Midsummer was celebrated by Mole Valley Ramblers taking off for the South Downs by coach on a brilliantly sunny day, full of energy and optimism.
Supported by packed lunches, endless water and a consignment of sun screen, 46 walkers divided up to participate in either a 7 mile walk to Uppark, the National Trust property, or a 9 mile walk to the lesser known, but no less fascinating, Stansted House. Most walkers were focused on a cream tea as a great reward for a day of walking.
But when is midsummer? Most would say the longest day is the summer solstice, usually 21st June when the rituals at Stonehenge took place this year. But it can be 20th or 22nd depending upon time zone of a country and according to shifts in Gregorian calendar.
Pagans have welcomed this festival for thousands of years, especially in northern European countries where greeting the warmer weather was so important after a long, dark winter. Celebrations sometimes began as early as midsummers eve, or dates between 21st-25th June according to individual countries. In the UK Christianity adopted 24th June as Midsummer's Day, being the feast day of St John the Baptist.
It is hoped that pagans and Christians were both satisfied by Mole Valley Ramblers choosing 24th June as the appropriate date for their summer outing!