Sunday, November 29, 2020

Saturday ride +

 Terry's report wouldn't be complete without a photo of the man himself at the top of Whitedown in the mist.

By the time I got back to Ryka's the sun was out. It looked more Covid friendly than healthy and I didn't fancy joining a queue that went inside - no hatch like Denbies. Showing considerable hypocrisy after my comments to Jeff recently I then cycled up Box Hill. The motorists far outnumbered the cyclists and went, lemming like, to the viewpoint. I just continued home.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Saturday ride

Brian kindly suggested we could go for a ride so we met at the Young Street /A24 roundabout in dry but not very promising conditions. Skirting Leatherhead Brian led us along Lower Road to Bookham where we turned right at the squareabout. Soon after passing Bookham station we left the main road to tackle Bookham Common. The tracks were quite rideable and soon we emerged at Effingham Junction.

We then headed south to Effingham, noting the newish cafe Layla's was closed (well worth a visit when it reopens). Brian chose to continue UP High Barn Road and beyond, I chose Beech Avenue, passable for peds and cyclists. We met up at the crossroads before descending misty Whitedown to the not very busy A25. We turned off Coast Hill into Balchin's Lane where the lady's weavery samples were on display and shortly stopped to admire the alpacas.

We continued on N22 to Hugh ('Bertie') Broom's Miltoncourt Farm, noting he had recently had some of his farm roads concreted - a distinct improvement. Briefly joining the A25 again, I was almost home, Brian had to decide whether to stop at Ryka's or not. Thanks for your company, Brian

 Westcott alpacas (again)

A Sunny Ride on a Foggy Day

 Sitting at breakfast this morning, looking out at the weather, it was a pretty depressing sight.  Thick mist, more than a hint of dampness.  It looked chilly, and not much of a day for a ride.  But hope springs eternal, and I slowly convinced myself that it was lighter to the South East.  Worth a shot - what about the Ashdown Forest?

It was indeed worth a shot.  By the time I got to East Grinstead I was completely out of the mist, into cloudless blue sky and bright sunshine.  It was even fairly mild, at 12.5C.

Down past Stone Farm Rocks, over the bridge at Weir Wood and up the long climb to Sharpstone.  A dogleg here, then along the very pretty ridge that leads to Horsted Keynes.  I stopped at the Green Man for a photo - it was closed, of course - but happy memories of summer rides to meet our East Sussex friends.

We'll be back ...

On to Chelwood Gate, then steadily up to the High Road, at the top of the Forest.  Grand views from here, and the fog bank from which I had escaped was visible in the distance.

Down to Chuck Hatch, then down again past the Pooh Sticks bridge to the stream at the bottom of The Wall.  A horse was standing in the ford, taking a drink, which was a good excuse to go over the bridge.  Up towards The Hatch - also closed - then along The Ridge towards Wych Cross. Lovely views again from here, the fog bank again being visible, this time to the North.

I was evidently in a sunny hole in some pretty tedious weather, but it was a lovely afternoon for riding.  There were a lot of cyclists and horse riders out, and everyone looked pretty pleased with themselves.

'Start on one star', as my old mountain guide used to say, and sometimes it works.  When I got home it was still foggy, and Maggie told me that it had been dreary all day.

A spot of luck.


Friday, November 27, 2020

Tony and Grant head for Bedfont Lakes

This week Grant and I made our way to Bedfont Lakes & Country Park on a very overcast day with occasional light showers. Our route took us through Bushy Park, Hanworth and Feltham using the unusual spiral foot/cyclist bridge over the A316.

The Country Park is in three parts divided by Bedfont Lane and the railway line. The major part is well sign posted and we cycled around the well made path in the Country Park and ended up at the visitors' centre including an open W.C.

From there we headed onto Staines (a mistake by me!) and then along the river for tea at Walton Bridge.

37 miles (aprox) which was fine for this time the year.

Thanks again to Grant for his company.







~ Tony


How not to recce in Lockdown

 I thought I'd make an early start planning my ride from Weybridge on 16th December. Bad idea! Cafes were closed - including my planned pit-stop at the Hogs Back Manor Farm cafe, Seale. The same with pubs: it was far too soon to be checking-out beer gardens on the day Tier 2 was announced. Something to do with the 3rd December. I should have waited!

No coffee and cakes today!

My planned route was based on a ride I led from Addlestone to Puttenham and Leatherhead in March 2018, with two legs loaded into Garmin. The Garmin took me to Seale then went to sleep - and couldn't be roused. (And also lost my day's activity). Still I had a trusty OS map to get me to the other side of Guildford.

I met two interesting characters on the ride. The Dancing Queen - waiting for the 'phone-box to ring at Compton.

 The Dancing Queen, with phone-box glitter ball.

The second was a poacher! He was ambling along a quiet country lane  - Stakescorner Road near Loseley Park, Littleton, and kindly agreed to pose for a photo. We had a chat.

Rabbiting poacher.

The two rabbits (dead) were for his supper - caught with the aid of a device in a box slung across his shoulder. (Dave F. - any idea what's in the box?). The air holes provide a clue. (Answer below). He lent on his rabbiting spade as we chatted. 

I finally got a bite to eat - after 28miles, at the Snooty Fox, Shalford, and felt sufficiently fortified to climb Coombe on the way back to Leatherhead.

There's time to refine my route - and find pit-stops open, before asking for co-leaders. It will be alright on the night!

