As I continue to battle with my knee problems, Round The Bend blogging has been noticeably limited. I recently started to cycle from home again for a while but found the topography too much (getting home requires a few climbs) and after a rest have reverted to riding short circuits in the nearby countryside again; it’s not that I can’t cycle up the hills, it’s just that my knees don’t like it afterwards. At the moment I therefore don’t know where my cycling is going to go in the future. Local rides of even 20 to 30 miles are a distant memory and I wonder if I’ll ever tour again? I find this a depressing thought. I have no choice but to continue with short country rides and hope that in time things will get better.
This week the early autumn weather in the UK has been wonderful, with warm days and clear sunny skies. Cycling in these conditions has been very enjoyable and I decided to document a favourite ride that I undertook only a few days ago for the first time since my operation; I was concerned about some of the terrain but taking it slowly managed OK. Normally this route would form part of various longer rides from home but nonetheless on this occasion it formed a very attractive ride in its own right.
Men’s Olympic road race 2012, shortly before the start of Box Hill climb outside Denbies vinyard
As usual the circuit starts nearby in Leigh, where I’m able to easily park the car and then set off on the Joey folding bike through some of Surrey’s best scenery. Unfortunately since the 2012 Olympics everyone else thinks so too and at weekends you can’t move for wannabe racers on their new carbon fibre steeds. Luckily weekdays are better, though it’s still noticeable that the number of cyclists has increased even then. It’s not just that newbies that have been spurred on by British cycling success in general but this area played a central part of the Olympic road race, which in particular included the Box Hill climb. Try cycling up Box Hill on a sunny Saturday morning now and I am surprised they’re not selling tickets just to control the numbers. It’s a free world and, of course, it’s good that so many have taken to the road on their bikes but it really has almost reached a point of madness. My ride skirts the area adjacent to Box Hill.
Starting outside Leigh church, the ride goes counter-clockwise via Trumpet Hill & Betchworth to Brockham, back to the starting point and finally a short clockwise circuit south of Leigh.
1. Flanchford Road bridge over the River Mole; 2. Trumpet Hill; 3. Wonham Mill; 4. Wonham Manor; 5. Betchworth Blacksmiths; 6. Leigh cricket club.
In all the circuit is just over 11 miles but taking it slowly made me appreciate and enjoy the ride all the more. Although I’ve ridden these roads literally hundreds of times, this time it was one of the best 11 miles I have ever cycled.
Start of ride outside St Bartholomew’s church in Leigh
15th century St Bartholomew’s church next to the village green in Leigh
Located on Leigh Green outside the church is a History Box: a traditional red telephone box with a number of photos and related explanations documenting the history of the village – good idea.
View north from Little Flanchford farm with the North Downs in the background
Flanchford Road bridge over the River Mole was substantially damaged by floods in 2014 and awaits permanent repair. In the meantime the downstream side is cordoned off by barriers and a weight and width limit has been imposed.
The start of Trumpet Hill Road marks what is probably the best section of the ride; thankfully the hill goes downwards at this location.
A few hundred metres west of Trumpet Hill I have often found this always well tended patch of grass covered with rabbits early in the morning.
Shortly afterwards the ride passes Wonham Mill, built in 1740 and situated on Shag Brook. Until recently this was a working mill but regrettably has now been converted into luxury apartments. Much of this road is lined with multi-million pound houses, reflecting its desirability: attractive countryside and just 23 miles from central London.
The deer park at Wonham Manor.
Just before the end of Wonham Lane (previously Trumpet Hill Road) the road runs alongside a beautiful stretch of the Mole River, which often floods in winter.
Betchworth Blacksmiths: still working and literally from another era.
View of Brockham over the recently ploughed fields, with Leith Hill in the distance. Just one week later it was green with the emerging new shoots of winter wheat.
Brockham ‘Big Field’, home of Dorking Rugby Club with Box Hill in the background.
Main bridge into Brockham
Pole up! Brockham is known for its Guy Fawkes night bonfire and fireworks night held on the village green. The main pole around which the bonfire is built has just been erected and the construction is underway using garden material from local gardens.
Ploughed fields looking towards Gadbrook Road, one of my favourite roads in the area but unfortunately not part of this ride.
Looking from the short final circuit, this delightful section of road leads to the Round The Bend picture at the front of this blog.
The wheat stubble glows in the autumn sun just south of Leigh, forming an attractive scene.
On the home stretch passing Leigh cricket club located in a quintissential English setting.
It is a very beautiful area and, as they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder. Struggling to get back to cycling has increased the value of what I can now do, albeit still limited and, I hope with continued perseverance will return me to cycling and maybe even touring eventually? I am sure that with such wonderful conditions anybody would recognize the beauty of this short ride, however, for me it was really uplifting and hopefully marks a road back to cycling sanity.