Cycle ride: Two counties, two churches and a pub

Where: Two counties, two churches and a pub – a North Downs ride
When: Sunday 21 April 2013
Meet: 10:00 @ Blackheath Pond, by the Princess of Wales pub, SE3 0RL

This coming Sunday we have the London Marathon, with large areas around the’ route in lockdown. Even more so in the wake of what looks to have been a terrorist attack in Boston MA. I am down to lead a Dog & Bell Crew ride this Sunday, and have been considering where it should go. The London Marathon effectively narrows my options to points south of home, so I propose that I lead the “Two counties, two churches and a pub” ride that was scheduled for 10 March, but cancelled when no-one turned up at Greenwich Park on that bitterly cold and windy day.

And so to the ride description…

Brought to you by the South East London Commissariat for Social Cycle Rides Planning (aka the Dog & Bell Crew), an early spring ride along one of my favourite routes around the North Downs, starting and ending in Blackheath. The ride takes the form of a widdershins loop in the shape of the British Isles, taking in Kent, Surrey, two churches and a pub. It’s a longish ride (~90km/450 furlongs), hilly in places, but nothing too strenuous.

Starting from Blackheath Pond, by the Princess of Wales pub on Montpelier Row, we head due south through Lewisham and Bromley boroughs towards the top of the North Downs by Biggin Hill, and from there descend through Tatsfield down to Limpsfield, and a first stop at for a cuppa at the Tatsfield Reptile Zoo, and a second at a musical graveyard in Limpsfield village church. From Limpsfield we then proceed to Oxted, and a refuelling stop in its renowned Weatherspoons public house (good beer, cheap food).

From Oxted town centre we head further south to Crowhurst, the furthest point on the ride, for a 4,000-year-old treat, before turning north back toward Oxted, and then east along the A25 through Westerham and Brasted. At Sundridge we leave the main road, heading northeast, with a slow climb to the top of Polhill, possibly to be overtaken by a group of geriatric club cyclists who were cycling around the North Downs when Winston Churchill was on the throne.

From Polhill it’s then westish along quiet country roads to Halstead, and north down to the A21. After a short and fast spin along that Kentish highway, we head north through Green Street Green, and then wend our way around the houses toward St Paul’s Cray and Chislehurst. From Chislehurst village it’s onwards to Eltham, and from there back to Blackheath.

Please ensure that your bikes are in working order, with tyres pumped up hard, and free of embedded debris that could cause punctures. Bring a spare inner tube or two, puncture repair materials, water and snacks, and lights.

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