Forest Row Bike Club

Ride Report

Saxon Shore 14/9/2009

A cycle-ride to Edenbridge; a chat on the platform with an elderly man who was on his way to Chatham Naval Museum, in the old Dockyard; a chat on the train with a young, young fellow (just 18 months young) who was being taken to play with a three-year-old cousin; a coffee on the train to Canterbury, and the morning paper. And amiable beginning.

Then we rode along the Cod and Winkle route to Whitstable. Along the way, we noticed the Norweigan flag flying over the Kent School (close to the University). Ah, I wondered, a recollection, a celebration of the Norse connexion. (That connexion, remember, was a bloody one; it was a long time ago though.) An exploration of Whitstable; a contemplation of the sea: a great deal of it; active wind turbines out to sea; land somewhere over the sea, indistinct but we assumed it must be France and as I'd read that there were wind turbines off the Dutch coast we reckoned that we were also close to Holland.

We headed for Herne Bay. Ah, think wind; think strong wind; think strong wind coming from nine or ten o'clock or 11 o'clock as we cycled. Hard cycling. Bracing cycling. The route - path seems too narrow a word - had a 1950s or 1960s look: concrete which gleamed, no doubt when first it was laid but now was showing its dark age.

Hello Herne Bay. We cycled along the windy front; we noticed the Pier Pavilion and, further out to sea, on its own, what once might have been the end of a longer pier. From the options, we chose the Pie and Mash shop, and our selection was vindicated. An honest plate of cottage pie, with peas, and gravy, together with a cuppa (sic) tea. We cleared our plates. A short discussion led to an order for one spotted dick and one roly-poly, both with custard. Having gone so far up the mountain, we were ready to attack the peak. Alas, the news was of a spillage of custard in the kitchen. Dry spotted dick, dry roly-poly.

An hour after we entered the Pie and Mash restaurant, we were cycling to Reculver, the point where, long ago, the Romans landed and where the fort which the Romans built had been converted to a monastery. The ruin, on the edge of the cliff, was our aiming-point. Continue to think wind, as you follow us along the foot of the cliffs. Follow us as we lifted the bikes up a set or iron steps almost to the top and a further set of concrete steps to the flat lands from which, we reckoned, a sea-captain observed the wide Thames estuary each day from the nearby white-washedReculver towers turret, (itself part of a house). Down a grassy slope to Reculver, to the remains of the fort, of the monastery.

We had the one thought: it was a perfect place for a picnic.

From Reculver, we rode through the village of Reculver along the quiet road to Broad Oak an then to Sturry; the ride brought us back to the railway station. And so to Edenbridge and the ride to East Grinstead.

An Away Day for for the Forest Row Bike Club. Cycling in a group of two, in three, perhaps in four is easy enough. There will be room for the bikes on the trains. Getting ten bicyles on a train from Edenbridge to Tonbridge and from Tonbridge to Canterbury (or other station in the area) could be difficult. And the trains are not so frequent that it's possible to say 'Take the next train and we'll wait'.

Meanwhile, David and I are thinking of the next day-ride in the far east. We want to continue the route from Reculver round the coast to Margate, Ramsgate, and down to Sandwich, where we think we will stop for a sandwich.


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