Our nine mile walk today turned out to be more interesting than expected. We met at the car park by Normandy Common on a cold, grey, damp day. As we set off there was light drizzle and the sound of small arms fire. Conditions did not bode well. However, the rain soon stopped, dark clouds cleared and by early afternoon there were a few patches of blue sky.
From the car park we (14) headed NE on a footpath which passed Hunts Hill Farm and Henleypark Farm and joined the Fox Way. We continued on the FW to Merrist Wood, where a flock of paraqueets flew past, then turned north on a footpath through Merrist Wood College. Here we passed a group of students with rabbits on leads; the rabbits were out for exercise we discovered on asking. Shortly after this we walked across a field where a black sheep ambled over to inspect us. It, a ram, sniffed round us for a few minutes before returning to its earlier position by a fence, the other side of which was a small group of white ewes.
Reaching the A322 we turned left and, at the roundabout (Fox Corner), turned left and took a byway NW across Pirbright Common to Pirbright where we stopped at The Cricketers for lunch.
After a pleasant hour in the pub we resumed the walk. Our leader took us to the local church where she pointed out the huge gravestone of Henry Morton Stanley. We paused after the church to look for the crocodile in the stream by the small bridge and, having eventually spotted it partially hidden by leaves, continued along the road to the next footpath on the left. As we crossed a field a solitary red kite flew by slowly directly overhead.
We came to a minor road, turned right, passed Pirbright Lodge and then continued on a footpath that went through woodland, past a field with 15 donkeys, through Oldfield Wood, round the east side of Henleypark Lake and ended by the A324. We turned right just before the road and walked alongside MoD land (the red flag was flying) to reach the footpath on the opposite side of the road that led back to the car park on the route we took in the morning.
Map: OS X 145