Cycle ride – Dr Hoo’s Midwinter Burn

Francis Sedgemore, Wednesday 2 January 2013 at 14:40 UTC

What: Dr Hoo’s Midwinter Burn
When: Sunday 6 January 2013
Meet: 08:00 @ Cutty Sark Gardens, London SE10 9LW

By next Sunday you should have cleared the Christmas toxins from your system, and be ready for a nice long day on the bike to burn off a several thousand of those excess calories. An interesting an relevant fact: 4,500 calories is the equivalent of half a kilogramme of body fat. I leave it as an exercise for the reader to convert between calories and xmas chocolates.

To help you with your new year weight-loss resolution, the Southeast London Commissariat for Social Cycle Rides Planning, aka the Dog & Bell Crew, presents “Dr Hoo’s Midwinter Burn”, being a 130-kilometre (650 furlongs) spin out to and around the Hoo Peninsula, the hooknose-shaped lump separating the Thames and Medway estuaries. The Hoo Peninsula is made up of sandy clay hills and marshland composed of alluvial silt, and derives its name from the Old English word for ‘spur of land’. Cooling Church on the Hoo was the setting for Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations.

The ride away from the Great Wen will follow the main road from Greenwich to Woolwich, before diverting onto quieter lanes through Belvedere, and rejoining the highway at Erith. From Erith it’s on to Greenhithe, Swanscombe and Northfleet, and a stop at the seaside-like Gordon Promenade in Gravesend to pick up any riders coming by train. We may have an invitation for a cuppa at the Gravesend Sailing Club boathouse.

From Gravesend we cycle alongside the old Thames and Medway canal, enter the Hoo Peninsula at Lower Higham, and turn north up to Cliffe and Cooling before stopping for lunch at the Horseshoe and Castle pub. After passing Schloss Holland (aka Cooling Castle) we proceed eastward to High Halstow, St Mary’s Hoo and Allhallows, where the brave can dip their toes in the briny estuary water (at your own risk: standards disclaimers apply!).

The return from the Hoo Peninsula takes us though Stoke, Kingsnorth and Chattenden, and then northwest along National Cycle Route #1 back toward Gravesend.

From Gravesend we continue along NCR #1 to Dartford and Erith, and the final 25 kilometres of the ride will be along the Thames Path to Greenwich. Those unwilling or unable to continue past Gravesend can catch a train home from there.

Please ensure that your bikes are in good working order, with tyres free of debris that could cause punctures. Essential: warm clothes, lights, tools, a spare inner tube or two, and a puncture repair kit. Also pack plenty of water and energy rich snacks, especially if you are intending to do the entire 130 kilometre ride.

RSVP, but it’s OK to turn up unannounced on the day.