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This Week's Walks - Archive

Please see the Saturday Walker's Club This Week's Walks page.

This is an archive of walks done by the Saturday Walker's Club. You should only need to use this page if the SWC website is down.

Blog Archive

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Saturday Second Walk - The Greensand Ridge just south of London

SWC Walk 148 - Earlswood to Oxted
Length: 16.8km (10.4 miles) or 14km (8.7 miles)
Toughness: 4 out 10: gently undulating

9.57 train from London Bridge (10.16 East Croydon) to Earlswood, arriving 10.38

** For later start see SHORTER WALK below

Buy a day return to "Edenbridge Stations". Technically this does not cover one stop between Redhill and Earlswood, but it would be a picky ticket inspector that objected, as Edenbridge is further away from London than Earlswood. You can also use Oyster or contactless payment to travel to Earlswood now (even though it is outside zone 6), but I don't see how this helps, as you then have to buy a return ticket from Oxted anyway, and of course you DON'T get the Network Card discount).

There is some ongoing industrial action on Southern services involving staff reporting sick in protest against plans for more driverless services (see comment). This has led to train cancellations, but as far as I can see these are centred on Gatwick and Brighton services. In the event that the above train is cancelled, meet outside Caffe Nero on the London Bridge concourse. Options include taking the 10.27, if that runs, possibly doing the shorter start: see below. Hopefully this won't be an issue at all, however.

For walk directions click here.

This walk has only had one outing so far with the SWC and that was on August bank holiday weekend last year when many of you might have been away. I actually researched it at exactly this time last year, however, and then there was a immense field of buttercups mid-afternoon (after the Barley Mow pub) as well as good displays just after the start at Earlswood.

Otherwise this is a pleasant and varied walk along a very gentle section of the Greensand Way. There is some woodland, some fields, a few hills but nothing too taxing, and lots and lots of views. At one point you pass under the M23 and this creates noise either before or after the crossing, depending on wind direction, but only for a short period.

There are lots of pubs. The wonderful Red Lion in Bletchingley is the recommended lunch choice and accommodated us without complaint last time, but if it is full, the Whyte Hart is just a short way down the road. Alternatively the Barley Mow mid afternoon serves food all afternoon. The Haycutter near the end (not tried) has a large garden for near-the-end-of-walk-drinks if the weather is fine. If all these have not distracted and delayed you, there is the usual panoply of tea options in Oxted - see the walk document.

Trains back from Oxted are at 19 past to London Bridge (taking 35 minutes) and 24 and 54 past to Victoria (taking 40 minutes)


There is a very nice alternative start to this walk from Nutfield station. To do this take the 10.39 train from Victoria to Nutfield, arriving 11.14. Or take the 10.27 from London Bridge to East Croydon, arriving 10.45 to pick up the same train at 10.56.

Again the ticket is a day return to Edenbridge Stations. It is just 3.4km (2.1 miles) to Bletchingley by this route and you will probably get to the pub pretty much at the same time as the main walk group.


Walker said...

The dispute on Southern services centres on Southern's desire to change the role of guards on some services. At present, guards close the doors, though drivers open them. Southern's position is that on some services - eg the Gatwick Express, which does not have intermediate stops and where there are always platform staff dispatching trains - the guard is not needed. On some other trains, Southern plans to reduce guards to "On Board Supervisors" - ie not operating the doors, but checking tickets, issuing tickets, dealing with queries and disabled passengers. However, they say there will be no compulsory redundancies, just that future staff will be hired to the new roles.

The RMT unions see this as threatening jobs and safety. In particular they point to incidents on driver only operated trains where passengers were trapped in the doors and the driver drove off. They also (probably correctly) see this as a backdoor to having more driver only operations. Once a guard is no longer essential for the operation of the train, then it will be easier to remove them from services at short notice. (It also means that a guard being unavailable will not necessarily cause the service to be cancelled, as is the case at present). It is worth noting that driver-only operation does already take place on some very busy routes, such as some Thameslink services, as well as on the Underground, of course. (On Underground trains, however, the doors are very sensitive to obstruction, so the train cannot move with a bag stuck in the door, let alone a body part. This is NOT true of mainline trains with automatic doors.)

A back story here is that the Southern-Thameslink-Gatwick Express-Great Northern mega franchise, currently held by Govia (who also have the Southeastern franchise, incidentally) is something of a special case. Because of disruption to Thameslink services due to the London Bridge upgrades, it is not a proper franchise at all, but a kind of management contract, where Southern run the trains for the government for a fixed fee, and the government get the profits or otherwise from revenue fluctuations. Why this matters is that previously rail operators have been afraid of having long confrontations with unions for fear of losing profits. In this case Govia lose no profit. The suspicion is that they have been privately egged on by the government to take on the RMT over working practices. Or perhaps this is just a conspiracy theory?

Steve Bird said...

Is the Haycutter open?
I passed there on a recce for Hampstead Ramblers a few weeks ago and it was closed awaiting building work after changing hands. I had lunch in Old Oxted instead.

Walker said...

Sounds like the Haycutter is not open, then.

For the info of other walkers, this is no biggie. It was just a possible pub stop 1 mile before the end of the walk. Other options in Oxted, or, for afternoon drinks, earlier at the Barley Mow. I have checked the websites of all the three other pubs and they all seem to be in normal operation

Thomas G said...

...on the 'taking a sickie'-issue at Southern Trains...
I chatted to a guard on the Uckfield line today, and he said "it's only the guys from Barnham, Brighton and Eastbourne depots doing this, there's no issues with us from the Selhurst depot" (and all others, presumably...).

Anonymous said...

Shortcut still blocked 03 June 16

Walker said...

N=27 on this walk, 23 on the specified train, 3 on the short start and 1 late starter who caught us mid afternoon. The weather was w=warm-but-cloudy-with-some-sun-in-the-afternoon. A pleasant walk, some nice views, good buttercups. Surprise was expressed at there being such nice countryside so close to London. We survived the dark tunnel under the M23 and found the lunch pub in Bletchingley not too busy and very speedy at producing meals. Most had a mid afternoon drink stop In the Barley Mow and the pub by Oxted station was a popular place to finish up (it even did cream teas).