2022Gazette ArticlesRides

A Winter’s Day Out and About, Jan 2022

After our enjoyable ride to Denbies and Box Hill on a warm and sunny New Years Day, the weather changed to winter dreariness – cold, wet and windy! I can’t now remember if I managed to get out on a Tuesday Ride. However the sun came out on the following weekend, but with some overnight frost, a bitingly cold wind and a real risk of black ice!
Seven of us gingerly made our way upto Botley Hill Farm, a notorious cold spot for ice and snow due to it’s altitude above sea level. So far, no ice!

Do you remember Botley Hill Farm on those sunny summer rides!

We decide to press on, very slowly down the steep, potholed hill to join the Pilgrims Way. I had intended to climb up Ide Hill, followed by the fast descent to Riverhead. But knowing that the higher altitude in this cold weather could very likely result in black ice, I decided to just follow the main A25 from Westerham, along the valley floor towards our intended tea stop at the Malibar coffee shop. Fortunately there was very little traffic along the A25, but what little there was, had dried up the road surface so we could get a bit of oomph into our pedalling and warm ourselves up!
Passing through Brasted, I remembered to look out for the lovely old village pump that we must have passed hundreds of times, but which I only first noticed a few months back. Now in mid-winter, probably frozen up!

Warmer times – Autumn leaves on the tree !

For a bit of a more scenic route we took a left turn adjacent to the slip road which links into the Sevenoaks Bypass. This took is into the lovely old village of Chipstead (Kent not Surrey!) and onto what was the old coach road to Sevenoaks and past the St. George and the Dragon pub. In more recent times it was an Anerley Sunday lunch stop, after watching the Catford Hill Climb at Yorks Hill each September, and on other occasions.

The old coaching inn claimed to date back to King Henry VIII’s time

Continuing on the old coach road we soon came to Riverhead and the Malibar coffee shop, very much in need of a hot drink to warm us up! On several previous occasions we have found it half empty, but not this time. Perhaps it was church going families after the Sunday morning service, as the place was over crowded with families, many with push chairs blocking the spaces between tables. Not exactly an ideal setting in view of Covid! But needs must, that or freeze, we decided to chance it, and as luck would have it, a table became free beside a side wall, thus substantially reducing us to adjacent customers.

Caught on Google Street View on a previous occasion!

Our return ride via the Pilgrims Way, was uneventful except for one section which regularly floods. Here the overnight rain had run down the steep hill from Knockholt, leaving a section of circa 50 yards under water, up to 6 inches or more at it’s deepest. Having had virtually no traffic along these minor country lanes, we now encountered two at this flooded section! I waved frantically to the drivers to slow down, which of course they did not! Resulting in a huge bow wave for those unfortunate enough to get caught by it!

So in brief, a cold and wet ride – roll on the summer!