Ride Report - New Ash Green
- Six of us at Cutty Sark Gardens (Paul, Ian, Chris, Kay-E, Jeff, Kathryn),
with Jane, Trevor and Andrew at Ladywell Fields. Trevor and Andrew had found
out about the ride after picking up the Greenwich Cyclists newsletter at
Cutty Sark Gardens.
Off down the Waterlink way, over the renovated bridge just south of Catford
(thanks to Lewisham's Cycling Officer) and down to Kent House where we
picked up Jurek. So ten in all up for a 50/65 mile ride early in the year
with a fair bit of climbing - our rides definitely seem to be building.
Down (well actually rather a lot of up) to Downe (watch this space for an
autumn/winter ride here) where we paused to rest before the rigours to come.
There were some calls for a coffee stop (and there is a handy farm cafe;
again, we'll go there some other time) but we had to get through a barrier,
hit lunch on time and get folk back to town by evening.
Lots of cyclists passed us (not all from behind!) as this is an
understandably popular route. Assorted pals out for a ride, The Old
Portlians (or something) and the Dulwich Paragon out on their usual Saturday
A tough climb up to Cudham before the final challenge of the North Downs,
down the other side and squeezing under a barrier on a short stretch of the
old Pilgrims Way that closes at noon on Saturdays. Then onto a longer
stretch of the Pilgrims Way after Otford all the way to Wrotham - or
"rootem" as its apparently pronounced.
Lunch at the George and Dragon - not the best beer in town but the pub is
very cyclist friendly and apparently a haunt of West Kent CTC - when I
reccied the ride the landlord even offered to keep the kitchen open after
hours for us if we phoned ahead. Two of our more delicate members chose to
sit inside - no names will be mentioned but the sharp-eyed may spot the
couple missing from the pics of us enjoying the sun outside.
After lunch, over a nasty road, a clamber up a totally unrideable bit of
bridleway (the wonderful shortcuts you can find with an Ordnance Survey map)
that brought us to some deserted country lanes. Past another pub that we may
use next time, then off into more wonderful lanes before climbing to New Ash
Green - see the web link on the ride announcement under "events" if you want
to learn more about this early attempt to build a new form of community and
keep cars at arm's length.
Trevor and Andrew left us here, apparently to pedal a modest distance to a
pub and settle in for a few pints before training it back home.
More country lanes before we eventually hit St Mary Cray. Jane and Chris
offered to lead a future cafe/cake ride before heading off back to town with
Kathryn by train. The rest of us zapped up a non-too-scenic but very useful
cycle lane which had us back in Lewisham in no time. We split just before
Blackheath, Kay-E to pedal home and contemplate his coming coast-to-coast
challenge and Jeff to get a few extra miles in for a planned Land's End to
John O Groats.
Great weather, the ride seemed appreciated. Some tough climbing early on but
most after that was fairly easy pootling down quiet country lanes. May well
do it again before the summer ends - it'll be over before you know it so get
- New Ash Green - Saturday September 29
mm. Slightly grumpy start to this report - sorry.
No-one at Cutty Sark Gardens at all for an 8:30 meet designed to give us the
best of the daylight and ensure that we didn't have to take it too quickly.
Tempted to think that it may have been the fault of the grey start to the
day that looked set for steady rain after a night's deluge. Check the
Digital Freeview rolling three-hour forecast folks or the similar thing on
the Met Office site - that would have clearly shown that the day was going
to be essentially dry.
Met up with Ian and Jack at Ladywell Fields and we were off. Stopped at
Christmas Tree Farm for a coffee. I passed as I'd already had four espressos
but nibbled on my homemade cycling snack (recipe on request) - Ian turned it
down but the Farm's Labrador seemed keen enough.
Over the North Downs to Otford, pootled along the wonderful Pilgrims' Way,
then hit Wrotham where we had sort of planned to stop at the friendly George
and Dragon for lunch but its kitchen was closed so the decision was made to
press on to The Black Horse which I'd been keen to check out anyway. Paused
in Wrotham awhile to marvel at two local newspaper teaser boards outside a
newsagents - "row over village pub strippers" read one - short debate about
whether this would increase the takers for a future ride as long as we
showed due neutrality by sourcing male strippers for a future visit. The
other side of the board - "patient's records sent to garden centre" It's all
happening in rural Kent.
Off to this ride's unique feature -a clamber up a hillside - may offer a
free beer to anyone who manages to ride this next time - kind of think my
wallet will be safe.
Not unnaturally deserted lanes at the top, then a long glide down to The
Black Horse. Now more tables, a wonderful view out of the back, decent food,
though maybe the special had succumbed slightly to the nouvelle cuisine -
that horrible product of the 80s that brought so much else to choke on. A
bit unfair - pretty good food, well cooked and well done potatoes brought
much needed cycling fuel. Jack hit the suet for afters while I savoured the
beer. We'll almost definitely come here next time. Join us do.
Up after lunch to pass the wonderfully sited and rather special war memorial
(so special the original was nicked - what you see now is a copy) then off
down some more lanes before climbing to New Ash Green. As usual, got
somewhat lost exploring here for ten minutes or so then off back to the
A wrong turning was salvaged by checking the maps and we did at least get
some nice extra riding through a wood. On to St Mary Cray, shouted at by a
yob in a slightly ageing black BMW (such nice folk the Germans - pity about
some of the folk they let drive the things) then back the new improved way
to head for Lewisham. None of us needed to get back to Cutty Sark Gardens so
we went through Hither Green, then split near Lewisham High Street.
Despite two good sociable stops, the evenly matched group had meant we had
sped along and I was back home just after half past four with the evening
ahead of me. Oh - it was dry all day and even a fair amount of blue skies
which brought the shades out.
Thanks to Ian for taking the pics after my camera packed in. If you want to
see more pics of this ride, you can check out the gallery for March 2007.
Hope to see more folk when next do this in 2008.