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Farthing Down Chalk uplands in the Summer

Escape! the countryside is closer than you think, by bike

The roads are back to their normal pre-Covid levels of madness, in central London somehow made worse by all those flower beds popping up in the middle of the streets. Traffic calming? I'm not convinced!

Can’t be bothered to get out? Too much hassle? Well, if you have a bike you’re lucky, the open countryside with all that fresh air is under an hour away.

The area of the countryside I refer to is that oft-overlooked slither of Green belt sandwiched between London and the M25. You know that bit you crawl through at zero miles per hour on a Friday evening on the way out for the weekend.

It’s closer than you could imagine and far easier to get to when you know how. I’m not kidding, green traffic free ways leading to pleasant pastures start from Crystal Palace and Streatham.

It’s a curious patch, packed to the gunnels with some great riding, for the keen off-road cyclist there’s the chalk ridge of the North Downs with loads of technical descents and tough old climbs. For those not training for the Tour, there are gentle routes alongside the rivers and brooks that run into the Thames, these streams are beautiful and full of wildlife. In recent times money has been thrown at cleaning up these rivers and it was only the other day a saw a school (?) of whopping trout in the Beverly Brook in Richmond Park!

For nature lovers, there are swathes of rare chalk downland pastures, old coppiced woodlands, and don’t get me started on the sandy heathlands. Mingled amongst bucolic views are relics galore - Church wall paintings, windmills, palaces, towns of every age, Second World War aerodromes and pillboxes, the scope is endless.

Oh, and don’t forget the unexpected eccentricities, Peter Rabbits Post Office, the Gorilla’s and Giraffe’s of Coulsdon, follies of the gentry and a red telephone in the middle of a field!

And the best thing about all of this is that it’s bang on your doorstep waiting for you to discover. You can either join one of our regular rides or contact me and I’ll arrange a special day for you, your family, friends or colleagues.
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