Sunday, May 31, 2020

A Grand day Out

There is a lovely route to Chalfont St Giles that has a few lumps on the way but being a lovely sunny Sunday and wanting some miles in my legs I opted for it. I took the most direct route to Uxbridge which meant cycling through, the now ghost town of, Heathrow airport. Amazing to see so many planes grounded, they also have an enormous Covid-19 testing station setup at Hatton Cross.

Stockley park was also so empty. Once through Uxbridge and onto Denham, Colne Valley park was packed with cars parked everywhere. On into Denham and time for a few photos, one of Sir John Mills house, and an elaborately painted house next to Denham church, which, bye the way, does lovely tea and cakes on a Sunday in the summer.

On along the A412 to Tilehouse lane and a little climb to Denham aerodrome. And onto Maple Cross and the nice climb upto the Chiltern open air museum. And onto the B4442. There is a monument to Captain Cook just off the B4442 and I had a brief foray looking for it but to no avail. A strange place for a sea captain but I know it's there, another time.

A nice descent down to Chalfont St Giles, which is a nice place for a stop, but I had determined not to stop at all today, except for a call of nature and photos. Once through Chalfont St Giles I took a left into Bowstridge lane which took me virtually into Chalfont St Peter and passing through Layters Green and onto Gerrards Cross.

Gerrards Cross was very quiet. A nice coffee stop, Jungs, has closed down, the one in Beaconsfield is still open. There is some nice little folly's, see picture. Once through Gerrards Cross heading , South, there is a nice decent and across a, nearlt dry, Ford and onto Pinewood, past the studios and onto Shredding Green, Iver and down to Colnbrook. Poyle and Stanmore, Bedfont

Decided to shortcut home and so cycled through Feltam and onto Hampton. Reasonably pleased with my fitness after my accident in December and moving house so off the bike for nearly 3 months. A very pleasant day out, just missing the company of C&M.


Saturday, May 30, 2020

From the CUK website


There is no limit on duration or frequency of exercise; however official advice remains that you should stay at home 'as much as possible'.
You can travel any distance in order to exercise.
On Thursday 28 May, Boris Johnson, announced that from Monday 1 June in England up to six people will be allowed to meet outside, provided those from different households continue strictly to observe social distancing rules by staying two metres apart.
Government guidance published on Friday, 29 May has not yet reflected this change, maintaining that for the purposes of exercise you are still allowed to meet with only one person who is not a member of your household, provided social distancing is maintained.
Cycling UK will continue to monitor developments and currently advises that in England exercise is only taken alone, with members of your household or with one person who is not a member of your household, provided social distancing is maintained.

CUK website


Friday, May 29, 2020

Can I Change My Mind

A warm and sunny day, three days since my last so off I went again. This (Thursday) ride was a barrel-scrapper and is not recommended for those of sound mind. In places this driest of Mays has created an uneven brick-like surface  Elsewhere the lack of moisture content meant slippin' and slidin' on road tyres. Walking guaranteed.

I took my standard route to Weybridge station and descended to Brooklands. Half a dozen good-natured yellow-coated fellows are building a track/path along the banks of the Wey so sewage work(?) and not New Haw footpath improvements as I previously hinted.

Byfleet had crowds aplenty in Tesco's and  in the Community skate park. After the Blue Anchor ( and Mill Lane the Downton Abbey manor house was shrouded  by renovations. On the M25 bridge to the A3 bridge bridleway I met four vans! (including postie). Ockham Bites was packed. After turns at the Muddy Duck and Hautboy (as was), I continued to Long Reach and Bachelor's Lane. It was fine as far as the house but beyond nettles, brambles and "No Entry Convid-19 Exclusion Zone" signs kept me to the straight and extremely narrow. I'd never ridden the full length of next bridleway (to the east of Hungry Hill) and was surprised by (1) a pram pusher and (2) a family cycle group. The last section (after the "cement" road) is best avoided probably impassable in winter. Further south would have been Staple Lane so I headed east at the railway bridge for West Horsley; the only track of the day with no company.

