London GOC is expanding its offer of different types of outdoor events. Although there have been a lot of cycling trips run by Adventure Out and the Transpennine Groups in the north of England and Scotland, in recent years there have not been so many in south east England.
Chris Loy therefore proposed a moderate cycle ride from Lingfield to Hildenborough stations in the Low Weald on the border of Surrey and Kent. I know this area well and it is a lovely part of the country. Unfortunately Chris wasn't well on the day, so he delegated the 'leadership' to me.
Five doughty cyclists – it must be said most with a lot of experience - turned up on a pleasant spring morning at Lingfield station. I found myself therefore 'leading' a party of much more experienced cyclists, which just meant I had the maps and knew the route.
The route was selected as a moderate grade with not too many hills and also passed a number of historic places of interest including Hever, Chiddingstone and Penshurst Castles.
We had lunch at what I consider the perfect country pub, the Kent Horse at Markbeech. It was friendly and unpretentious with good and inexpensive pub grub and good beer
The route was somewhat hillier than we expected. After lunch there was a very long downhill section near Hever Castle, although this somehow didn't seem to be compensated by an equivalent uphill section! We had only one mishap on the day - Graeme's chain coming off and getting jammed - which led to a 15 minute delay, not that we were in any rush.
Some of the party (not me) were used to cycling much longer distances than the official 25km, so by mutual consent, as we were all coping OK, we decided to extend the ride. The final length (as measured on a GPS device) was 38km.
At the end of the ride it was suggested we have tea and cake at the 1809 café in Hildenborough, which apparently is owned by Olympian Dame Kelly Homes. Anyway it was a good idea; the pleasant modern café had good tea, coffee and cake, which we felt we'd deserved.
Many thanks to Nic and Graeme, Tony and David for an excellent day out and their company
STOP PRESS: Chris may be repeating this event later in the year, given that he wasn't able to take part on this occasion, so please check the London/Cycling groups lists of forthcoming events.