Friday, December 08, 2023

A group ride to Christmas Lunch - Wed 13th Dec


Ride to our annual Christmas lunch at the The Angel.

We meet at GIRO ESHER (Claygate Day Centre is closed) before a short ride of  ride is 22 miles, with one off-road section across Bookham Common (1mile). NOTE the course below picks up the route at the junction on Esher High Street.

Please let me know if you're coming on our ride - we have Ged and Dave V sub leading and the plan is to arrive at the pub no later than 12:30. 

This is our route:

If you're not coming on the ride, please try to get to the pub around 12:30.

Email by 6pm Monday 11th December so I can allocate timing and groups depending on numbers. 🎄

~ Frances

Report for "A" ride to Holmbury


Dave Ferret writes .. 

My group comprised Steve D, Mark, Peter S and Ged (a late substitute for both  Francis and Neil C) and according to Neil W, allocated to my group on the basis that they didn’t mind a slower pace. "A group" numbers were low this week, with many who have been riding quite often with us understandably opting for the B group Xmas lunch. A wise choice perhaps. We were first away around 10:40 and, in the absence of Dave V, leaving Tim C to present the traditional Christmas chockies to Dave and Noreen at the RBL who look after us so well on behalf of all of us.
Neil’s ride followed Clive’s example two weeks ago of a shorter but very challenging ride to keep us fit in the run up to Christmas. A very chilly misty morning  with permanently  steamed up glasses made for an unpleasant start, but gradually clearing and warming after ascending Critten Lane, the first of many ascents! The sun finally broke through by the top of Leith Hill and after walking through the heavily fortified downhill road closure via the inclined bramble verge, a final morning grind up to a very good early lunch at the Royal Oak.

After grabbing our drinks and placing our orders we were shortly joined by Neils group and it was a pleasant change to share a large long table as one group for lunch. Service was swift giving us time for a coffee boost before the pm leg. 

Neil had offered a slight shortcut on the return leg in case conditions were treacherous, but my group unanimously opted for the Full Monty. So we enjoyed some very scenic, sunny, narrow, muddy, lumpy lanes via Friday St and Sheephouse which kept us warm before the final cruise back to Leatherhead. The only negative was on Sheephouse Lane, where we experienced a Close Encounter of the inconsiderate motorist kind, the second on that segment in 2 rides. 
My thanks to my sub group for a very enjoyable ride and to Neil for arranging a good lunch stop and another very suitable winter ride enabling most to get back home in the daylight.

I called this ride the '2023 Farewell to the North Downs' and it lived up to this name better than I hoped. The weather forecast for Wednesday had been erratic for the preceding week, which may have put some of the usual riders off. On the day it was 1C at Cobham, and misty.

The forecast was for sun from 1pm. Climbing Critten I suppose we were emerging from the mist because the sun was shafting thru the trees. My specs were still misted up so I had to take it slow on the main down section of the Critten climb, Janice remarked it was on the only time she's ever had to brake following me downhill. At the top we were in bright sunshine, Dave B. left us here for other commitments. Down Whitedown, and up the other side to Abinger, we pulled over for a vehicle, I mentioned about EM Forster living and writing in Abinger, Mike R. impressed us listing his books, and even more so that he had read several. Just after the Abinger Hatch pub is Donkey Lane, I offered the option of riding it on the way back. The moderate gradient went on and on up Leith Hill, more great views, then down continuing south where we had road work obstacles. We followed Ockley Road then right up Holmbury Lane for a gentle climb to Holmbury. As we reached the start of Holmbury I related that what is now the Mullard Space Science Centre, a mile east of Holbury, was built by architect George Street in the 1870s. When he and his wife first visited Holbury she declared it to be "Heaven's Gate. [ Correction, the house that George built is at the far end of Holmbury Hill Road, now part of Hurtwood House). Certainly Holmbury is a pretty village, it is thought to have inspired EM Forster for his fictional perfect English village named 'Summer Street' in A Room with a View. The pub and lunch were excellent. Holmbury is a super place for a circular walk of the surrounding hills, capped off by a meal and drinks at the pub. 

