To Aslan’s Mountain with a wisdom stick

Everything was perfect. The weather was sunny. I had the afternoon off. I had a bag of snacks and water. And I was ready for an adventure.

Off we went, Danda and I, in search of the highest point in South East England. It was quite easy going at first so we were tricked into thinking it might just be a gentle stroll. We each found a stick to use, to make us look like seasoned ramblers. I felt mine made me look quite wise. So we started referring to them as Wisdom Sticks.

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As we pottered along, admiring the views and how lovely the evening sun was, we came to an area where all the trees had been chopped down. It looked so out of place, in the middle of such dense forest, to have a field which had been cleared so abruptly. I remember thinking that I hope there was a valid reason for chopping down all those trees. On the other hand, some of the moss covered stumps made for beautiful photographs.

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We had barely left this empty field when we found ourselves in a tiny little hamlet called Friday Street. I’m not sure why it is named that but I bet there’s some interesting history behind so I’ll Google it later and let you know the story. Anyway, aside from its unusual name, this hamlet is significant for another reason. The Archbishop of Canterbury in the 1200s, a major influence in the drafting of the Magna Carta, was born here. His name was Stephan Langton and the first thing we came upon in Friday Street was a pub named after him.

Legend has it that he was involved with King John in various ways. Good old King John of the Silent Pool from last week’s post, Searching for Agatha. And he’s not any more likeable in the legends that connect him to Stephan Langton and Friday Street.

Stephan was living in Albury when he was 18 and had fallen in love with a girl called Alice, later to become the Abbess of St Catherine’s in Guildford. Stephan and Alice were walking along in the woods one day when they were attacked by King John and his followers. I think King John needs to have a long hard look at his behaviour and make up his mind to act like a king, rather than a career criminal. (Actually, this story is quite hard to marry with historical fact as King John was around 1 year old when this was said to have happened!) Anyway, the king kidnapped Alice – more kidnapping – and took her to his hunting lodge nearby. If Stephan had had a Wisdom Stick, he could have fought the king off. Just saying. Wisdom Sticks are useful.

Stephan followed, then set fire to the house. I’m told it was in an attempt to rescue Alice but he apparently buggered off without her when she fainted from the smoke.

The logical outcome from this series of events? Well, of course he ran off, became a monk and was chosen by the Pope to be Archbishop of Canterbury. Of course. King John refused to accept him as Archbishop, Rome got grumpy, France threatened to invade… It was all going downhill. Until Stephan stepped in and the Magna Carta made its appearance in 1215.

In the meantime, Alice became an Abbess (I can’t stop saying ‘absess’ in my head when I write that word). They were both at Mass in a church years later and were reunited. But she was apparently so overcome with emotion that she died in his arms. I’m sorry? She was so emotional when she saw him that she DIED!? She died of ’emotion’. I bet Stephan realised how rubbish she was then. I bet that’s why he left her in the house after he set fire to it.

Anyway, back to Friday Street. It was gorgeous. I could have been anywhere, the French Alps, an Italian lake, the Swiss Mountains. It was just so pretty and picturesque.

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We came across this little sign as we were leaving the village and I obviously got two jars.

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We also came across a sign for duck eggs and chicken eggs, £1.50 a box, which I would have loved, but there were none left. All in all, Friday Street was one of the highlights of the walk, so small and peaceful, the houses just like a bit of the countryside. They had a way of seeming like they belonged there just as much as the trees did. I did wonder where people get stuff from though, there were no shops at all.

After leaving Friday Street, the going got tougher. Steep inclines and sharp drops saw me making lots of ‘oo’ noises as I almost fell yet again. My Wisdom Stick was invaluable for this section of the walk. I started to get a bit breathless and requested a Chocolate Stop. To be honest, I’d been asking for a Chocolate Stop since we started and Danda hadn’t allowed me one, said I was being a greedy guts. I didn’t dispute this fact, but I still wanted a Chocolate Stop. This was our view during our stop. Beautiful.