The butcher's to Orestan path allowed me to check that Squires and the Vineries were open  (and crowded). By now the ride had lost much of its charm so I finished a normal Bookham, Tilt, Oxshott and Claygate flourish.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

The Ring Cycle

I don't know about you, but I'm getting a bit cheesed off with the limitations of lockdown riding now. (With apologies to those who aren't able to ride at all.)   I seem to travelled most of the roads less travelled that are near where I live, wearing a groove in the the same three or four roads away from home.

I wanted to do a longer ride, so I thought I would try a circle, five miles radius from home.   Because it's at right-angles to the direction I normally travel to/from home, it would be less-familiar roads.   And it wouldn't be far: 31.42 miles to be nearly exact.   Plus another 10 to get to/from the start.  41.42 miles.   Or so I thought.

When I planned the route, there were a few obstacles to get round.   Rivers.   Airports, stuff like that.  So it wasn't an exact circle.   Ride with GPS told me it was 44 miles.  Not too bad.   Anyway I set off mid Monday afternoon, hoping to avoid the crowds, which was largely successful.

Out along the river Crane cycle route to tackle the worst bit first: around Heathrow.  The A30 was quiet and not too bad for cycling: it had a cycle path but other people were on it and it was narrow.  Then the inner distribution road, past lines of parked planes - again quiet.    North through Harlington and Hayes and then turning east.  Across the canal, places I'd never been: Manor Court (north of Southall), Dormers Wells (south of Greenford), Castle Bar GWR railway station  (north of Hanwell) is about as far north as I got.

Now I was on a descent through Montpelier (north of Ealing), Acton, Stamford Brook, and then along the A4 to Hammersmith bridge, as the towpath is closed to cyclists.  The bridge has separate lanes for pedestrians each way, everyone very well-spaced out.  I was aiming to go round the river side of Barnes Wetlands Centre and discovered Harrods Village as I was cutting through to the towpath.  You can see the Furniture Depository building from the river but I hadn't realised that it's quite an extensive estate, with 2 bedroom flats for only £1m.   I didn't have my cheque book with me, so I continued on my ride. 
2 bedroom flat ???
It was a warm day so I was rationing my water bottle, a glug every 5 miles or so.  Along the towpath nearly to Putney before diving south.  A maze of flats in the no-man's land between Roehampton, Putney and Wimbledon before emerging victorious beside Wimbledon Common.   My circular route kept me off the common itself though.  Descent towards New Malden involved a rather zigzag approximation to the circle, including some nasty uphills (Wool Road!!!), and a bit along the A3.   I was at least half-way round but I was getting suspicious.  I'd already done 32 miles or so, and the distance remaining was 17 miles.

South Lane, New Malden has a neat little cut-through taking you to near Woodies pub - except I couldn't find it.  In the end it was hidden in a tunnel, actually through the middle of the parade of shops.   Round  Woodies' playing fields, a rather rough path along the Hogsmill, and then a lovely ride right round Surbiton: Alexandra Drive and Ditton Road and through a nature reserve to emerge at Thames Ditton.   Westbound now, past Esher station and along the path across the Wey to Walton, where I went the wrong way for quite a while before realising and turning back.

The sun was getting low in the sky now, and it seemed I had a long way still to go.  Bit of a diversion for Walton Bridge, better than swimming across, although some were immersing themselves, if not swimming - and then northbound to Upper Halliford, a stretch of the A308 Staines Road before turning right towards Ashford, and then north-east back to Bedfont and my starting point.    I treated myself to a last gulp of water and headed home, arriving just before sunset.

It was an 'interesting' ride.   Not very scenic, but a few nice places that I might go back to if I can think of an excuse.   Plenty of parks, still full of people at 4-5-6 o'clock, some in big groups playing football or having picnics, but also lots of people just doing very gentle exercise by lying down in the sun.   Much further than I thought: I realised that my Ride with GPS route didn't include the 12 miles to/from the starting point, so the total was 60 miles.

The Send Giraffes


Unique building at East Horsley


A Sunday Solo Ride

Not wanting to miss a Sunday ride I headed towards Cobham and then Downside and Effingham Junction and onto East Horsley. A little coffee shop was openat East Horsley with a small queue outside, I didn't stop as I had a drink with me. I ventured just into Chalk lane and stopped for a drink.

