Saturday 24th February, off road Leatherhead Stories Cafe

Four riders met at Nonsuch Mansion: Bill Kent, Adam Domaingue, Dave Elliott and myself leading. A cold, frosty start today with dull skies, but at least no persistent drizzle unlike the previous couple of Saturdays, and very little breeze.

The route took us straight out of Ewell and headed for the north-west corner of Epsom Common and then following south alongside the A24. We crossed this busy road and then onto a trail running across the Leatherhead Golf Club Course. I seldom use this route as in the past it’s been dangerous with no protection from golf balls from the driving range you are down wind of. I never could understand how the Golf Club got away with having a driving range with a public path running across the end of it, and it would appear a few other public didn’t like it either. For since my last traverse of this driving range the path has been altered to run further south and a thirty foot high fine netting barrier has been installed to protect the public using the path from stray ballistic golf balls. Incidentally, if you’re into golf and short of balls just off the A24 there are hundreds of them all over the path and in the undergrowth just begging to be given a new home!

We cut across to Oaklawn Road (drops down towards River Lane, Leatherhead) via a trail running behind the fence on the clockwise side of the M25 and headed for River Lane in Fetcham. The river was angry, but the bridge across and the low lying area alongside thankfully were not flooded.  A few minutes later Dave Elliott suffered a front wheel puncture which required an inner tube change, and some stern grappling to remove a very uncooperative tyre from the rim. The four of us ganged up on the tyre and it eventually gave in, but got its own back by leaving us all with muddy hands.

We were a mile or so from the cafe and after following a few more peaceful side roads we arrived in Leatherhead. The cafe of choice today was ‘Stories Cafe’ with plenty of room when we arrived.

After the usual types of sustenance we ‘athletes’ eat on a winter’s day it was back out into the cold. Dave Elliott headed for home in Chipstead and Adam, Bill and myself headed back over the M25 towards Ashtead Common. At this point the sun came out and for an hour or so you could’ve thought it was Spring. Ashtead Common has developed streams where I’d never seen them before, and away from the hard trails more than a few new ponds due to the recent monsoons. We splashed our way back to Horton where I left the duo of Adam and Bill to continue to Nonsuch and home, whilst I battled with the grid-locked traffic on the drive home caused by the whole weekend closure of the A3 south of the M25 as far as Send.

23 miles or thereabouts, my stroppy Strava paused itself at the cafe and failed to restart, and so our ‘tie dye’ route map comes courtesy of Adam Domaingue.

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