Sunday, November 20

Autumn woodland beauty

I've been itching to get out for a good autumn woodland walk for ages, and last Friday the planets were all in the right aspect as my friend Gareth and I set out for an 8-mile leg-stretch in the Surrey countryside.

The weather met the expectations of the forecast (dry, sunny with cloudy spells); the trains were all running well; we both managed to get out of bed on time and make it to Waterloo station at 10am, and any physical niggles were put aside for a day.

We're not normally so well-organised, but I think it was a sign of how determined I was to get my woodland fix that by Wednesday I'd already picked out a walk (from the copious range published by Southwest Trains which are perfect because they all start from railway stations) and by 10.15 we were on our way to Godalming.

The walk did not disappoint; probably about 95% of it was through woodlands on footpaths ankle deep in crunchy beech, oak and chestnut leaves. The changing light as the canopy opened up or closed in, the colours of the beech leaves still on the trees, which ranged from bright yellow through orange to brown, and the huge ancient trunks around us were memorable.

The woods were awash with fungi, if only we'd had an expert with us we could perhaps have come home with a basketful for dinner.

The walk has the benefit of Winkworth Arboretum halfway round; the teashop supplied soup, sandwiches, cake and tea and it was warm enough to sit outside at the picnic tables. The walk goes right through the grounds on a public footpath, so you get to see the boathouse and lake as you pass by.

Gareth has some lovely pictures here.

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