Archive for the ‘cycling’ Tag

A Bike Ride and a Swim   13 comments

After our Wye Valley walk the day before and the missed wild swim opportunity I wanted to fix that before the weather turned (as it was planned to the next day). Time to combine that with a bike ride. We have as number of swimming spots near home but most are popular and therefore unlikely to be suitable in the current situation. My guide book mentions the Lugg at Bodenham as a good spot so I hoped an early start and the fact its out in the sticks would make it a little quieter.

It was a fine ride, almost exclusively on quiet country lanes (apart from a nervy crossing of the A49 on its only dual carriageway stretch) although a lot further than I thought – 18 miles each way.

Bodenham is a beautiful village with a stunning church, looking especially fine on a clear sunny day. I found a quiet corner to lock my bike and get changed and headed for the river.


The Lugg is a small river but its deep enough for a swim and was surprisingly cold. There were a few people around but in no way crowded and everyone was being distanced and respectful. I found a quiet shady spot and went for a swim.


I didn’t stay in long as more people were arriving and I’m not really a sun-bather.


Happy with a wonderful cooling dip, I headed back to my bike for the return journey.


The meadow along the riverbank was stunning.


The bridge over the Lugg on the way back to the Church. There are also some abandoned Quarry pools nearby that are also good for swimming (although you are warned not to enter the water as its perceived to be dangerous due to hidden obstacles). I need to investigate these when I come back here.


Last couple of shots of the church before cycling the second 18 mile stretch back home.


Embracing My Inner Cyclist   14 comments

So with walking seemingly a non starter (other around my local lanes) I needed something else to ensure I stayed fit and healthy. I brought myself a new bike a few years ago with the intention of trying to use on my work at home days to get me out of the house and stay reasonably fit. I’m so glad now that I did as its been a godsend in these difficult times.


Anyone that knows me will tell you I’m not and never have been an especially keen cyclist. Its always been a means to an end. A cheap form of transport before I had a car or a way to access the mountains when the terrain allowed. Over the past couple of years I’ve found a few rides of around 10-15 miles that I undertake when I have time working at home although its been sporadic especially through winter when cycling in the cold and wet is not much fun.


On realising it was going to be only form of real exercise for many weeks I took a decision that I should head out every day. So far I’ve managed that apart from one day and since lockdown started I’ve clocked up over 700 miles. Considering I’ve been at work for all that period other than weekends and Bank Holidays and the longest single ride was 35 miles, I’m pretty proud of that. I’ve been trying to make it a habit such that I won’t break it when we are back to something resembling normal. Its my intention to take some form of exercise every single day which you would think is obvious for an outdoors person but when your work takes you out for almost 12 hours a day it can be tough.


So I’ve been expanding my range of bike rides and taking on some longer routes over weekends. This has obviously been helped by endless days of sunshine and blue sky when cycling is a very much more enticing prospect.


I stick to my usual 3 or 4 routes during the week fitting in a ride either between daytime meetings or at the end of the day. I’ve also been combining cycling with essential trips to the local butchers and farm shops for supplies. In addition to cycling I’m also determined to give more support to my local businesses who will really need it as the crisis continues. It adds cost but the value for money is the key as the supplies of meat and veg are an order of magnitude better.

These next few photos are taken from a small hill I cycle past regularly. Its called Cockyard Tump and as well as having a great name offers some superb views.


The actual top is on private land a few metres from the road but I noticed the gate was open and no-one was around so I saw no harm in a quick wander in my bike shoes.


Looking back towards my home village of Madley.


I’ve actually enjoyed scouring the maps looking for routes to maximise the almost endless collection of country lanes that a county like Herefordshire provides. These are taken from Bredwardine Bridge over the Wye where we’ve swum in the past.


I managed to put together a route that circumnavigated Hereford from home using mostly C-class roads, a couple of miles of B-Roads and only about a mile of A-Road. Another route (the longest I’ve done that I was rather proud of)


Views from the highest point near Aconbury Hill.


The River Lugg at Moreton. I’d have been underwater on this stretch just a few weeks before yet now the local rivers are almost down to record lows!


Taking a well earned snack break on the bridge.


Its taught me to rediscover not only how subtly beautiful the county is but to enjoy the less obvious delights. My first few weeks coincided with the burst of yellow of the Rapeseed fields.


