Checkpoint Numbers & Names
Kent 2 – Biddenden
Kent 3 – East Farleigh
Kent 4 – Lamberhurst
Having had to hastily re-arrange this weekends planned trip to the Isle of Wight due to a train strike it was a chance to visit a county that had so far eluded me on the BCQ, and one I could easily get to by driving to somewhere along the route but looking for places so start that were mid route wasn’t as easy to find as I’d hoped, so I opted to start at East Farleigh as there seemed to be ample parking at the train station and it looked easy to get to from the motorway.
So once parked at the train station and bike un-packed and ready to go it was only a few yards to freewheel from the station down the hill and over the bridge that was to be the first checkpoint of the day. having crossed the bridge it was a quick photograph and time to get on with the ride proper. NOTE – I got this question wrong, one of the arches was so overgrown that couldn’t see it and mis-counted, fortunately I was able to prove with the photo I was here so my answer was accepted.
On leaving East Farleigh the road was an immediate up hill (seems to be the story of the BCQ!), climbing almost continually for two miles until I got to the top of Hunton Hill. But, as the saying goes, what goes up must come down so with a big ‘thank you’ from my already aching legs it was just as steep and long a downhill section then through the village of Hunton itself and over the River Beult before cruising in to Benover where it was time to stop for a swift drink before spending the next three miles or so on a gentle cruise through very quiet, almost deserted lanes in to the villages of Claygate and Rams Hill.
Rams Hill was obviously a clue as the what was coming next as from here the road started yet another climb for a couple of miles through Horsmondon and Hazel Street, before a short series of ups and downs as I crossed over the A262 down in to the second checkpoint of the day at Lamberhurst which was easy to find as the telephone box mentioned in the question was on the main road in to the town. If you have time while you’re here then Scorney Castle, a National Trust property is definitely worth the visit as well.
No time for me to visit the castle unfortunately as it was going to be quite a long day in the saddle with 41 miles to cover and not starting until 10am so it was time to press on a little and hit the A262 all the way in to the third checkpoint at Biddendon, so climbing back out of Lamberhurst up to the A262 I joined the road expecting it to be busy. The ‘A’ roads in many counties seem to reasonably quiet in comparison to the ones I’m used to riding on in Berkshire and this was no different as the road was quite wide and reasonably quiet which meant that the few cars I encountered all gave me plenty of room when overtaking and never made me feel threatened at all which just added to my enjoyment as I rode up and down the gentle hills for the first couple of miles before coming to my second big climb of the day on the way in to Goudhurst. The climb in to Goudhurst was a bit of a tough slog, but as I reached the peak in the village itself it was made all worthwhile with the magnificent sight of St. Marys Church immediately in front of me.
After leaving Goudhurst the road now took a generally downward aspect with just the occasional short uphill section all the way through Iden Green and Flishinghurst and in to Sissinghurst where I had planned on stopping for lunch. On the road in to Sissinghurst I had one of those ‘quick stop’ moments when I came across a large sculpture of a Penny Farthing that piqued my interest. Having stopped and dismounted to take a couple of pictures I discovered that the sculpture was in fact erected in 2007 to commemorate the Tour de France going through the village, so after the obligatory stop for my now traditional pub sandwich and pint of real ale it was time to crack on to Biddenden as I was conscious that I was only a just over half way through the ride.
The next three or four miles on the A262 where much similar to the previous ones from Lamberhurst, although I did notice that the traffic was increasing slightly as the day wore on, and it wasn’t long before I rolled in to Biddenden and (almost literally) to the third and final checkpoint. The small green where the checkpoint was located couldn’t have been easier to find, and after looking around the green for a while as I caught my breath it was time for the last and what I knew was going to be the busiest and least enjoyable part of the day.
Heading north out of Biddenden I travelled on the busier A274 road out through Lashenden and then the small town of Headcorn, and with the road being quite flat I took the opportunity to ‘put the pedal to the metal’ and make up some good time while I could. Shortly after Headcorn the road started a gentle incline, and began what I knew to be the final steep climb of the day which was a tough 1.5 mile trudge up through the village of Sutton Valance, and on to the top at Warmlake. From here it was a nice five or six mile cruise downhill all the way through Five Wents and Parkwood and in to the southern edge of Maidstone where I turned off through Tovil and down in the start point at East Farleigh.
This was again one of those tough but rewarding days on the BCQ, it was a long day as the drive to the start took nearly about 2hrs each way, and with 42 miles ridden I was relieved to get back to the car and sit on something comfortable on non-pedal powered. Kent certainly lives up to its title as the Garedn of England, but like Surrey, does have a number of hidden hills that might catch the unwary out.
Miles Cycled – 42
Checkpoints Visited – 3
Total Miles Cycled – 982
Total Checkpoints Visited – 58
Click here to download a gpx file of this ride