The return started with a gentle downhill section then a bit more climbing to Abinger, with the choice, Donkey Lane, Yay or Neigh? We took the easier alternative way to the LOTR scenes of Friday Street. The last stretch to Leatherhead was straightforward, the air was clear and we had great views of the North Downs stretching to the distance. At Leatherhead, farewell to Fiona, after checking a few possible cafe's we settled on Janice's choice of Charlie & Ginger, the remainers Pat, me, Janice and Mike enjoyed the cafe's fare, pricey but very good. 

Thanks everyone for turning up, Dave F. for sub-leading and Fiona for back-marking.             

Wednesday, December 06, 2023

Report for B Group - 6th December

B Group Christmas lunch - Special Edition

27 riders gathered for coffee and mince pies at the Royal British Legion Cobham for our ride out to Christmas lunch. Tim gave our thanks and presented chocolates to the lovely volunteers, David and Noreen, who always make us so welcome.

Three groups set off from Cobham on an appetite encouraging jaunt around the back roads of Stoke d’Abernon, Oxshott, Esher, Ember Court, Hurst Park, East Molesey and Thames Ditton!  It was cold!

The second and third groups played a close match and pretty much turned up together at The Angel to find the first group nicely settled in their seats, forks at the ready!

Only one group photo of the ride by Mick, as we were too busy trying to keep warm. But plenty of the excellent Christmas lunch and festivities that followed.


Mick says, ‘The 10:40 group nearly mutinied as Mick tried to spin out the ride to Christmas lunch.  This included stopping for a photo at the Hampton lock and the spinning of the ‘The lock, The barge, The firemen and Chris Hyde’ tale.’

Thanks to Christina for all the organising, with the assistance of Paula (spreadsheet whizz), Pam (compère extraordinaire), Ian (quiz master) and our Father Christmas (the real one). Thanks to the ride sub-leaders, Sue and Mick and to everyone who turned up for the ride and/or lunch who make this such a special day in the Wayfarer’s calendar.”

~ Gill H

Santa spreading his good cheer

Quizmaster Ian with the Boss

The Three Tonys comedy act

Tim caught in flagrante eating lunch

Report for Easy Riders - 6th December

Frank C set out from Wimbledon bathed in gentle sunshine from blue sky, but by North Cheam's meetup the fog was obscuring the sun, and the temperature dropped to bitter. So we were six hardy riders setting out for Cobham this morning, Sandy, Frank B, Anne, Frank C, Ken and me.

We arrived at coffee just as the last of the B groups were departing, some looking very Christmassy in anticipation of their lunch! Ours being next week, we were nonetheless delighted to find the British Legion warm, welcoming as always and with seasonal decs up. Mince pies and shortbread to go with our coffee were a delicious treat and it was good to see Neil C, taking a bye from the A ride today, with Don and Peter T.

Around 11.30 we started thinking about where to go for lunch. We were soon on our way to The Woodman in Lower Ashtead, and I lead a shorter route than usual, through Stoke D'Abernon and bypassing Leatherhead town. Thus we arrived just in time to get the last big table and all sit together!
Food and service were excellent and we enjoyed the usual merry social intercourse and cosy ambience. There was no tea stop this afternoon,  but we enjoyed a sunny ride back over Ashtead and Epsom Commons.

About 25 miles today for North Cheamers.


Saturday, December 02, 2023

SouWester Chair Sought

Next year I will have been Chair of our club for 10 years. It’s been a huge honour and a great experience, thanks mainly to your support and that of the Committee in particular.

I feel that now is the time for me to hand on to a successor, possibly younger and doubtless keen to carry the club forward.

Would anyone be willing to step forward and offer themselves for election at our next AGM?

If so. Please contact me in person or by email If possible, by Wed 17 January. I would be happy to explain the role to anyone interested.

