Checkpoint Numbers & Names
Surrey 3 – Okewood
Surrey 6 – Tilford
Day 32 was always going to be a little risky from the time I left the house – not only was I travelling by train, where recent experiences hadn’t been great but the weather forecast was for rain mid afternoon so there was a risk of getting damp if I didn’t get the ride finished in time but as they say – nothing ventured, nothing gained.
So, after getting off the train at Ash station it was an easy but busy ride out through Tongham, and over the Hogs Back to cross the A31 where the terrain reminded that I was again in the ‘Surrey Hills’ with a couple of short, sharp ups and downs, peaking at the four mile mark just after a village called ‘The Sands’ followed by a nice sharp downhill section for three quarters of a mile so before turning off the main road and in to a small side road, and this was where things started to get a little interesting.
One of the things I should do when planning rides is to check on the side roads with Google streetview but this time I didn’t and got caught out a little as the side road soon turned in to a dirt track, and then nothing more than a footpath through the woods for nearly a mile – fortunately the wide tyres on the Hybrid tourer were up to the task and I was quickly through the woods, although I did stop briefly to take a quick picture of the ‘road’
Once out of the woods and back on the main road it was a quick downhill again and in to Tiford to find the first checkpoint of the day – which turned out to be a little harder than expected. The checkpoint is on a bridge over the river in Tilford but I hadn’t realised there were two bridges in the village, and inevitably I was looking at the wrong bridge, so having found the correct bridge to the south of the green and photographed it the day was about to get a whole lot worse.
Just as I was leaving Tilford I felt a couple of small spots of rain but didn’t think too much of it as the sky was reasonably clear and the rain wasn’t forecast until mid-afternoon, but as I got back on to the main road at Charleshill the rain became enough to warrant putting my jacket on, and then within a few minutes it had pretty much become a complete downpour, fortunately as the ride was on country roads there was plenty of tree cover to keep most of the rain off as I rode throug Elstead and on to Milford by which time the rain had eased up enough that could take my rain jacket off.
Once through Milford it was on to the only really busy road of the day as I took the main ‘A’ road through Godalming and along a road called Meadrow which many will remember as the home to the CTC for many years. Once through Godalming it was time to take the road across country a little along the Trunley Heath Road where at the end I was to join the Downs Link path to take me on to Cranleigh.
It was here that things started to get really wet with the heavens properly opening up, and raining with no sign of a let up – but having been pretty much soaked through already I decided to push on again in the hope that the rain would clear up. The Downs link is a waymarked path that links the North Downs and South Downs using an old disused railway line that has been converted to a bridleway for today this was both a good thing and a bad thing – good because there was no spray from cars, but bad because the rain had made it all a bit slippery and there was a fair bit of mud spray instead.
After about a mile or so on the trail I came across one of the stranger sites during my BCQing – a disused railway station – but the station seemed to have been kept in good order by someone as the platform was clean and clear of weeds, the signs painted and well looked after, and the simple station building still had the timetables and poster from the 1960’s on the wall. So with the rain still coming down it seemed like an ideal place to stop and have a snack and photo opportunity.
As I was eating my snack the rain stopped so it was a quick jump on the bike and crack on along the path to Cranleigh. Whilst the rain had stopped there was still plenty of water dripping off the trees which gave the impression that it was still raining and the next four miles or so in to Cranleigh were nice and quiet as there was no-one else mad enough to be out on the trail in this weather. By the time I got to Cranleigh the rain was torrential so I took the opportunity to find somewhere to stop for lunch and hopefully dry out a bit. Fortunately the staff in one of the pubs in the town were happy to accommodate a damp cyclist for an hour so it was time for the obligatory pub lunch with local real ale.
After lunch the sky again lulled me in to a false sense of security with a few brighter patches, but as I left Cranleigh for the final stretch to Okewood the weather took a turn for the worst as I passed over the hilly section at Ewhurst Hill so by the time I got to the church and checkpoint I was thoroughly wet again. With no other checkpoints for the day, and the rain showing no signs of abating it was time to retrace my steps back to Cranleigh, then along the Downs Link trail back to where I picked it up. From here it was just a short ride in to Shalford where I would catch the train home again. Given the way the rest of the day had gone it was no surpirse that I had missed the train by five minutes and it was nearly an hour to wait for the next one but again I was bailed out by a friendly local cafe who were happy for me to sit in the corner nursing a hot drink and dripping on the floor until my train arrived.
All in all not a great day questing but days like this are inevitable from time to time in this country and once a year isn’t a bad hit-rate I suppose and it did allow me to complete another entire county.
Miles Cycled – 41
Checkpoints Visited – 2
Total Miles Cycled – 1108
Total Checkpoints Visited – 67
Click here to download a gpx file for this ride (this includes the stretch through the woods)