Monday, August 31, 2020
Officially it was late summer but most came dressed for autumn. After days of heavy rain, overcast, dry and a northerly breeze was the recipe of the day.
Five and more years of over familiar roads suggested it was time for a train assisted ride. Two at Surbiton (Graham, Tony) became three at Woking (Pam) and five (Dave and Bernard from Buckland, a rare visitor) when we detrained at Winchfield. We needed the Basingstoke to get us to 11s (Lodge Farm on OS maps) where Ray joined.
The cafe had reduced seating (in use) but takeaways were on offer and accepted. The A287 links the M3 to I know not where and was heavy with traffic. But our turnoff was immediate (Mill Lane) past two fords and back onto the Basingstoke where we stopped briefly at Odiham (King John’s) Castle and Greywell Tunnel (open only to bats).Paradoxically next came the high of the day before a steady descent took us past the isolated final remnants of the canal.
Dave had cycled from home so left us in Old Basing where two changes of light were needed to get us across the high speed A33 crossroad. When first I passed this way over 40 years a lane led through open fields; not anymore! It exists only as cycle path sections (flanked by newer roads and housing and guarded by double metal barriers at each crossing). We continued through Cufaude and Bramley to lunch at the Calleva Arms Silchester which attracts cyclists (and others); no problems with food.
Just before one we turned back the hands of time to visit the Roman Calleva remains (walls, amphitheatre). The next few miles yielded two more fords and fewer(!) cars. Once again the A33 crossing was alarming. Sometime later we passed through Rotherwick where Tony once schooled.
As I turned into Hook’s station yard our train was slowing down. A sprint onto the platform and the closed doors of the last carriage were hastily thrown open. Pam and Tony tumbled in after me leaving Bernard and Ray to wonder where they’d parked their cars.
Of no relevance to the ride Fassett road Kingston was staging a street party with live music. No obstacle to me so I kept on pedaling.
One canal, one castle, one Roman city, four fords – not a bad haul from 37+ lumpy miles door to door.
Monday, August 24, 2020
An excellent turn-out at elevenses. Graham, Pam, Tony, Ray W, Steve D, Liz, Jill and Ed joined me for the ride, enough riders for two small groups to be needed. Bob, Maureen, Lilian and Terry went home.
We took a rather quirky route, skirting Shepperton and Ashford, and, after Stanwell, suddenly emerging onto the Heathrow Western Perimeter cycle route, which offers interesting views of the airport. A couple of miles later, and just round the corner, our arrival in Longford was like being transported back in time. The White Horse pub looked very inviting, providing you dodged the low beams, and we were very warmly welcomed. There was a very good range of food at all prices, including sandwiches and baguettes (unusual these days on a Sunday), and very attractive surroundings. We'll definitely be visiting again.
Sadly, we had to drag ourselves away before the band started their session! A mile or so north east we found Harmondsworth, a very attractive village (what a shame it would be if the third runway does ever cause these delightful places to be bulldozed). Tony Hopkins (whose birthday it was) kindly showed us the sights (the grave of the father of the Coxes Orange Pippin and the Barnes-Wallis memorial).
Just on the off-chance, we made a detour to the third attraction, the medieval long barn, fully expecting to find it shut, but, to our surprise, it was open and we were given a very informative guided tour by an English Heritage volunteer. Very interesting and highly recommended!
Then we struck out towards Sipson, and on south to pick up the Heathrow Eastern perimeter road towards Hatton Cross, passing an endless row of doomed BA jumbo jets on the other side of the road. The final distraction of the day was the rather surreal yew topiary at Bedfont church, then it was on to Walton Bridge and tea or straight home.
Many thanks to all for your company, to Graham for leading the second group, and to Tony for local knowledge.
Thursday, August 20, 2020
Sunday 30 August - As per Graham's item below, the ride is changed from the published programme, and the Claygate elevenses meet is cancelled.
Wednesday, August 19, 2020
Hopefully the last survey! I didn't escape showers completely but Tuesday's weather was likely to be better than Wednesday's.
UPDATE Revised train details as service doesn't stop at intermediate stations between Surbiton and Woking.
As previously announced the train-assisted ride will start at Winchfield and finish at Hook. There are no 'real' hills but it's not flat. Early on there are 2.5 miles on two bumpy sections alongside the Basingstoke canal; the rest is on-road.