Friday, December 01, 2023

Invite to 'A' Group ride 6th Dec from Cobham

This will be our "2023 farewell to the North Downs" ride. The distance to lunch at the Royal Oak Holmbury is just over 16 miles, but the climbs up Critten, Abinger and past Leith Hill will mean a slow overall pace. After lunch are a few lanes with small climbs ending at Leatherhead after another 12.5 miles. Total elevation is about 1900ft, in 28.5 miles.  

As I only stepped in to lead the week before last I could see the weather forecast for the 6th. One part of the forecast has stayed consistent: the temp is due to be 6C, so the roads should be frost and ice free. I had intended to use Tanhurst but when I reccied yesterday (Thurs) it was half road and half stream, and its carpet of leaf debris was a risk. So the route continues beyond to Ockley Road instead.   

This will be a fair workout leaving you ready for a fine lunch at the Royal Oak. 

We aren't pre-ordering, but here is the menu anyway..  Lunch Menu

Please request to join by email to by 6pm Monday. 

B Group Pre-Christmas Lunch Ride, 6th December

You are invited to join the B group pre-Xmas lunch cycle on 6 December from Cobham. 

It will be a shortish ride of 14 miles, but enough to give us all an appetite and ensure we arrive at The Angel in good time for pre-lunch drinks. A small stretch of towpath otherwise all on road!  

We expect a good turnout, so please let me know as soon as possible, by email to if you are planning to join the ride, and at the latest by Monday 4th, before 6pm. Route below:

Christina would also like to remind us all that traditionally we have a collection at the pub for the staff so please remember to bring along some cash. Also that the amount paid for the meal does not include drinks, so don’t forget some payment method for those. 

Look forward to seeing you all on the ride. 

Gill Holder 

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Report for the Easy Riders - 29th November

The Easy Riders piled on the layers in preparation for near-freezing temperatures. So imagine our surprise to come upon two ladies of mature years in their swimming costumes about to take the plunge into the Thames passing the boat club houses on Lower Ham. Some are made of sterner stuff!

The turnout at Kingston YMCA was the biggest for many weeks and included John Bellamy - his dodgy knees allowing him to join us at elevenses for the first time in a while - and Bernard Power, who was returning for a full day's ride after being sidelined for seven months with a serious tendon injury. Unfortunately, John didn't feel able to continue but it was encouraging to see him back on his bike.

Our route took us across Kingston Bridge and it was hard to believe the warmth of the sunshine as we rode along Barge Walk. There were still signs of a winding down of operations at Hampton Court Palace after Rishi Sunak's business bunfight on Monday.

Passing Imber Court we were overtaken by a truck with an illuminated passenger-side rear light depicting a cyclist overlaid with a no-entry symbol.

Believing Littlemoor Common might present problems after Monday's rain, we turned left opposite Sandown Park and headed for Claygate. This is familiar territory for those of us travelling from North Cheam at Chobham once a month, the difference on this occasion being that we were moving in the reverse direction. 

Interesting to note on the roadside two ladies clad in hi-vis jackets equipped with a speed gun. Was this DIY law enforcement or outsourcing by the authorities? Impossible to say.

A little later than intended our 14-strong group arrived at the Jolly Coopers near Stamford Green. Lunch didn't disappoint.

The sun had disappeared and temperature had dropped by the time we departed.
~ Frank Carter

Report for the Easy Riders - 22nd November

Lovely to welcome Lynda B back to our company at North Cheam this morning, we haven't seen her for ages!

After coffee at Leatherhead, most of the group headed up the Lower Road to Bookham, then up Polesden Lane and down Bagden, downhill all the way to Westhumble and lunch at Stepping Stones. Lovely to see a couple of the B groups heading in the opposite direction up the hill, bless 'em they work so hard to deserve their lunch...

At The Stepping Stones

No teastop for us this afternoon as all wanted to be home before dark.

~ Helen

B Ride 29th November

Short days and cold weather prompted me to plan a short ride with lots of off road paths and parks. We have not ventured to the Sir Michael Balcon (Wetherspoons) before, so this was the planned lunch stop.

