Saturday 10th February, off road Garson’s Farm Garden Centre

Eight riders turned out for today’s perambulation: Ed Pegg, Bill Kent, Dave Elliott, Sean Slammon, Trevor Hughes, Tracy Caudle, Trevor Kite and myself leading. Given the size of the group I had to move the tea stop venue as the cafe in Thames Ditton was unlikely to have had the space.

The Met Office forecast was dry and intermittent sunshine. We got overcast and intermittent drizzle, well at least they got the ‘intermittent’ bit right! Our route out took us past the newly constructed Hogsmill River water meadow, or in layman’s terms, ‘Summer doggie swimming pond for the locals!’ Then I avoided Horton Country Park due to the 30mm of rain dumped over Surrey Thursday/Friday morning and headed for Chessington South and across the A24 to Barwell’s Farm.

We descended onto Claygate Common, all very slippy-slidy stuff and then onto Esher Common and bogs of doom. The recent heavy rain had turned my chosen route into marshy bog, and you never knew at each puddle how deep the front wheel was going to go. We slowly ploughed our way through and regrouped at a rise further on.

Tracy had a ‘mechanical’ whilst in the soggy, boggy bit with a chain stuck fast between her chainrings. This necessitated a bit of walking and paddling to the group waiting a hundred yards or so further on. This dampened her spirits a little, but she cheered up when some of the best mechanical minds in the club released the chain and she was mobile again, albeit with slightly damp feet.

We crossed the old A3 Portsmouth Road then pumped our way up a short, steep ascent and took a short breather on the top of West End Common to look at the views of the River Mole in flood below, before our slow, muddy, slippery descent to Garson’s Farm garden centre cafe. At the car park I observed their overflow car park was overflowing with H2O, which the swans were enjoying immensely.

At the cafe I couldn’t help notice a couple of staff glance at the eight of us as we walked in with half of Surrey stuck to our boots. The venue was warm, the food was good and the group was happily tucking into it.

The return journey I had planned I altered slightly due to conditions and instead took us up through a posh, private estate that avoids the centre of Esher. It was then the usual iggy-wiggy route through Thames Ditton onto Littleworth Common and through various trails in the burbs of Claygate to get us back to Chessington South. At Horton Country Park Trevor Hughes and I parted with the group and headed back towards the car park where I was parked  and Trevor headed off two minutes beyond for home.

Good ride lady and gentlemen, just under twenty-five miles for me.

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