And as for key dates - on 24th November 2010 I joined my first Wayfarers ride from Teddington. With Cobham RBL closed, I'll bring some cookies for Wednesday's elevenses for my group bubble to help celebrate my 10years a Wayfarer.

(Answer - a ferret).

A Group 2 December

 As noted by Paul's post for the B's we look set to ride on Weds 2nd assuming no issues from CTC. I have just talked to the landlord of the Red Lion in Betchworth who is clearly raring to get going and serve people. The Red Lion have outside marquees and I'm told the normal menu on the website will be served including the lunch options.

Red Lion Menu

I already have one, possibly two, volunteers to sublead so I will need one or two more who are prepared to lead from a gpx file. It's all fairly familiar stuff but you are welcome to do a solo or paired recce in the meantime.

Plan is to meet as usual at Cobham by the RBL ( sorry, no free coffee) with departures from 1000 ( or even 9.45) and then go via Effingham and High Barn/Hogden Lane to Ranmore and down through Denbies to Pixham. A long loop south to Norwood Hill and back to Betchworth would make 27 miles to lunch with several options to shorten if required. From there it's only 10 miles back to Epsom via Little Switzerland but I'm not proposing to stop for tea so we can all get home in the light.

If you wish to ride or, more importantly, volunteer to lead please let me know by 6pm Monday. Gpx will be available later today.

Places may be limited depending on leaders.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

B Group - 2nd December

Further to the announcement today on the geographic extent of Tier 2 Covid restrictions coming into force on the 2nd, we understand that we will once more be a position to run our rides as we had been until the current lockdown phase. In particular this means we expect to return to meeting outdoors and riding in groups of six. The present Lockdown will end at 00:01 on Wednesday 2nd December and we are expecting confirmation from CUK regarding the guidelines for our conduct and regarding their insurance cover.

Paul has planned to lead a B Group ride on Wednesday.  We currently have two leaders and would welcome one or two more, preferably ones who are happy to lead directly from the RideWithGPS route for which there is a link below. (The route can as usual be exported to a phone or Garmin device or similar.)

We will meet earlier than usual to try to get home before dark, leaving from the Patisserie on Station Road Stoke d'Abernon (free coffee for cyclists) and cycling on roads and sound tracks through Pyrford Lock and Woking Park to Elm Farm at Sutton Green for an outdoor lunch (bring your cowboy hats).  Bikes will have to be pushed over the pedestrian bridge which crosses the A3 at Wisley, and there is a short but muddy lane out of Woking. There is no plan for a Tea stop.

The route back has some interesting features.  The track along the bank of the River Wey was eminently cyclable on the first recce (after a night of torrential rain), but we had to get off and push for two hundred yards on the 2nd recce, in preference to sliding into the river, which looked cold.  The route from Send to Effingham Junction is all on-road, and then we go up Bank's Lane on a beautiful leafy path through to and across Bookham Common then River Lane to end the ride near Leatherhead Station.  No getting off and pushing, but there will be a few damp patches. About 30 miles.

Not much climbing at all, but some might not want to embrace the mud, in either sense, so for you a less scenic but mud free afternoon route to follow can be advised.

Please write to Paul by Monday evening to confirm your intention to join the ride. Please indicate whether you wish to do the whole ride all the way through to Leatherhead or whether you might peel off at Effingham Junction, or earlier, at Send or Ockham for example, or even straight after lunch. We will endeavour to allocate riders going all the way to the early starts, which may be as early as 10:00.

Subject to another leader or two volunteering for this ride places may be limited.

The route is here:

~ Paul (and Tim)

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

The Northern Heights Expedition


Alexandra Palace had been on my to-do list for a while, and as Hans went there a couple of weeks ago, it seemed a suitable lockdown trip. Nothing like as high as Leith Hill, but with several climbs to get there, starting with Primrose Hill it was sufficient of a challenge to keep warm on a November day. Apparently these hills are called the “Northern Heights”.

Paul James agreed to accompany me, with enthusiasm remarkably undimmed after I belatedly told him my route took in Swains Lane, described by The Cyclist as “the toughest climb in London” and “maxing at 20% over 900 metres”. Hidden Highgate describes it as “practically vertical in places” which is the sort of remark which gets hyperbole a bad name.

Meeting on Clapham Common for coffee and crossing the river at Chelsea Bridge we were initially in familiar territory with memories of many years working, and in my case cycle commuting. An early stop at that other palace brought forth no offers of refreshments, leaving us thankful we had got ours in earlier.


North of Regent’s Park we were on roads I knew less well, so Paul had to put up with my occasional stops as I tried to relate where the Garmin thought I should go to what I saw on the ground.

Swains Lane was a challenge, but I think we agreed that it was unremarkable compared to any climb on the Hilly 50.


The final approach to Ally Pally was along a cycleway following the track of the Muswell Hill Railway, long closed, but in it’s time the shortest railway in the country.  It offers spectacular views across London to the south from a viaduct over the suburban streets below. 


Similar views could be had from the palace itself, but by now we needed lunch, alfresco in the Lakeside Café, sheltering from a freshening wind.


After chilling even further on the descent from Ally Pally we faced a rather lengthy climb up Queens Wood to Highgate, followed by a more welcome 2 miles of sheltered descending along Parklands Walk, another former railway track, to Finsbury Park.

As we approached central London there were more segregated cycle tracks than I recall, finishing by crossing the river at Blackfriars, which is now totally segregated, and heading west to Clapham Common. There we went our separate ways, in good time to get home before dark.

My thanks to Paul for his patient company, not to mention his photos.