Dave Rapson, Bill Martin, Mick Curtis, Rohan Dubash, Phil Bull, Gareth and I turned up at our leader Dave Repson’s designated start point at Nonsuch Mansion at 09.30hrs. The weather was warm and sunny with very little in the way of a breeze and so the mood was relaxed. So relaxed, it was decided that partaking of tea and coffee would be a nice idea before departing and so we did!
Our route took us out in the general direction of the Hogsmill River with various little loops through the bluebells, which generated much oohing and ahhing from some in the group at the lovely flowers basking in the dappled sunlight. We crossed the back of Horton Park and onto Ashtead Common. Then just for variety we cut back across the fields by Rushett Farm (near Malden Rushett traffic lights), crossed the Leatherhead Road and headed straight through the middle of the busy Chessington World of Adventures site for a descent known to us as ‘The Vampire’. The knarly downhill route was negotiated by all without incident, although Rohan discovered a few hours later that some damage to his rear shock was probably caused by said ‘Vampire’.
We traversed Sixty Acre Wood and into Prince’s Coverts crossing the Oxshott Road heading out west towards Stoke D’Abernon. Soon we were out beyond Cobham, getting closer to Ockham Common and elevenses by the minute. We crossed the bridge over the M25 and admired all the poor people stuck in their little metal boxes in the Bank Holiday traffic and prepared for the spirited short and sharp climb of Telegraph Hill.
At the top of Telegraph Hill Dave Rapson suggested we get a group shot, everyone thought it was a good idea, probably more to catch their breath than to be part of a ‘Kodak Moment’! A little back trail down to the cafe stop was used which had us snaking backward and forwards avoiding deep erosion gullies, far too deep to peddle in, and soon we arrived to see Barry Gregory sitting at a table relaxing in the sunshine.
After elevenses Dave handed over the lead to me for the return trip and we added Barry Gregory to the happy group of wanderers.
Our route took us up and over the A3 and onto Wisley Common as far as Wisley Bridge where we took a bridle path along the river and under the M25 into the southernmost tip of Byfleet. We were not in Byfleet long before climbing another bridge back over the M25 taking us neatly onto the towpath of the Way Navigation. After that it was simply ‘follow the cut’ all the way to the Thames at Weybridge and head north towards Walton on Thames. Barry Gregory parted company with us in Weybridge and headed from there for home.
We left the sunny, but busy Thames side path just north of the bridge and started to head east around the southern side of Queen Elizabeth Reservoir, using two newly discovered bridleways I’d found recently that come out on to the River Ember in Thames Ditton. We threaded our way through the residential back streets of Thames Ditton and after crossing the Portsmouth Road at Esher headed once again off-road over Littleworth Common and onto Arbrook Common.
The warm Sunny afternoon made some of us a little thirsty and so the suggestion of a stop at Brightwater Breweries, smallest pub in the UK, ‘Platform Three’ at Claygate Station, was gratefully received. Alas the group had to split due to evening commitments and only Paul, Bill and Dave were able to enjoy the light refreshment and pleasant conversation with other thirsty patrons.
All too soon we were on our way again heading across Claygate Common towards Chessington South passing along the bridleway near Barwell Farm where the previous weekend my rear shock had spectacularly failed. All was well and we headed into Horton Park and roughly retraced our steps back through Ewell where the last three parted company for home.
Total mileage 42 miles.