Hoo Peninsula MTB ride 6th May 2017

Seven riders found their way to Higham Station in Kent for Brian Harris’ Hoo Peninsula exploration.

Paul W, Ev Q and Dave E travelled across and met with Big Dave R, Brian H, Mike C and arriving neatly just a couple of minutes before the off was Caroline H with her ‘Origami bike.’

The weather was overcast and a strong gusting wind of around 15mph for the NNE told us all straight away it was going to be a bit of a slog for the first part of the day before the return part of the route.

Our trip took us out NW through Cliffe Pools Nature Reserve in a loop around the many lakes there and in amongst the thousands of birds that were nesting there.

After around half an hour we got to the Thames Estuary and stopped for a group picture. It was at this point Dave E noticed a problem with a stuck rear hydraulic disk brake that was refusing to release and required gentle prising apart of the pads to aid his pedalling efforts.

At this point Caroline had to head back home to go put a posh frock on, go to work and play some nice music for the masses and so she said her goodbye’s and left us fellows to explore further.

Again after around two miles Dave E’s troublesome rear brake was getting no better so it was decided the best course of action was to remove the disk completely from the wheel and just have a front brake. The effect of this was immediate as Dave shot off up the road like Bradley Wiggins and was fine for the rest of the day.

We left the Nature Reserve and headed NE towards the town of Cliffe and then we were on National Route 179 which we used a fair amount for the rest of the ride should you wish to look it up on the map. The route passes the ruins of Cooling Castle and we stopped just around the corner at Cooling Church for a look inside. Cooling Church for those who aren’t aware was Charles Dickens’ inspiration for the scene in “Great Expectations” where Pip meets the escaped convict in the church yard.

After this we headed towards High Halstow and found a sharp little climb, Lipwell Hill, to get to it. I was rather surprised to be the first to the top, but more concerned that Brian H had not been tapping up alongside me, for what did he know was coming ahead that I didn’t?!!

I found out soon enough after we decended a little and swung around the corner, for there was a shorter but even steeper little hill that caused me a little fast breathing for a minute or so.

At High Halstow we decided that despite the strong NE gusting wind we were going to head over to the north coast to the holiday resort of Allhallows. We followed the Ratcliffe Highway for around four miles with the wind in our faces all the way. This caused the group to break up little with the wind sapping some legs, but the energy was soon put back with tea and sandwiches at the holiday camp cafe.

The Allhallows holiday camp sits right on the  side of the Thames Estuary so afforded some nice fresh sea air (some would say just a little bit too fresh that day! PW) and views across to Canvey Island and Southend beyond. By this time we had started to see the sun and the cloud was thinning. After our stop the ride became easier as the head wind was now on our backs as we headed to the south side of the peninsula on the Stoke Road to Hoo St Werburgh.  It was a nice little town that seemed to be surprisingly quiet for a Saturday afternoon!

Next stop and now only around four miles from the starting point was the road past Chattenden Barracks, a Royal Engineers site. The ride turned left at the bottom of a nice long descent and onto Bunters Hill Road which took us neatly back to our starting point at Higham Station.

Total miles: @28

Thanks to Brian H for his organisation and research, I for one as with all the riders who took part that day look forward to exploring the area some more in the not too distant future.

Paul W

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