August is being a bit funny this year, weatherwise, and today was a typical example of the sort of muggy dull days we’ve been getting recently. (My photos also seem to get a bit fuzzy too so apologies for this.) Fortunately, there’s usually a bit of fine weather thrown in at some point each day, and in the case of today, it came at around lunchtime, so we enjoyed at least half of our ride today in pleasant sunshine.
This was our annual jaunt up the towpath of the Wey Navigation to Weybridge, where the Thames is reached, and which we then pedal along all the way to Richmond. An eatery is then found – usually expensive in this part of the world – after which we return, taking a slight shortcut through Bushey Park, back to where we started. It’s a great ride and somewhat different from our usual offerings in that we have the chance to dust off our off-road machines (if we have one) and ride on dirt for much of the day. The dirt, of course, isn’t particularly dirty – it’s just towpaths along the side of our local rivers, but it makes for a very pleasant day’s riding. As such, a good number of people gathered outside the Black Prince in New Haw / Woodham, since all three groups follow much the same route.
To ease congestion we set off in our respective groups. There were quite a few people walking dogs and cycling with their children in tow but I don’t think we incurred the wrath of anyone, mainly because we’re a sensible group of riders who say ‘good morning’ and ‘thank you’ as we pass other people; it’s so worthwhile being courteous and smiley.
Your scribe rode with the 2s today and enjoyed a relatively leisurely ride downriver. We enjoyed the usual coffee stop by Walton Bridge before continuing to Kingston where we headed cross country to Ham and thence to Richmond Park where we encountered our one and only hill of the day, as we cycled from Ham Gate to Richmond Gate. A minor route error was soon corrected and shortly afterwards we reached Terrace Gardens and the Hollyhock Cafe, a vegetarian / vegan restaurant, chosen by our group leader, Roger. Great choice, Roger! We all loved the food and what a perfect setting!
We headed back by crossing the Thames at Teddington Lock, where we passed the usual watering hole of The Anglers PH before pedalling up Teddington High Street and turning right shortly after into Bushey Park. We were enjoying a pleasant ride through this delightfully peaceful place before being caught up by the noisy group 3s and 4s, who proceeded to carve a slice through our well ordered group. By the time we reached the river at Hampton Court Bridge we were all over the place and then it was every man for himself (ditto with the ladies). Rumours were spread that the ice cream was running out at the Walton Cafe, so it was full speed ahead and devil take the hindmost to get the last of them. Of course it was a complete load of me-eye and anyone who wanted one enjoyed a good suck on a lolly of their choice, or enjoyed a more traditional cuppa before the final five or so miles back to Woodham.
We all got a bit split up, the end result of which was that, of course, Susan and I got mildly lost by not heading up the Basingstoke Canal where it splits off from the Wey, but that was soon put right and we were back at the Black Price by about four something, having enjoyed a very pleasant day in good company.
I really must ride more of these canals – they’re so enjoyable to ride. Thanks to the leaders and everyone for their company. A great day!