Day 10 – Haywards Heath to Coulsdon

by Stephen


My route again had been direct along busy roads. It has required a lot of concentration to dodge the traffic and flooded areas from last nights heavy rain and thunderstorms. That said the weather has again been fantastic.

I have passed some beautiful Sussex and Surrey villages. I am however at the stage where I have my head down, gritted teeth with the sole aim of reaching my destination in one piece.

It has taken a few fantastic people I have met to snap me back to my reason for walking.

I passed through Turners Hill and stopped at the temporary memorial the village had constructed for Remembrance Day. It was a lovely tribute. I thought I’d pop into the local shop for fuel. The owner of Central Stores, Mrs Keshavji took a great deal of interest in my walk. She was extremely kind and offered me more food and drink should I wish to take it. She understood the reason for my journey was purely commemorative but made a donation to the Royal British Legion anyhow. She then promptly called the journalist at the local paper and told him my story. A quick interview with him about my journey through Turners Hill and I was back on my way. Thank you to Mrs Keshavji for paying so much interest and further promoting my cause.

My route was aptly dotted with large poppies which had been attached to lamp posts. The names of men who had died appeared on each. I read a number of the names and I thought it a great idea to keep them alive in the memories of those passing.

My walk was long and slow but never before has the drone of the M25 made me so happy. If you are planning to go from Paris to London watch out for the bloody hill just after the motorway. It’s a killer. Coming down it I was passed by Gary and his son Matthew in a van. They stopped to let traffic pass and he wound down the window to ask what I was doing. He said ‘good on you’ and continued down the hill. The support I needed to get me to the top. Gary then drove back past, tooted and pulled in to talk. He took a photo of me with Matthew and told me about his Grandfather and father. His Grandfather was in the First World War and his father in the the second. His father was a royal marine who survived the sinking of HMS Hood ( ) purely by circumstance. It was a pleasure to talk Gary and I hope your son tells those stories in the future.

It’s these accounts that I am keen to hear. Before starting this journey I knew very little about the war(s). My walking is very personal and is an opportunity for me to increase my knowledge from listening to others.

On my way into Coulsdon, at school kicking out time, I passed some secondary school kids sitting next to the war memorial. They shouted out to me ‘Oi mate you look like Christopher Columbus, have you just come back from the jungle’. Maybe we need to do more to keep history and its lessons alive in the next generation; I certainly could have done with it at that age.