Crops of bright green waving in the breeze.


And views I must have cycled past many times and just never stopped to notice. A view to Burton Hill above Weobley (a missing Marilyn I need to climb at some point)


As my cycling fitness improved I decided to tackle a slightly more ambitious route (most of my local roads are essentially flat). I found a road that climbed to around 300m which didn’t look too steep. I always carry a pair of ordinary trainers on a bike ride in case I have a catastrophic failure and have to walk home so I figured I could walk up the hill if I had to. To say I was chuffed to cycle all the way to the top without a break is an understatement.


My joy was further enhanced by the route from the top of the “pass”. A glorious high level traverse, rolling along without any major climbs with spectacular views across to the out of bounds Black Mountains.


It was a warm sunny day, I’d done the hard yards and had a nice long swift descent to look forward to.


I stopped by the roadside for a snack amongst the wild flowers on a deserted road. I almost liked cycling at that point! 🙂


I repeated the route a couple of weeks later although in reverse the road up up was much tougher, steeper and longer and I was at my bike fitness limit but still managed the climb.


Just before the drop I decided to take in a very short walk. There is a missing HUMP up there called Mynydd Ferddin so I hid my bike behind a hedge and took a 15 minute wander to the top.


It was a much cloudier day but the views were still grand and it was nice to do something without feeling saddle sore.


No-one around and I suspect this path rarely sees any visitors. Even by Herefordshire standards this is middle of nowhere territory!


Looking back on my first hill climb for a couple of months.


Another one of my treasured discoveries from this ride. The stunning Dulas valley near Ewyas Harold.


I’m still keeping the cycling going although less frequently now that the slight relaxation in lockdown rules is allowing me to head for some walks again. I intend to cycle every day other than when I can fit in a walk. Lets see if I can keep that Lockdown resolution.


Cycling in the Forest of Dean   5 comments

Short post and a change of scene and activity.


A damp and grey day is more suited to a bike ride than a walk so we headed off for one of our favourite rides around the Forest of Dean.


An easy and unhurried ride around a route I’ve found that avoids most of the busier cycleways with enough hills for exercise without too much in the way of effort!


A stop off at Mallards Pike lake for a cuppa and a snack.


With some gosling cuteness thrown in.


Nice way to spend a Sunday


Posted June 13, 2019 by surfnslide in Cycling, Forest of Dean

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New Forest Cycling   24 comments


TJS is currently in the process of applying for his university place and has/is paying some visits to their open days to have a look around. One of his possible choices is Southampton University so I decided to take him and fit in some cycling in the New Forest to make a day of things. I visited down here with my parents when I was a kid but my memories are vague. I’ve always assumed it would be good for easy cycling and indeed it was


I picked a route on the eastern side with a vague plan of some sort of round trip via Hatchet Pond. It worked out well as the cycle routes are well signed and I only went wrong once (see bottom left corner of route!). 30 miles in total so not a bad effort although its pretty much flat all the way

New Forest

My start point at Deerleap was easily the best part. It was a pretty dreary grey day but the open meadows studded with trees was a real pleasure to cycle through. I was there reasonably early and there were few cyclists and walkers once I was I away from the car park


Other than a short stretch through Lyndhurst it was on broad forest tracks and I enjoyed my little tour. Not without incident. I had a puncture and fell off a few times (I’m still getting used to cleat pedals).  I stopped for lunch at Lodge Heath campsite next to a small pond with a few horses for company. I was the only person there so I felt I had the forest to myself



I passed through several of these campsites and although closed now for the season they looked really nice. Basic with just taps and toilets but huge and you can camp anywhere. No idea how busy they get in summer though


I reached Hatchet Pond and stopped (and fell off) again. It was a lovely spot with views across to the Isle of Wight


The route back was through the same stretch of forest but a slightly different route



When I arrived back at Deerleap the sun was out and it was all rather splendid



The open meadows were even better second time around. There were lots more people about, families cycling and walking and loads of dogs



I hadn’t noticed up till then but it was exceptionally warm, pushing 20C and I needed to cool down before I headed off to collect TJS


An excellent day out (for both of us in different ways). A little cycling video to finish off

Posted November 4, 2017 by surfnslide in Cycling

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On Yer Bike – The Camel Trail   15 comments