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Next we started the climb to our main destination, Leith Tower. The hill is at 965 feet above sea level so the tower was apparently built because someone (I forget who) wanted to be 1000 feet above sea level. I couldn’t wait to get up there, climb the tower, look out, get some great pictures to show you all.

On our way we came unexpectedly across this beautiful waterfall….

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.. and stood marvelling at it for a while. As we turned to leave, there was a surreal from-a-film moment, when a load of flying ladybirds attacked us. I say ‘attacked’, they didn’t really. They were were just flying and they were near us. But it was bizarre, some did fly into us. I spent forever trying to get shots of bugs on flowers and finally got an ok one.

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Anyway, we kept on our way and got to the tower finally. Remember how excited I was to go up it? To see the view?….

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It seems the English countryside closes when Laura goes for a walk…. This happened last time in Shere, everything closed. Anyway, never mind. The views were still stunning.

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You can see sheets of rain coming down from the clouds on the left and a patch of sun breaking through to the right. It was amazing how far I could see. I felt a bit like Simba and Mufasa, you know the scene where Mufasa is like, “Everything you can see belongs to us. Everywhere the light touches.”

Talking of lions, the walk back to our start point was equally as beautiful. The hilltop feels so high up, I imagine this is what Aslan’s Mountain is like. If any of you have read the entire Chronicles of Narnia, you’ll know what I mean. The last book, The Last Battle, finishes on Aslan’s Mountain, and Prince Caspian, the fourth book, starts on Aslan’s Mountain. In my mind, it’s like this.

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After standing around, imagining I was in Narnia for a while, we wandered back to the start point to finish the walk, where I gave my Wisdom Stick back to nature…

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…and said an emotional goodbye to it. Not emotional enough to die, mind you.

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18 responses to this post.

  1. Gorgeous pics!

    Reply

  2. An epic walk, fabulous pictures, have you been to Runymead where the Mana Carta was signed, there’s also some interesting walks around there too.

    Reply

    • No, I haven’t. What a brilliant idea. I’ll try to get that into a walk sometime over the summer. It’s not that far away, it’s in the way to Windsor isn’t it? Have you been there? I used to cycle to Windsor a lot but don’t remember if I went through Runnymede.

      Reply

  3. great post. lovely pictures 🙂

    and you seriously had me laughing… “I bet that’s why he left her in the house after he set fire to it.” ladies like them give us a bad name!

    also, mariah carey: “you’ve got me feeling emotions / deeper than I’ve ever dreamed of.” I mean.. what emotions? love? hate? gladness? anger? I get angry when I hear that song, for sure.

    Reply

    • Thanks. Good point about Mariah. What on earth is she talking about? “You got me feelin’ e-mo-tiooons!” That doesn’t mean anything! Which emotions? All of them? Just a few? I hope she doesn’t die of them or we’ll never get an answer to our questions

      Reply

  4. Posted by pamasaurus on July 20, 2012 at 18:25

    Wow, such amazing photos! I’d love to go on that adventure myself! Glad you had a fun time!

    Reply

    • Thanks. Yeh, it was pretty stunning. And not too far from where I live. I just went in the afternoon after work. It’s amazing the things you can find right on your doorstep if you dig around a bit. I’ve got some good walking books and lots of friends who know the area well who tell me nice places they’ve been.

      Reply

  5. Would have loved to have gone with you.

    Reply

  6. Posted by Alex Jones on July 21, 2012 at 13:31

    What a wonderful adventure 🙂

    Reply

  7. I LOVE the photos and commentary. I felt like I was right there.

    Reply

    • I’m really glad you liked it! I’m going to try and do one every week because it was so amazing. You should try it too, just jump on a train to somewhere quiet and start walking 🙂

      Reply

  8. […] 27.7.12 – I came, I saw, I passed – “After work, I pottered off home….” 20.7.12 – To Aslan’s Mountain with a wisdom stick – “As we pottered along, admiring the views….” 13.7.12 – Searching For Agatha – […]

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