downs Way to meander along the edge of the ridge through the woods until I cam down into Guildford fifteen miles later.

Much as I love exploring new places, there’s a special delight to a well-known path. This stretch of the North Downs Way was the first solo hike I ever did, and I’ve walked it many times since, both alone and in company. You build up your own mental map over time–not the landmarks recorded on maps or described in guidebooks, but ones made of memories–the fairy door, the knoll where we saw the adder, the bank where I saw a deer on the way home from work once.

It was a lovely day, and one of startling contrasts. In the shades, the frost never lifted but in places lay as thick as snow. Under the sunlight, the woods were golden. The usually soft paths were rock hard underfoot and the mist hung in dips.

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