A walk on the moors, a walk on the coast, a play in the sea. We needed something else to entertain us on the last day. Some cycling was in order. The Camel Trail runs for 17 miles along the estuary and inland towards the fringes of Bodmin Moor. That would do nicely, we hired bikes, packed a picnic and headed off


Its a supremely easy and flat ride, busy and very popular with families. There are wide and expansive views across the estuary








After passing through Wadebridge the character changes and it becomes a wooded trail. Much quieter and in fact for large stretches, deserted


At the far end near Wenfordbridge we came across this rather nice meadow by the river and had tea, crab sandwiches and cake. Very refined




And then back the same way rather than a trip through the lanes. To be honest the inland stretch was a bit samey, just long stretches through the trees with not much in the way of views. I think a road return would have added some variety but there is a lot to be said for traffic free cycling


We returned along the estuary for more fine views and and ever increasing soreness of backside (a problem I find when I don’t have any cause to ride out of the saddle on a longer ride)




A 34 mile trip took the weekends outdoor distance covered to almost 50 miles. Not bad

Camel Trail

Just a final stroll through Padstow and a quiet sit on the harbour to finish off a superb weekend




Getting older has its benefits, lets just hope I have plenty more Cornwall weekends left in me! 🙂

Cycling with TJF   11 comments


Having spent most of Easter either away or at work I hadn’t seen much of TJF so with the senior funster away I wanted us to spend some time together. She’s not big into hiking so I suggested a bike ride, expecting a negative response but she seemed quite keen. Having been introduced to the delights of the Brecon and Monmouthshire canal a few weeks ago I settled on that. Armed with a quality picnic we parked up at Llangynidr and set off


Having described the route as “flat” TJF was a little miffed to find the first mile has several locks requiring you to actually have to pedal a bit! She survived the experience intact 🙂


As before it was a lovely ride. Not as sunny as the forecast promised but good enough and we enjoyed a gentle ride, ducks under all the bridges and the feathered variety and their young on the water


There is a tunnel on this section but alas for boats only


We reached the pretty bridge where I’d paused on the previous trip and enjoyed a lavish picnic.


TJS is looking pleased having just consumed a large slice of sugary lemon drizzle cake


We took an amble down to the aquaduct over the River Usk to rest our weary butts (I’ve found cycling in the same position for more than 20 minutes is shall we say uncomfortable!)




The views and the scene were very fine and I think TJS was enjoying being out in the sunshine



A day for staying down in the valleys as the Brecons looked a little gloomy




Time to return back to the car the same way. Just as enjoyable but both our butts were glad to see a comfy car seat



Great to spend some quality time with TJF and she seemed keen to do more of the same. She is very much an adventure, water and cycling person while TJS is a hiking man. We have some holiday plans that suit both of them for this year, a bit of a departure from the norm for the family. More of that later in the year

Cycling with the Hardman   20 comments

When I told people about this they were concerned for my welfare. Going cycling with the Hardman is like saying I’m off for a short stroll with John Muir. The Hardman is very serious about his cycling and despite his older years is seriously fit. He’s thin and wiry and in short everything I’m not. This is man who cycled from the coast to the highest road on Tenerife, a relentless unbroken climb of 2400m, in less than 3 hours. I’d agreed to go cycling in the Peak District with him. I sent him several “go easy on me” and “I’m really quite unfit” e-mails in the hope that I might stand a slim chance of returning directly home afterwards rather than via an oxygen tent in a lonely casualty department.

In the event he was a very considerate cycling partner, reducing his speed down to “middle aged mortal” level and allowing me and TBF to survive the experience intact 🙂

In truth the route was an easy one. North along the Tissington Trail, south on the High Peak Trail and back along the roads to the start. After an excellent breakfast at a garden centre (I had to wait for it to open, how sad is that at my age) we parked up the stunning village of Tissington ready for the off.


