Saturday 16th March, solo off road* Wilde Brunch Walton Bridge

An unusual Saturday ride for me today. *With Surrey most probably in chaos due to the first ever full closure of the M25, I decided that the last thing I was going to try was to get to Nonsuch to meet the club run. Instead a cunning plan was hatched by Adam Domaingue to make the elevenses stop somewhere I could get to from home in Berkshire.

So today, the start for yours truly was at Virginia Water/Thorpe Village and then to the trails into Surrey thus avoiding any possible gridlock. The day was bright and sunny, but not yet with much heat and hovering around 8°C. I set off not knowing which route would be of use, for Chertsey has been on ‘Flood alert’ for a number of weeks. From my previous explorations I know a lot of the trails can be ankle deep this time of year, so it was a real, ‘suck it and see’ day regarding my route.

I headed through sleepy Thorpe Village and onto a trail that is sandwiched between two large lakes. To the left of me was Thorpe Park with rollercoasters rumbling away, empty and on test for their opening at Easter. I stopped briefly to study the construction of a new rollercoaster built on top of the old 15” miniature railway station site that closed in 2011. The trail was boggy and I could tell from the hired-in temporary pumps that the Thorpe Park site had flooding recently  and that had also encompassed the route I was cycling  on.

I slithered my way up onto the footbridge and stopped to enjoy the view. These are deep old quarry lakes and are perfect for the water skiers etc. After these pleasant views the not so pleasant first crossing of the M3 overbridge to take me into the outskirts of Chertsey, and some possible backtracking due to flooded routes. I made it through the park in Chertsey that forms part of National Cycle Route Four. The Bourne Brook in this area had burst its banks, but was just passable.

After this there’s a little industrial estate and right at the bottom of the road a tiny connection to a residential, rear garage access driveway. This comes out at the side of the houses and put me neatly and briefly onto the  A337 Weybridge Road.  Another trail running alongside a big school, busy with Saturday football practice, took me onto Chertsey Meadows, south side of the Thames. The meadow I found was flooded and impassable, so I diverted over Chertsey Bridge and followed a route up and over the M3 for a second time. After a quick check for flooding at the bottom of the bridge embankment I went down alongside the M3 before cutting diagonally away and once again found myself between another two large lakes.

Beyond this second narrow strip of land a right turn had me heading for Shepperton/Lower Halliford, but not before my third and final crossing of the M3 via another over-bridge. I was rapidly approaching Walton Bridge, only a mile or so to go when I noticed that I was surprisingly running earlier than I thought. I arrived at the Wilde Brunch Cafe at 10:35hrs, way too early to expect the club to be there and with the bonus of dry feet!

The club eventually arrived around 11:10hrs, by then I’d tucked into my cheese and ham baguette. First to appear was Bill Martin and his good lady wife, followed by Adam ‘Leader’ Domaingue, Dave ‘Pussy Cat Face’ Clarke, Ed Pegg, Trevor Kite and Tracy Caudle.  Much banter and food later everyone except me headed east, whilst I headed west for Berkshire.

My route back followed the Thames Tow Path Southside towards Weybridge and  crossed over Lock One at the mouth of the Wey Navigation before backtracking through Chertsey. I avoided the boggy stuff on the trail past Thorpe Park opting for the road to get back to the car park arriving back at the car around 1345hrs. Much to my irritation Strava had gone to sleep at the cafe, probably due to the longer than usual time spent at the stop. So apologies, I’ve crudely drawn in my return route by hand!

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