Monday, 1 August 2011

Why use one bench when you can use two?

At the Tatsfield Churchyard – making maximum use of the facilities.

We hadn't had a disagreement, but there were two benches – three if you include our usual bench, which was covered in bird poo – so we made the very best use of the facilities.

In case you hadn't guessed, we were in the Tatsfield Churchyard – see previous post for this destination's rating.

Cycling Destinations rated

We were sitting in the Tatsfield Churchyard yesterday (Sunday 31 July) discussing our cycling venues and decided we should rate them. So, here goes...

Sitting outside the Botley Hill Farmhouse pub.
Botley Hill - a generic term for the area surrounding the Botley Hill Farmhouse pub, but normally it means the roundabout a little further along the road.

Convenience: 10/10 – our shortest route can easily be rounded off in just over an hour.
Cover: 5/10 – little cover, but there is a shady car park with strong tree cover during the summer.
Distance: Roughly a 14-mile round trip.
Verdict: A good default cycle route but if it's raining there's nowhere to hide.

Andy and yours truly in Chevening Churchyard
Chevening Church - adjacent to Chevening House in Kent and one of our longer rides.

Convenience: 6/10 - one of our longer rides and on a par in distance terms with Longford Lake and Hunger's End (easily a 32-mile round trip.
Cover: 6/10 - standing room only by the covered gateway to the churchyard.
Distance: A 32-mile round trip.
Verdict: A pleasant place, but a long ride.

Godstone Green at the beginning of the summer.
Godstone Greenan occasional destination and we like it, but the problem is a huge hill on the return journey.

Convenience: 8/10 – if it wasn't for that hill, we'd probably go there more frequently as the route is scenic.
Cover: 8/10 – there is cover, but it's across the green and you have to stand up as there's no bench.
Distance: Not properly recorded
Verdict: A great place with a pleasant lake and a café if we need it.

Longford Lakes - definitely the most picturesque of our destinations, but a long ride.

Longford Lake.
Convenience:  6/10 - mainly because of the distance. Like Chevening Church and Hunger's End, its a long one.
Cover: 0/10 - very exposed and nowhere to hide from the weather, unless the pub is open.
Distance: a good 32-mile round trip.
Verdict: nice on a pleasant day as there's an excellent Harveys of Lewes pub.

Jon and Andy outside Hunger's End, Merstham.
MersthamA Surrey village just outside of the M25 near Redhill. Fairly pleasant place and there's a railway station if we feel lazy.

Convenience: 7/10 – it's a long ride, which means returning home around 11am and this can cause friction and the return trip is hilly and can be tiresome.
Cover: 10/10 – plenty of cover if you're really stuck and there's always Hunger's End, the caff.
Distance: 32 to 34 miles in total.
Verdict: A caff, a railway station, a music shop and an eccentric man who shaves in public – in short a great place to be.

Andy at the Tatsfield Bus Stop.
The Tatsfield Bus StopOn the outskirts of Tatsfield on the junction with Clarks Lane and Approach Road.

Convenience: 9/10 – just a little further than Botley Hill, but well worth it because of the bus stop.
Cover: 9/10 – a great bus stop. Unlike the Tatsfield Village bus stop, the side panels are solid wood, hence it scores one extra point.
Distance: 16-miles round trip.
Verdict: Arguably the best covered bus stop in the area. We've sheltered here from the snow and rain in the past.

Andy at the Tatsfield Churchyard.
Tatsfield Churchyarda peaceful churchyard on the outskirts of Tatsfield village.

Convenience: 9/10 – a little further than Botley Hill, but a downhill cycle from Botley down Clarks Lane.
Cover: 5/10 – in the summer, the trees might help and there is a wooden and covered gateway, but generally, you're exposed.
Distance: 16.5-mile round trip.
Verdict: If it's not raining, a great place to be: it's peaceful and scenic and puts things in perspective.

The pond at Tatsfield Village.
Tatsfield VillageA pleasant village with green, pond and pub.

Convenience: 9/10 – not as far as Tatsfield Churchyard, but there's not much in it.
Cover: 8/10 – a wooden bus stop would provide excellent shelter from the rain AND there's a shop where we once bought teabags, having run out, so it's a great place in a crisis – in our world, no teabags is a crisis. The side panels of the bus stop, however, have been knocked out to provide 'windows'.
Distance: 16.5-mile round trip.
Verdict: A good destination, but there's always that danger of having to converse with chirpy locals passing the bus stop en route to the newsagents.

Vintage car on the green at Westerham.
Westerhama Northern Kent village famed for being the home of Sir Winston Churchill. Hotels and coffee shops abound.

Convenience: 9/10 – for a long while in the early days it was our default ride. A good 22-miler there and back and pleasant in decent weather.
Cover: 6/10 – none really. Plenty of benches but they're all exposed and while there are shops and a hotel, the bikes would need to be left outside, unattended and unpadlocked.
Distance: 22-mile round trip.
Verdict: A great place that we need to visit more often.

Jon in the snow at Woodmansterne Green
Woodmansterne Green a nice place once you get there, but a boring, suburban ride so not a regular haunt of ours.

Convenience: 9/10 – roughly 12 miles all told and it takes around 30 minutes to reach it through suburban streets.
Cover: 7/10 – no cover on the green but there is a church across the road and we've often sought refuge under the gateway in torrential rain.
Distance: 12-mile round trip.
Verdict: If it wasn't for the boring ride, it would be a great place to visit, but we like scenic, rural routes the best.