Pedal power

Pedal power

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I travel every day to the CL office by bike – a 30-minute ride from home through some rather busy streets but definitely the best way to start the morning and avoid the stresses of travelling by public transport. At this time of year, I love to cycle around the countryside at weekends, too, although the speed of traffic on some roads always takes me by surprise. So I was recently delighted to come across a copy of Lost Lanes by Jack Thurston. It includes 36 glorious bike rides around southern England, which wind their way around narrow lanes, off-road paths and tracks, through pastures, meadows, ancient woods and heathlands. There’s no need to pack the book as each map can be downloaded from the website, and there are plenty of pit stops at traditional tearooms and inns along the way, plus each starting point is accessible by train

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I’m determined to try out the following three Kent-based routes, as I can reach these easily from home, but there are some wonderful rides around Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire, the Thames Valley, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire, as well as Suffolk and Essex. Or plan your own itinerary by digging out an Ordnance Survey map and plotting a route along the thin yellow lines.

 

1. Between Downs & Weald

A meandering ride following the twists and turns of the River Eden, through the tiny village of Crowhurst (home to a giant yew tree) past Hever Castle, the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, and along the most beautiful lane in Kent complete with a rambling old farmhouse and dovecote.

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2. The Fifth Continent

A weekend exploration of the mysterious Romney Marsh (above) and Dungeness – the bleakly beautiful ‘land’s end’ of south-east England. Narrow lanes criss-cross ancient sheep-grazed marshland towards the isolated tip of Dungeness and Derek Jarman’s famous shingle garden (below).

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3. The Loneliest Landscape

A spin around the Hoo, a remote north Kent peninsula, where the River Thames ends and the Thames Estuary begins. Beginning on a straight, traffic-free path along an abandoned canal and then railway line, this ride passes three nature reserves run by the RSPB including Northward Hill, which has Britain’s biggest colony of little egrets.

 

And please let me know any of your favourite pedals, too…



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