Start(1009hrs) Winchfield station SU763545
11s 4 miles Newlyns Farm Shop Cafe SU735526
(or Conkers Hatch SU675520)
Lunch 13 miles Calleva Arms Silchester SU625621
(or Red Lion Mortimer SU634641)
Tea 13+ miles Hartlett Cafe SU730544 but closes at 1500
(or Tesco beside station (Costa,Krispy) SU726539)
Finish Train services depart at 23 minutes past the hour
The train service is hourly on Sundays. During the week it's 12 car with plenty of space for bikes and toilets. Dave has hinted that he'll ride to the start so I'm giving you an extra hour in bed. The preferred service is 0930 Surbiton. From intermediate stations change at Woking. Hook return costs £14.10(£9.30 with railcard). NB On a bike there's no "safe" route between the start and finish except by train.
If travelling by car, you could park in Hook or near/at 11s. From the first roundabout south of Hook a rough LH footpath runs alongside the A287. The second roundabout takes you over the M3 motorway junction 5. Just before the third roundabout (layby), the path disappears into trees but soon emerges on the old(?) road. We'll cross here to North Wanborough on dropped pavements.
Sunday, August 16, 2020
As I sat down to my elevenses, rather looking forward to the coffee and Smarties cookie I had just bought, I chanced to remark an absence of fellow riders. Probably I was just early, but I thought I had better double-check on the rides list. Elevenses was at Cobham, it turned out, but I was at Weybridge! Never mind, half an hour and a scolded throat later and I was reunited with the rest of the group (Graham, Bob, Simon, Tony, Ray, Pam and Ged).
Next problem, where to go for lunch (my tentative plans having been based on a Weybridge start)? Group-think soon came up with Pirbright, and we set off for there (minus Bob and Simon) via Ockham and Send. As we came to the end of Send Hill, about to turn right towards Cartbridge, I had one of my unfortunate brainwaves - a sudden recollection that there was a footpath from Send Church to Sutton Green which might be rideable. I consulted Graham, who knew the route, and he led us off. Broadly, the path was rideable, although in places it was just a deep rut, so narrow that it was impossible to turn the cranks. The scooting motion required must have been akin to that of the early pioneers of cycling riding pedal-less 'hobby horses'.
The brambles and nettles weren't too much of a problem, providing you were wearing socks! Then there was the bridge over the River Wey. This must have been designed for SAS training, I think, with very deep concrete steps and a sharp turn onto the narrow bridge deck, making it very difficult to manoeuvre our bikes up and over.
After the challenges of the bridge, the stile which came next was child's play.
After that, we were soon back on tarmac, heading through Sutton Green, Mayfield and Hook Heath to Pirbright.
Our pub of choice, The Cricketers, was closed (but re-opening the next day), so we had to settle for The White Hart. At first sight the menu choices didn't offer much for our needs, but the starters and pre-starters actually offered some good options, and the garden was spacious, pleasant and not crowded. Table service meant a bit of a wait to settle up, but we got away by 2.00 pm, with time to pay a quick visit to the grave of H M Stanley in the nearby churchyard - very appropriate given the jungle-like conditions we had encountered on the outbound route!
From there the route back was through Bisley, West End, Fellow Green, Chobham and Stonehill, where Ray left us. Rain threatened as we passed through Addlestone, and it was raining hard soon after I left the others at Weybridge. No tea stop at Walton Bridge for me as I had to tend to my pumpkins!
Thanks to all for your company and forbearance, and thanks once again to Graham for route advice
Sunday, August 09, 2020
Phew, what a scorcher! Actually, the first part of the morning wasn't too unpleasant, and Bob, Simon, Tony, Pam, Liz, Ray, Graham, Terry and I met for elevenses in the shade at The Wilde Brunch, Walton Bridge.
Given the likely heat later on, it was difficult to choose a lunch stop not too far away, but enough to give us at least a bit of a ride. I mentioned a few places randomly, including Thorpe, and Simon suggested a route using a path alongside Thorpe Park.
Simon didn't actually join us for the ride to lunch (Terry and Bob also made their excuses), which was a little ominous, but the remaining six of us set off on a trip into the unknown (well, unknown to me, anyway). From the outskirts of Chertsey we rode on very minor roads, tracks and paths (Willow Walk, Ferry Lane, and Monks Walk), at the mercy of Viewranger, passing by lakes, crossing numerous bridges, hearing the screams from the rides at Thrope Park, and eventually, emerging from the shade, mole-like and blinking, as if by magic, in the middle of Thorpe village. To get a few more miles in, we continued to Great Fosters then took the cycle route along the very narrow Hurst Lane to arrive right by the Rose & Crown at Thorpe Green.
We had a very friendly welcome at the pub and were able to take our bikes into the garden with us. There was plenty of space and an outside bar, so we'd certainly visit again.
The heat really was building by the time lunch was over, so it was a straight route (well, barring a minor diversion to skirt the roadworks at Weybridge), all on tarmac, to tea back at Walton Bridge.
Thanks to all for your company, to Simon for the suggestion, and to Tony and Graham for navigational assistance.