After torrential rain on Sunday and Monday I had my fingers crossed for the Tuesday Ride. But as forecast 10 0’clock was bright and sunny when we set off for the climb upto Botley Hill Farm. Again as forecast the sunshine then turned to dark and threatening cloud. With several options in my head to suit a variety of weather conditions we continued down into Westerham. Sprinting for the 30 mph sign at the entry into the historic old town, the first rain shower arrived. But looking skywards and seeing the promise of blue sky approaching I decided to take the longer, more scenic, and might I say, hillier route to our tea stop.
Heading west out of Westerham along the A25 it is but a short distance before the left turn into Goodley Stock Road. There must be a reason for a name like that, but what it is, I don’t know. There is here however, the famous stately home of Squerryes Court with its lake and beautiful gardens.
The current house dates back to the 17th century and the Warde family of military note. But an earlier one dates back to the Norman Conquest and the de Squerie family. Their family crest was based around a squirrel, which may have given rise the family name, and hence Squerryes Court.
The climb up Goodley Stock Road, past old farms and thru ancient woodland took us upto join the B269 that leads to Edenbridge. We however turned off after a fast descent halfway down Crockham Hill, following the sign for Chartwell. Another climb with views over looking the vast expanse of the Kent Weald stretching out below, followed by a winding down hill ride thru more woodland scenes as we rode the last mile or so to the National Trust tea room at Chartwell.
Like Squerryes Court, Chartwell has a long history dating back to at least the 16th century. Whilst its most famous resident is of course Sir Winston Churchill, it is reputed to have been used by King Henry VIII during his illicit courtship of Anne Boleyn who lived at the nearby Hever Castle.
We arrived at the tea room just in time because now the heavens opened and rain continued to pour down whilst we chatted over coffees and tea.
Donning our waterproof jackets we eventually had to leave but by then the rain was beginning to ease and had virtually stopped by the time we reached Westerham Green with its statue of the most famous local boy, the boy who grew up to be General Wolfe.
Quebec House in Westerham is another National Trust property, which was originally the home of General Wolfe. As a young boy Wolfe was a friend of George Warde who lived at Squerryes Court. Both boys became famous military commanders, but Wolfe was by far the most famous. He is remembered as “The Hero of Quebec” and “The Conquerer of Canada” after storming the cliffs above the River Lawrence to defeat the French in the battle of Quebec, which victory led to Canada becoming a British colony.
Like many of our military heroes, he was killed at his most memorable battle, the storming of Quebec, and this epic moment became the subject of a famous painting held at the Canadian National Gallery, the Death of General Wolfe by Benjamim West.
Our last battle was climb up from Westerham to the heights by Botley Hill Farm. With blue sky and the warmth of the sun it was time to stop to take of the waterproof jackets in anticipation of the final sprint to the 30 mph sign as we entered Warlingham.
We got home just in time because yet again the heavens opened for another torrent of H2O. Next week it is October and hopefully a change of month will bring a change of weather. So fingers crossed that we can make it into the Surrey Hills, meeting at Tesco, Purley at 10 am.