Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Spur-of-the-moment solo ride to Chipstead Lake...

Perfect cycling weather. A hazy sunshine. I decided to ride to Chipstead Lake for a late snack in the Bricklayer's, a Harveys of Lewes pub.
Only eagle-eyed readers will see my bike through the pub's window.

Departing at around 1230hrs I followed the usual NoVisibleLycra route up Church Way, across Sanderstead Green – otherwise known, for some reason, as The Gruffy – and along the Limpsfield Road, which, understandably, was a little busier than usual as it was a mid-week lunchtime and every man and his dog was on the road. White van men whistled past me, a heavily tattooed woman – who I initially thought was wearing patterned tights – walked on by and soon I was approaching the first official marker, Warlingham Green. I didn't stop, but continued on towards Warlingham Sainsbury's and that strange coffee shop just beyond it called Amano, which used to be a pub. Normally when I pass it's closed because it's very early in the morning, but today it was open and seemingly very busy. I've always wondered how Amano was performing in a business sense. Outside there was a blackboard announcing that the garden was open, reminding me that it was once a pub. I caught a glimpse of a gleaming servery counter as I rode past and made a mental note to pay a visit one day as it might be worth it.

Ham sandwiches, chips, salad and a pint
Soon I passed Knight's Garden Centre and the five-mile marker came into view. Ledgers Road marks the point where, if I turned back, I would ride a total of 10 miles by the time I reached home. But I was going further. I followed the 269 towards Botley Hill. There was very little traffic, but more than I was used to, so I watched and listened for signs of nutters and kept as far to the left as I could without falling onto the grass verge. Motorists round here don't like cyclists because they think they should use the cycle path provided for them. What they don't realise is that the path in question is lined with Hawthorn bushes and I was in no mood for a puncture, not at this early stage of the ride.

After a short while I found myself at Botley Hill, a kind of junction point as, from there, I could ride straight on for Oxted, turn right for Godstone or left for Westerham. I opted for the latter route and sped down Clarks Lane past the Tatsfield Bus Stop and then past the entrance to the churchyard before reaching the twisting road that leads down to Westerham. I slowed as I reached the final bend right and instead of continuing towards Westerham I branched off left and followed the Pilgrims Way. From here onwards the ride was sheer bliss.

The early part of Pilgrims Way is flanked by fields on the right and expensive detached homes set back from the road on the left, but after crossing Westerham Hill (A233) there are fields on either side and it's easy to forget where you are, and by that I mean you're never far from civilisation.

Chipstead Lake or Longford Lake? I wish I knew
After crossing Hogtrough Hill, the Pilgrims Way continues, crossing Brasted Hill and making its way to the foot of Sundridge Hill where I turned right into Ovenden Road, enjoying the warm breeze and the sunshine and green hedgerows on either side of the road, which concealed more cornfields. The Ovenden Road bears left and runs parallel to the M25 for a short while until it joins the Chevening Road. I turned left here and followed the road to Chevening Cross. I turned right and followed the road over the M25 and down into Chipstead village and the pub. It was almost 2pm.

Across from the pub there is a small green leading down to the lake. There is a sailing club on the lake and some of its members were taking advantage of the warm weather. Sailing dinghys were out in force displaying colourful sails as they weaved their way back and forth across the vast expanse of water hemmed in on all sides by trees and bushes.

Cornfields along Pilgrims Way
I padlocked the bike against a bench and went in search of a pint of beer. Harvey's Lewes Castle, a brown ale (4.8%) seemed like a good choice so I ordered one and a round of ham and mustard sandwiches. Pint in hand, I headed back to the bench to enjoy the fresh air, but I forgot how annoying eating and drinking alfresco can be, thanks to pesky wasps trying to get a swig of my pint. In fact, I decided to head back to the pub and sit inside when I spied the woman from the pub marching towards me with my food order. I stayed put for all of five minutes, but having spilt some of my pint trying to swot a wasp I decided to head indoors where I found a shaded seat by a window looking out on the lake and my bike padlocked against the bench.

The sandwiches were fantastic and so were the accompanying chips and side salad so I ordered dessert. Apple and berry crumble with a tiny jug of custard, plus another pint, and sat there reading the Daily Telegraph.

More cornfields on the Pilgrims Way
Later on, having paid the bill and finished my pint, I headed back outside to the bike and the lake and for a short while took in the atmosphere: the warm sun, the wind gently blowing in the trees. It was time to head home. I mounted the Kona and cycled out of Chipstead at a leisurely pace, which made all the difference. Back along the Chevening Road, right into Ovenden Road, left on to the Pilgrims Way. I stopped here and there to take photographs of the fields flanking Pilgrims Way, whenever there was a break in the hedgerow, and slowly made my way to the foot of the hill we normally climb out of Westerham. Soon I was passing the Tatsfield Bus Stop and within a few minutes I was sailing through Botley Hill towards Warlingham Green.

The traffic was picking up a bit. I had no idea of the time but it seemed very much like five o'clock or thereabouts as there were plenty of people eager, I'd imagine, to get home from work. Riding along the 269 I was extra vigilant where parked cars were concerned, indicating right every time I veered out into the road and then veering back at the earliest opportunity, but it wasn't too bad and soon I found myself riding through Sanderstead churchyard and then, of course, heading down Church Way.

Chipstead Village, so let's call it Chipstead Lake
From Church Way it's a downhill ride all the way home. I padlocked the bike in the garage and opened the front door of my house around 1730hrs (1733hrs to be precise). All was quiet so here I am letting you all know what I've been doing all afternoon.

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