25 signed up for the ride, but A.M Wednesday morning and the dropout messages started arriving. An we lost 6 riders, but a few left home late and made their own way to lunch, craftily by using my Strava route 10 out of 10 Steph, although I didn't use that route in the end.

3 groups were needed with these numbers and I planned early starts. 10.20. 10,30 and 10.40, Ray leading group 2 and Tim C leading group 3. Going North of the river to Twickers, then towpath to Isleworth, Syon Park and the towpath to the Great West Road, my group, the first away, got through okay, but groups 2 & 3 found the section of towpath closed and had to re-route, oops. Back roads to Gunnersbury park and a short, cycle path, section of the North Circular, led us to Ealing Common and lunch. 


                                     Tonys group in Gunnersbury Park

Wetherspoons is always a great lunch stop for no booking and large groups, groups 2 & 3 soon joined us and we were all seated in one section. Much banter as usual and the imbibing of beer, for some anyway, my groups was soon raring to get back on the bike. Back around Ealing common and then back alleys down to Brentford, through Brentford North Quarter, (or West Chiswick as I liked to call it when I lived there) and we were soon going back through Twickers, Bushey Park and to tea at Dish, Hampton Court, some of each group stopped, but by now the temperature had dropped again and we didn't linger too long. We were lucky with the weather in that it was very cold but bright and sunny and no snowball fight.

Tims Group in Gunnersbury Park

Thank you all for your company and a special thanks to Ray Y and Tim C for sub-leading and the back markers, it was really a good day out.



Ride Report 29/11/23, sub leader, second group, Ray Youlden

We were greeted with a wonderful sunny but cold day for our ride to Ealing. Due to leave at 10.30but the warm atmosphere of the Hawker Centre proved difficult to persuade people to come out plus two places to possibly meet meant we left later than scheduled. My group was made up of Tony Hooker, Stephen, Christina, Pete, and Grant. We started with a relaxing ride down the river Thames, across the bridge at Teddington where painters were busy painting the bridge, and then along to Twickenham. 

Here we started to discover the complexity of Tony’s well thought out and devious route. Here we took a left at the traffic lights and followed the cycle path along Wharf Lane, down to the Thames and along to York House gardens where Stephen spoke about his son’s wedding reception that used the gardens. This led to a general discussion about the flood height of the Thames and various other points about the area. Following the tow path along to Richmond Bridge where we crossed into Willoughby Road and onto Syon Park. 

Rays group on the canal Towpath

We then entered the Grand Union Canal tow path but after approximately ¼ of a mile were met by a group of workmen who advised us that the canal tow path was closed due to someone leaving a lock gate open and that the floating pontoon was unsafe to use. So, it was back to the main road to find a route through the back roads of Brentford. On our way we encountered Tim Court’s group at the canal entrance and gave them the bad news. 

The route I chose proved to be a pain due to a railway foot bridge that we had to walk
up and down a very steep set of steps. If only I knew, we could have gone along Somerset Road Boston Manor Road and used a road bridge that proved to be the way Tim had taken his group. This meant that we were now the third group on the road. At Gunnersbury Park, Tim let our group overtake, we then cycled around the park, past the Round Pond and along the cycle track, next to the North Circular along to Ealing.

The Sir Michael Balcon pub was up to the normal Weatherspoon’s efficiency, good service, and lots of room to enable us to find some seats. There had been some concerns regarding where to lock the bikes up, but this proved not to be a problem, with bikes being chained to lamp posts, the chain link fencing of the pub, as well as cycle parking just outside of the pub.
Our afternoon ride started with Brenda joining our group so she could get home earlier. We started the afternoon ride with a short walk to Florence Road, where we started the ride. We soon entered a section of cycleways, starting with Bayless Walk through to Clayponds Avenue, we crossed the M4/A4. 

