Clearing The Way
Had a particularly enjoyable outing through more Surrey byways on my latest trip to Guildford.
There's a huge patient support centre at St Lukes with a wide range of activities and therapies, some free, some almost free. So I joined the art class. One morning per week, everything provided, making for a much more relaxed visit than when undertaking treatment there.
Ideal for getting lost and muddy on a motorbike on the way.
And in a way, playing with the artist materials (inks this week, acrylics last week) is a little like playing with the mud in these lanes. You use a brush on the paper, a motorbike on the lane.
The lanes and the woodlands in these Surrey Hills are all pretty ancient, the woods are quite dense and the lanes well hidden under the leafy canopies. There's not much light. I really need a tripod for the long exposures but I'm not going to carry that amount of luggage.
So on this little trip I mainly took photos when the sun was squeezing enough brightness through the branches.
Firstly, back to Hogden Lane around the Polesden Lacey estate. I found the route this time.
A couple of photos along the slope down to the end of the lane, where it joins Ranmore Common Road:
Oh, to be in England now that November's there.
Five hundred yards along the tarmac of Ranmore Common Road towards Guildford brings us to Drove Road. And about half a mile down there:
Yes, there are lots of riders that would have had a go at jumping over this, but I'd just spent the morning delicately applying inks to paper, so I wasn't really prepared for rough stuff. And there was no first-aid back-up team.
When I first saw it, I thought of the state of these byways back in the 60s and 70s, when uncertainties about their status led to some individuals blocking the lanes with whatever they could find to stop us riders using them.
But this trunk had definitely fallen from the remaining stump just out of view, and probably not long before I arrived.
It wasn't difficult to clear out the way and the journey continued.
There was plenty of mud and water further on.
My plan was to fork right here onto Sheepwalk Lane, just next to this gate. But I didn't expect this sign in the straight on direction.
Years ago the rest of Drove Road was closed by the council at this point. It had become severly damaged by over-use (mainly by 4X4 vehicles unfortunately) with deep ruts which became rivers in the rain adding to the erosion. The ancient features of this track were in danger of being completely destroyed.
Even more so on Beggars Lane, which this track leads to about half a mile further on. That's an old steep chalk track dropping down the side of Hackhurst Downs to the A25 Guildford Road at Gomshall. I hadn't bothered to look up the latest status of these two tracks, assuming they were still closed.
I don't know if it happens elsewhere in the country, but the council here has a policy of repairing badly damaged byways and re-opening them to two-wheeled traffic only where there's a danger of four-wheel traffic continuing to cause problems. London Lane at Shere is one such (only bikes allowed on that lane in the winter). And here's the rest of Drove Road, now open to bikes (and small horse-drawn carts) only.
So we'll give it a try.
I took a few photos where there was still light reaching the lane.
Still on Drove Road.
And on to Beggars Lane.
At the start of the descent down Hackhurst Downs, there's a strange road sign, reflective and scattering the flashlight everywhere.
The Highway Code
that I remember always used to say "Keep Left."
Here, we're encouraged to wander all over the road as we like. How neat is that?
On reaching the bottom at the A25 it was off to the usual stop at Box Hill. But once back on the tarmac away from the mud you suddenly realise how cold you're getting. And a common effect of my continuing hormone treatment is an occasional loss of temperature control. Hot one minute, cold the next. So time to call it a day for today and find a new thermostat.
I'll return to Beggars Lane before the winter progresses too far and ride it in the other direction, up the hill (I hope - the chalk's pretty slippery in places). But Ireland beckons in the meantime.
Then there's Fullers Farm Road and Wix Lane further towards Guildford, and Ponds Lane in Little London.
Not to mention all the byways beyond Guildford around Frensham and Hindhead. Will probably need a new carnet and a laissez-passer to get there.
Posted by Ken Thomas at November 11, 2011 10:36 AM GMT