After my brief stop I headed back towards Ockham and then Guileshell Lane, Hungry Hill and onto Titheburns Lane and then the A247 to Send  and Send Marsh. The weather was fairly good, not to hot. West Byfleet followed and Adlestone back to Walton bridge and home. A very pleasent solo ride, company would have been nice and a coffee stop, but  hopefully thats not to distant.


Monday, May 25, 2020

Higher And Higher

Following recent government guidelines my ride today measured 29 miles(or 58 if the truth be known).

The start was all too familiar - Kingston Gate, Teddington Lock, NPL, Duke's Passage and Hampton to Lower Sunbury. I escaped from the strings of cyclists using Walton Bridge. After Addlestone came the descent through Row Town then West Byfleet. After last Sunday's experience, I stuck to the roads through Sheerwater (large erection), past Woking FC and Sutton Green and into Guildford by my usual route with plenty of new build going up beside the railway.

Who else "lived" here?
Since lock-down started there's been a dearth of hills for me to "enjoy". This I rectified by climbing up through Onslow Village to the A31 which was easily crossed. Then it was swiftly down to Watts Gallery (open) and along a sandy NCN 22 to Puttenham. After a look-see of the hop fields and refreshments it was under A31 north to Christmaspie,  east along the track to White Hart Lane Wood Street and Guildford hence home along the A3 route.

Friday, May 22, 2020

What's Going On

The map says it all except:

(1) The Weybridge to New Haw path was closed at Seven Arches Bridge with big boy's toys clearing the undergrowth. Visit needed from our New Haw expert?

(2) Muddy Lane is as it ever was and  Wisley was partially open, not that we've used it in recent years.

(3) The green at Pirbright was "packed". Surprisingly the Cricketers was open but not as a pub. It's been extended at both ends to include a cafe and a farm shop. Takeaway only  - a long queue (10 to 15) deterred further investigation.

(4) Hottest day of year so far and way too warm for me despite a wind.

The situation in Richmond Park is weird. It's still walkers only. The cafes reopened this week but not the toilets and still no access to Pembroke Lodge or Isabella. Beware you might encounter a motorised off-road patrol perhaps the Ranger himself?

Update - there is no update! but outside Norbiton Station I saw this. Ignoring the orange carrier bag and Salisburys logo, how common are they? 

Monday, May 18, 2020

Getting Mighty Crowded

Traffic seemed to be almost back to Sunday standards and there were plenty of cyclists including early bird, DV, on Park Road Kingston, only the second SWL'er I've seen since shutdown began.

For many folks it seemed the war was over! They were everywhere : in the expected places (Bushy Park and the Wey Navigation) but also on the Sheep Walk, a bridleway between Pyrford and Old Woking (in places less than eighteen inches wide!). Toss in the dozen or so groups picnicking at the Stew Pond(s) on Epsom Common. I hope you get the picture.

Social distancing was often impossible perhaps KEEP LEFT might work?

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Revel without a Course

With apologies to James Dean, and to you for the contrived title, but, well, it reminds me of when I secured the prestigious job of Chair of our college Film Society, by being the only person in the room when they were looking for successors.  My only qualifications were that I had been taking the money off people for our weekly film showings (sound familiar?), and being slow to think of an excuse.   My first assignment was to book the films for next term - and I quickly realised that I hadn't a clue (my film experience being pretty well limited to Mary Poppins and Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines).   So I asked the outgoing chairman to suggest a programme.   Being a film buff, he was only too happy to scribble down fifteen or so titles for me.

During the holidays, I had to decipher his illegible writing and find these films in the bulky film distributors' catalogues (several the size of an old telephone directory) .   One eluded me: my best guess was Revel Without A Horse.  Much later, I realised it was the James Dean classic, Rebel Without A Cause.   

What does this have to do with cycling?   Not much, but I decided to share it anyway.    Meanwhile, on the cycling front, I needed an excuse to come up with a different bike ride today.   I left the house without a clue (and without a course, of course) and headed to Richmond.   On the way, I decided to check whether the River Thames was still there, so my route consisted of Richmond to Ham, to Kingston, via Thames Ditton to Hampton Court and continuing on the south side of the river to Walton, where I crossed to the other side and went through Shepperton, turned right before Chertsey Bridge, (thereby missing Chertsey Abbey again), up to Laleham and Staines, almost all off the towpath (which wasn't that busy, in fact) but quite often in sight of the river.  A pretty thorough survey, I think you'll agree, but more to the point, a nice ride, 36 miles, no hills and not too many people.