Then onto Brentford, Syon Park, across the A316 and onto St Margaret’s. Here we found a
deserter from the first group, Mick who joined us to ride through Twickenham. At the junction with Cross Deep Road and Heath Road, Mick, Brenda and Christina left us to go to Kingston Bridge while the remaining five cycled to Bushy Park where Stephen left us before cycling to the Dish Café at Hampton Court for tea.

Ray Youlden

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

A Group ride from Kingston YMCA to Harrow on the Hill, 29th November 2023.

 You don't normally expect to see wildlife on an urban ride. Of course, there's deer in Richmond Park, and though obviously not wild, you can often catch sight of a herd of Charolais cattle in Osterley Park, on the edge of urban Hounslow. But it was a surprise on our ride to see a fox running amongst shoppers in South Harrow High Street! And there was a rat, (dead) on the Grand Union Canal towpath. Bright green screeching parakeets were seen in Richmond Park. Bird life was also abundant on the canal - including coots, moorhens, and gulls. However a group, (collective noun a bevy, a bank, a herd or a gaggle?) of swans tried to disrupt our progress on the canal towpath at Southall. 

Bird life on the Canal

Frances's group was first away from Kingston YMCA. They made such good progress that reaching the Moon on the Hill at noon, decided to press-on to have a late lunch/afternoon tea at The Stables, Osterley Park. I'm sure they must have reached home by mid afternoon!

Osterley Park late lunchers.

Coffee at the Hawker Centre.

 Dave Ward led his group next - having sensibly recommended Barnes railway bridge onto Dukes Meadow instead of the notorious South Circular to Kew bridge. In his words "the 10.35 departing group had a very uneventful experience on Ged's ride, and that is just the way I prefer it!   Neil W, Neil C, Peter S, Simon L, Steve D and I set off promptly in the lovely winter sunshine and made steady progress around the route, even avoiding the temptation to 'cut off the corners' in Richmond Park.    I always seem to get caught by the 'double jeopardy' at Vine Road level crossings and this time was no exception, but we only had the briefest of delays, and were on our way again before you could say 'shiver'!   A fastish pace keeps the cold at bay and we somehow managed to arrive at lunch just after 12.00 pm.   Service was friendly and efficient and we were on our way again, suitably refreshed, by 1.00 pm.   Leaving Harrow town centre  a minor navigational blip (I blame the Garmin) required a very short retrace.    This was the only excitement of the whole ride and  we were quickly enjoying a lovely ride along the Paddington Branch towpath.   At Osterley we caught up with Frances's group and I was able to switch to auto-pilot!    This rested my brain but did mean we had to exert ourselves a bit to keep her group in sight as they did set a mean pace over the last few miles!

Thanks to Ged for master-minding what was an ideal ride for a short winter's day, to my group for their company, and to Steve D for back-marking all day."

Barnes bridge.

My group caught-up the middle group at the 'Spoons in Harrow (which lacked baked potatoes and served some dubious beer!). 


The ride along the Canal was sometimes challenging, caused by the blindingly bright, low winter sun reflecting off the water.
Dave W's group.

Blinding light!

After stopping in Osterley Park for the traditional comfort break, Dave's group left Steve Duffin to greet us at the Richmond Bridge Cafe. 

Osterley Park - a traditional stop.

Out of a total group of 18, four made it to tea in Richmond. Feeling chilly as the sun went down, Steve and I tried to cycle home on the Thames towpath - only to discover the high Spring tide left the path impassible under a few feet of water! A trek up to the Petersham Road was the alternative.

Richmond high Spring tide.

Many thanks to Frances and Dave Ward for sub-leading, and for the many helpful suggestions on route changes in making the ride so enjoyable. After wet Autumn riding a sunny, although chilly day, was very welcome.

This was the route - for future rides up to Harrow on the Hill.

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Report for A Group - 22 November

It was a dry but cloudy day for a hilly ride for 19 'A' Groupers from the Fairfield Centre in Leatherhead.

