Sunday, 26 June 2011

A new path to a new world...

Andy and I posing for a self-timed shot at the bottom of the path.
A new world? What are you on? Yes, I know, it's only a bridleway and it's just down the road from a huge supermarket and we're not a million miles from London. I know. And it's not a case of 'little things please little minds, although I guess it could be in that ballpark somewhere along the line, especially at the moment, what with me being jobless and up against it. No, the reason for such elation, such over-the-top attitude, is that we found a new route, a new place to drink our tea and it turns out to be a haven of solitude, the sort of place you'd never find in a car – only on a bike.

The bikes against a pointlessly located gate similar to the one we'd just clambered over.
We were on our way to the Tatsfield Village with its predictable surroundings: the pub, the covered bus stop, the silent pond, the houses, the shop, that weird sculpture and, of course, the people in their 4x4s, driving a few yards to get a newspaper. But then, as we rode up the beginnings of the rural part of the B269, I suggested we turn left into Ledgers Road and go to the spot at the bottom of Hesiers Hill instead.

Me showing Andy how it's done – flicking a teabag.
For some reason, it's a sport I'm particularly good at.
But we never got there; halfway along the road, I spied a shaded track and we decided to investigate. The path descended fast and the bikes picked up speed, but neither of us expected ramps – speed bumps – but there they were, crafted out of mud and invisible until we hit them. Fortunately we managed to slow down enough before making contact with the first one and from then onwards we were cautious, and rightly so. There were more and in many ways, slowing down was good as the shaded path with it's uprooted trees and fields on either side was quite pleasant.

My crash helmet on a post.
At the bottom, there was one of those wooden contraptions to climb over, with the bikes, but on the other side, the countryside opened up and I found myself thinking how fantastic it all was – all I could hear was the birds tweeting, the bees buzzing and nothing else. Peace. I started thinking about coming here again, during the week, perhaps, with a can or two of Stella, a few sandwiches and a newspaper. What a spot! To be honest, both of us realised that, without commitments, we could happily spend the day here just lounging about, reading, drinking, whatever, the solitude was amazing and I get the feeling that not a lot of people come this way.

I won't even explain what this is, as it's self-explanatory, don't you think?
We considered following the path upwards over a hill and probably, ultimately, into Tatsfield or out on to the Beddlestead Lane. For some reason, I got a little confused. I knew that the road at the top of the path was Ledgers Road, but I kept thinking it was Beddlestead Lane and would lead us down to the spot at the bottom of Hesiers Hill. I was wrong. Eventually we climbed back along the path, on foot and pushing the bikes (it was steep and those speed humps would have been a real pain going up hill) until we reached the top. We turned right and travelled along to what I thought would be the bottom of Hesiers. It turned out to be the top and then I realised how close-by we were to civilisation.

Summer skies and rolling hills – all you need is a bike and a flask of tea.
It was a short ride, but an inspiring one and we'll definitely be returning to what is arguably the best destination of them all – but only in the good weather.

All photos by Andy Smith.


  1. I think you two are just a ride or two away from discovering a whole new reason to ride out to the most nowhere place you can get to, and doing nothing! I discovered riding gravel roads here and have enjoyed every minute of the solitude they afford. 25 miles of desolate gravel is the best therapy for anything. Nice depth of field on the crash hat and the tea mug shots! Your Summer skies look like our Autumn skies. At the rate this year is passing it won't be long before Autumn skies are here. Keep on rolling! Gravelo. PS Any likes for LeTour this year? Love to see Cadel Evans win this year.

  2. PPS You wouldn't believe the coincidental similarities in the names of roads and geographic areas between here and there. Just yesterday I road a rare(for me) paved road loop to a state park here, part of which has a section of road called "Ledges Road"! Sevenoaks/ Seven Oaks type of thing.

  3. Perhaps one day, we'll come over there and ride some of your routes and then, whenever you're over here, come and ride with us too.