Was the Thames still there?   You decide.
Still there.

Still there.

Still there.

Still there.

Still there.  But no ferry, no ice cream, and no boat hire.

Still there.

Still there.

Still there.
Still there.

Still there.

Still there.

Still there.

Staines, still -on-Thames

Swan Upping

PS.  On the way home I had to go through an annoying 4-way control set of temporary traffic lights in Feltham, which have been there for weeks.  They weren't working, and everyone was using common sense and getting by just fine.   Perhaps Stay Alert is working...?

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Memories of the great plague 

From Paul James:

As Editor of Sou'Wester, I should like to include in the next Coronavirus edition any interesting or unusual lockdown tales from members.  Have you been doing anything unusual and interesting?  Please let me know at

What on earth have you been doing?

This is what the esteemed Editor of our Sou'Wester Newsletter has been asking (see above).  With our rides suspended,  the country in lock-down, some of us confined to barracks or shielding, from the hesitant response, it would seem: very little. That cannot be true. When he asks what unusual or interesting things we might have been doing, including solo rides, I'm sure that any lock-down disclosures will be treated with the utmost discretion. Forget your blushes and let him know what you have been up to in these bizarre and unforgettable times. I know, social distancing does make things difficult, but you must have been doing something, either solo or in a group of one + one. "What did you do during the great corvid19 epidemic of 2020, Grandad?" "Nothing." Come on, give our Editor a hand, sharpen your pencils and get the Sou'Wester presses rolling, or he'll be on furlough and the Sou'Wester history. We cannot allow that.


Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Get It While You Can

Day 1 so what has changed; not a lot. The number of private cars continues to rise but it still feels like an early/quiet Sunday morning. For how much longer? 

A visit to the Great Wen was long overdue. With Richmond Park still closed to cyclists (!), I was forced along the pre-1927 A3 reached by crawling up the Rue du Croissant (as the French might say) to a newish but still incomplete cycle path over Kingston Hill. There was only one other cyclist before Roehampton where I deviated through the Alton Estate to join NCN4 on Priory Lane.

 After a detour to Hammersmith Bridge (not crossed it since it closed) and Fulham FC I rejoined NCN4 at Putney Bridge. Approaching Parliament Square, the absence of tourists and most other things (open shops, crowded buses/coaches, armed police) was palpable so I continued only as far as Northumberland Avenue before turning for home. Kings Road without shoppers is absolute bliss! For many years Victoria to Putney Bridge was a regular route home though never continuing over Wimbledon Common and Coombe Hill so take parts of the map with a pinch of salt.
Guess who worked here (1970-1985)

Saturday, May 09, 2020

Agent Double O Soul

It's only Saturday but I heard tomorrow's forecast and didn't like one bit of it. I do like to explore don't you? Some you win, some you  lose.

Buckinghamshire (okay any spot north of the M4) needed checking out.  Going I used a southern (Feltham YOI / West Bedfont) route. It was quiet - I counted only two planes all day!  After Langley and Black parks, lunch was Pinewood and the return was Highway 61 (revisited) followed by our Sipson - Isleworth route and home over Richmond bridge  and Ham.

1) The last section of the B378 (Stanwell-Stanwell Moor) road is closed for three months but currently not to cyclists!

2) Anyone who uses the Junction 14 cycle route may have spotted a tunnel under A3113 Airport Way. Today I decided to find out where it led.
The straight ahead route was more prominent but appealed not thanks to a burnt off motorcycle fifty yards beyond the tunnel. Instead I made an immediate left onto an undulating track running alongside the M25  ending at Longfordmoor. Far more scenic than going via Poyle.

Old Slade Lane
3) But my next experiment was much less successful.  You cannot cross to Iver and beyond this year using the (demolished?) Old Slade bridge nor can I recommend the bridleway return to the A4; those inured to nettles may disagree. You must use Sutton Lane which leads north from the Colnbrook A4 roundabout.

4) The locals seem to have won the day. Hollow Hill Lane is boarded up so onwards to Shreding Green is your only option.

5) Despite notices stating it's closed, there's nothing to stop anyone from entering or exiting Langley Park.