Dave F’s Report:

My group (Frances, Dave V, Pete B, Richard and Geoff kindly subbing for Andy C who was off with a cold) were first away, roughly on schedule. No mean feat given the numbers assembled in the day centre with similar departure times.

It was an easy ride to put my hand up to sub lead, as I was very familiar with most of the route. Clive had promised a generous helping of hills and it certainly delivered on that. After ascending to Headley via Ashtead we then had a swift descent of Boxhill, waving furiously at numerous B group riders who were ascending it and spread out from the top of Boxhill to the Westhumble approach where we then had the challenge of Ranmore Common Road which we had not ascended for some time. Because of the road closure through Westhumble it was attracting slightly more frustrated motorists than normal. A couple of us experienced some uncomfortably close passes. 

Clive’s morning route had quite a sting in its tail before lunch. It involved cycling down Hogden Lane and then doubling back up High Barn Lane before the traditional decent of Critten. After consulting with my group following feedback from some who had joined the Recce on Monday regarding the poor road surface conditions we opted to skip that short sharp dog - leg. Of course, we were all hugely disappointed as we would have loved those extra 10% ascents just before lunch!

We were the first to arrive at the Running Horses that I had not visited for many years. And pleasantly surprised I was as well. We fortunately managed to get our orders in just before a large group and finally found our designated seating area in a cunningly concealed back room. The sandwich choices included the option of “ a handful of chips” at a more reasonable supplement than many we visit. After a comfortable 60-minute break we were again first away.

At lunch, Frances had already bade us farewell to take her own route home, it was time the rest of us to visit Headly for the second time and onwards and upwards via Hurst Lane to Walton. Several of us were very complementary of Clive’s unusual route to Tattenham corner. Epsom Lane South and Preston Lane were both a first for me before familiar route to a busy Moat House where we were the first of the As or Bs to arrive around 3 pm.

My thanks to my sub group for a very enjoyable ride and to Clive for arranging an unusual but very suitable winter ride. Not sunny, but at least dry and reasonably mild.

Clive's Report:

My group was last off and was made up of: Fiona, Peter S, Hans, Dave B, Neil W and Mike R. The morning route was a loop from the Fairfield Centre in Leatherhead and back to Leatherhead for lunch at The Running Horse.

We set off in the direction of Ashtead, over the footbridge across the M25 and a few minutes later came across David J’s group fixing a puncture in Parker’s Lane. It was bad luck to get a puncture so soon after setting off but they seemed to have it under control, so we left them to it and continued through Ashtead and up to Headley via Farm Lane/Walton Rd. and then to the top of Box Hill.

As we descended Box Hill at speed, we came across the Bs toiling their way up it, en route to Woodmansterne for lunch. But it wasn’t long before we were also toiling away up Ranmore Common Road.

A controversial part of my route was a section that goes down Hogden Lane, from Ranmore Common Road, and then back up, on High Barn. I had received some feedback about the road surface here but I thought it was ok when I recce’d it the previous week. My group was prepared to give it a go so I decided to go down there anyway and I think everyone appreciated the extra hill!

When we arrived at The Running Horse, Dave F’s group was already there and had placed their orders. But a large group of people had got in there between Dave's group and mine, so our food was slow to arrive. I don't think the other two groups had that problem. Apart from that, the staff were friendly, the food was good, and very reasonably priced in this nice traditional pub.

Coming outside after the cosiness of the pub, the day seemed to have become rather grey and cold. So it was a good thing we had a long gradual climb out of Leatherhead up to Tyrells Wood to concentrate on and warm us up. Then, at Headley, we crossed over our path from the morning, and headed up Hurst Lane towards Walton-on-the-Hill and Tadworth. Then to Tattenham Corner, past the racecourse and we arrived at the Old Moat garden centre for tea just after 3pm, where it was a pleasure to bump in to the Bs again.

David J also led a group made up of: Jennie, Patrick, Sue C, Dave E, and Alan I.

Thanks to Dave F and David J for sub leading and to my group for an excellent day out.