Sunday, 13 June 2010

Longford Lake in Chipstead, Kent – a good 32 miles

The village sign on the green near the lake and the pub
As far as I can remember, we haven't been to Longford Lake in Chipstead, Kent,since this blog has been in existence. It's a good run, passing the Tatsfield Bus Stop and then down the hill as if going towards Westerham, but taking the off-road route through to Westerham Hill and then crossing over and following Pilgrim's Lane all the way to Sundridge Hill.

Pilgrim's Lane is a joy to behold. It is so rural, with tall, green hedges on either side for some of the way and then open fields. We turn right at the foot of Sundridge Hill and travel along Ovenden Road before hanging a left and riding down to the crossroads that offers three choices: straight ahead for Dunton Green, left for Chevening Church or right and over the M25 for Chipstead village and the lake.

The bikes and Andy on the Longford Lake green. There is a great pub on
the green called the Bricklayer's Arms; it sells Harveys of Sussex beer.
The great thing about this ride is its relative ease; there's not much in the way of big hills and Pilgrim's Lane makes it all very smooth running. It is deceptive, though. We reached the lake at just before 9am, meaning that it's roughly the same distance as Merstham, the slow way (without the Enterdent).

The Longford Lake route has been mooted in the past as an ideal mid-morning ride, mainly because there's a pub right opposite a small green in front of the lake, perfect for a couple of pints of Harvey's of Lewes ale before the ride home, which would be pretty hard after a couple of beers. So far, however, we haven't got it together and I suspect we never will.

The weather was good throughout the trip and our conversation kind of picked up where we left off yesterday, although England's fairly dismal opening game (with Green letting in that awful equalising goal for the Americans) dominated the early chat as we headed out of Warlingham Green and on towards Botley Hill. The Lemans 24-hour race is on too and Andy's a bit of motorsport nut, a sport that I find even more boring than football.

The worse thing about the football, of course, is that Germany play Australia tonight and there's a good chance that England might meet them in the knock-out, which is bad news for England as the Germans are good. The result last night was 1-1, and, as Gordon Banks, former England keeper when, back in 1966, England did win the World Cup (it was 4-2 to us against Germany) pointed out: in 1966 we drew our first game with Uruguay – in other words, all is not lost.

Longford Lake in Chipstead Village, Kent
By the time we were on Pilgrim's Lane, the conversation had turned to gym membership and what a waste of money it was; why join a gym when you can buy a bike with the money and make the English countryside your gym?

We reached the lake and munched on our cereal bar and sipped our tea, wondering where the whiff of bacon sandwiches was coming from; we were both starving. I told Andy that if I had a few Scotch eggs and a couple of sarnies, I could just sit there by the lake all day. I couldn't, of course, because there were things to do back at home, so eventually we moved out and embarked upon the fairly exhaustive journey home.

Andy took the off-road bit to the top of Westerham Hill, while I carried on along Pilgrim's Lane and then cycled up the hill. We wanted to know which way was quickest and, as it turned out, there was very little in it. Andy got there just before me. We continued up the hill, past the Tatsfield Bus Stop towards Botley Hill where Andy took a left down The Ridge and I carried on along the B269 towards Warlingham.

I was sorely tempted to drop into the Village Café for a couple of slices of toast and some tea, but resisted and cycled home, arriving at roughly 11am.

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