6) Black Park  is even odder. It too is closed; the Peace Road (roughly opposite the main gate of Langley Park) is padlocked. But further east it's a wooden "chicane" and from Pinewood the Link Path is a open gate. Even more bizarre within the park are large (2 metres?) posters warning of the need for social distancing.

7) And on the same theme, check out how many folk observe social distancing on the Thames Path:Northern Bank between Isleworth and Richmond where significant sections  are (just over) two metres wide.

Thursday, May 07, 2020

Time Has Come Today

Time has come when I can leave the house, shop and be back indoors before 0830 leaving the rest of the day free. High teens and light easterlies suggested a longer trip to northwest Surrey which I call Goveland. Much will be familiar; I could have turned at Windlesham and/or Chobham but decided to continue to Lightwater where a north-south bridleway leads towards Bisley. I've never dared to include it in an organized ride.

The first section runs beside Greyspot Grenade Range (quiet). It yielded one fast disappearing roe deer and a "Soldiers in training Please clean up after your dog" sign. The surface is heathland and stony not improved by a top dressing of one inch clinker in places; definitely easier N-S.

In contrast the next section can be watery and/or muddy but not today. It was a Flytippers’ heaven but “FC” gates may stem the flow of new material though not scramblers. Ford Road has no ford so after the new build of the east end of West End I detoured past an abandoned(?) caravan site to a ford many will recognise. Chobham, Ottershaw, Weybridge, etc rounded off the day.

Monday, May 04, 2020

Group Riding

 Dear All,

Prompted by an earlier incident, Dave Vine has posted the following advice to members on the MWW website. As it is relevant to all of us, I have copied it here for the attention of all, in what are trying times for everybody.

Let's look forward to the unlocking of lock-down.


Group Riding

I am sure you are aware that the government is considering what to do next about the current lock-down, and there may be some announcement next Sunday. However, there is no guarantee that there will be any early change which affects our riding.

The committee is considering what our next steps will be, following government advice and CUK guidelines.

In the meantime the rules are quite clear. No group rides, even informally organised, even with social distancing. Only solo riding allowed. Anything other than solo riding will not be covered by CUK insurance.

I can understand many members are keen to get out on club rides as soon as possible, but please contain your enthusiasm for a while longer. All members will appreciate how difficult this period has been, but will thank everyone for their patience and for keeping others safe. Your wellbeing and the lives of others may depend on it.
Posted by Dave Vine on the MWW website.

Sunday, May 03, 2020

Sunday C&M solo ride. A pleasant day to cycle. I wanted a bit of elevation to get the legs going so ventured to Claygate and a nice loop round.
Claygate Church

Then off to Esher, then Hersham and upto Seven Hills road, as the Burwood estate now has no access with security on the gate. Down to the Walton Common roundabout and back roads into Wadebridge. Onto the A3050 to Walton then the Lower Hampton road and home. Only 25 miles and 500 plus foot of climbing, does mean I will enjoy my Sunday dinner and a glass or two of the good stuff even more.

A  very pleasant ride. Noticeably many cyclists, joggers and walker out.


Who's That Lady

I avoided the usual humilation of Hampton Count Road and beyond by entering Bushy Park at Cobbler's Gate and exiting at Hampton Hill. Roads remain quiet but with an  increasing number of cars  (usual occupants: one male). I took my alternative route to Staines over the Hanworth spiral, past BP and the newly demolished Ashford sorting office. Near the prison I took to the footpath which runs alongside the aqueduct towards Knowle Green. At best it's a 3 seasons route so some muddy patches after recent rain.

It was not the brightest or warmest of days and  no encouragement to continue. I headed south to join the Thames near Notcutts Laleham. NCN 4 was surprisingly quiet. Having been missing for a couple of hours cyclists reappeared in their droves at Chertsey Bridge (understandable) or climbing Woburn Hill (beats  me!). is an excellent planning tool but sometimes it produces oddities like today's invite to visit the Hersham Sewage works. As an "expert" I know this to be long gone and inaccessible. it's underlying opensteetmap data that's wrong provided by folks like me so I won't complain too loudly.

Dull all day and light drizzle on the return though not enough to dampen my clothes. 25+ miles

For SL read Patterson's footnote. Henry VIII nicked most of it for his Oatlands Palace in Walton