The 14th to 18th May 2012 is Walk to Work Week in the UK and although I would love to walk all the way to work it would probably take me six or seven hours so that is not really practical. However I did my bit this morning by getting off the train one station early and walking the last bit.
I have to admit that this a route I regularly take when the weather is good and time permits. It is not a particularly long walk (only about 1¼ miles) and not particularly exciting or picturesque, but on a bright sunny day like this morning it a great way to start the day.
To me there is something a bit strange about starting a walk in Gatwick Airport, it is a great place to start a journey, but few people will be making that journey on foot like me. Getting out of the airport building can be a bit challenging if you are not sure where you are going.
I have to admit that descending the unmarked stairs at shuttle terminal always makes me feel a little uneasy, it feels a little like I am going behind the scenes, perhaps somewhere I shouldn’t be going. As passengers wait for the shuttle above I emerge out into a world of concrete and car parks as the shuttle rumbles overhead.
Amongst the concrete however there is one rather unexpected glimpse of nature, a stream carefully funnelled through the grounds of the airport, surprisingly clean although that may just be an indication that a large volume of water has passed through here in the last few weeks, washing any accumulation of rubbish further downstream.
To the mix of concrete and car parks you can also add chain link. For about a third of a mile the path is enclosed by two tall chain link fences. To the west the car parks, to the east the railway line. Surprisingly this path is part of the Sussex Border Path, probably its least glamorous section, but for those tracing the Sussex border relief from the concrete and chain link is not far away across the other side of the railway.
For those with an interest in boundaries, passing under the bridge carrying the A23 over the railway line takes you from the county of West Sussex and into Surrey. Not surprisingly there are no signs marking this transition, only lines on a map, however hardly a day goes past without me noticing the crossing.
The end of the chain link fences marks a watershed, those following the border path head east over the railway footbridge. Those like me heading for Horley turn east and then north and chain link is replaced by wooden garden fences and residential streets. In the far distance, on a clear day, one gets a glimpse of the North Downs in the gaps between the houses, but really the only interest now is the contents of people’s recycling baskets along the side of the pavement.
Above the pavements however there is something else which catches my eye, an unlikely point of interest among these residential streets. A simple but for some reason unexpectedly pleasing wooden finial upon the top of a telegraph pole. This example was not unique, I counted three today, but they must count as a rarity these days.