It was a cracker of a day. A clear blue sky is the perfect day for a visit to the White Peak. The green fields and the white stone walls seems to radiate light and warmth


The Tissington Trail is a wonderful vantage point (or stretch to be precise) to view it from on a bike as its elevated. More importantly the ascent is barely noticeable, in effect a flat ride. Perfect for us less fit types



We made easy and swift progress to Parsley Hay where the views were superb and we celebrated with a cuppa. The White Peak was my local hiking/stomping ground around 15 years ago when I lived near Derby and I used to love it. The mix of open grassy fields and deep limestone dales and gorges was always one of my favourite landscapes and its a real shame I don’t get back there often enough


Such was the quality of the day we headed up to the far end of the trail to see what it was like



This section was especially fine and the easy cycling in such wonderful surroundings was a joy. There is plan in motion to link the ends of the Tissington, Monsal and High Peak cycle ways. When complete it will be a quite superb 2 day circuit through some of the finest scenery in the UK


We headed south and back along the High Peak Trail. Another stop for a snack and a cuppa was in order but this section was exposed to the cold wind. We eventually found a really well sheltered spot just after this man-made causeway, itself really rather impressive



We left the trail at Brassington and had a rather excellent sweeping fast descent down the road. The price to pay was a short steep hill preceded by a ford (which the Hardman disappointingly refused to cycle through). Me and TBF were well chuffed to make it to the top without needing to push although a couple of stops to admire the scenery were required



The Hardman, being a more serious cycling type has a disturbing tendency to dress like a MAMIL!


A final lazy roll back down to Tissington finished a memorable ride of 30 miles. I may at some point start to enjoy cycling (don’t tell anyone)


Best way to finish off a great day and a superb weekend? A family meal at Wagamamas when we got home. Sorted!

Pedalling through the Forest of Dean   6 comments

In a bout of foolishness I decided to take the family cycling. Anybody who knows me is aware that I’m not terribly fond of cycling. For a start I don’t much like bikes, they are the work of satan if you ask me, always in constant need of attention and an array of squeaks and squeels no matter how much you try to stop them. I have my kids for that, I don’t need it from mechanical contraptions. I’m not really built for cycling either being short of leg and wide of girth. Despite all this cycling is at least something that I thought we could all take some pleasure from seeing as TJF hates walking.

Forest of dean, family cycleway, cycling

Forest of dean, family cycleway, cycling

Somewhere without any big hills seemed in order and as it was windy some trees would be nice. Forest of Dean fits that particular bill with its family cycleway using some of the old coal mining rail routes.

Forest of dean, family cycleway, cycling

Forest of dean, family cycleway, cycling

In fact it was rather nice. The sun came out the cycling was easy and we found a nice open sunny glade for a picnic.

Forest of dean, family cycleway, cycling

Forest of dean, family cycleway, cycling

All was going well until on the only major downhill section TJS got rather over-excited, went too fast and fell off. He seemed fine until I pointed out a large hole in his trousers only partly covering a nasty graze on his rump. The sight of blood turned him a fetching greyish-white colour and his cycling was over. He walked back while I went and fetched the car.

Forest of dean, family cycleway, cycling

Put a bit of damper on the day but it was different and enjoyable in its way but I still prefer my feet to wheels unless those wheels come in groups of four with a enclosed body and roof, aircon and a a stereo 🙂

Me? On a Bike? You must be joking!   9 comments

Most of my friends know that I’m not a huge fan of cycling. As a cheap means of transport when I was too poor to afford a car it did the job. As a means of outdoor fun it just never quite buried itself in my psyche like walking and the rest of my madcap outdoor pursuits. I do own a very dated mountain bike a very sad relic in an age of high-tech machines, but its a rare occasion when I take it out.


This could be changing however after a rather splendid little jaunt a couple of weeks back which I have to admit I rather enjoyed. When we were walking at Symonds Yat at couple of months back I noticed lots of cyclists on the south side on what must be an old disused railway line along the course of the river Wye. Perfect for the kids I thought so we hoisted all the bikes down there and gave it a shot


After a reluctant start from my youngest (trying to get past the crowds and the cars at Symonds Yat out her off a bit) and some lunch the kids really got into the swing of it and we picked up a decent pace all the way to Monmouth and back.


Only about 10 miles in total but seeing as L in particular has never cycled more than up and down our cul-de-sac before I was quite pleased at how well she coped. The weather was kind and stayed dry so it was a very pleasant and very different day out from the usual walks. The Forest of Dean nearby has loads of old disused railway lines from the coal mining days now used as cycleways so hopefully we can get a few more trips in before winter.


I actually quite like cycling – there, I said it. Just don’t expect any major cycling tours from me!

Video works better than photos so enjoy the little compilation with a tune to remind you that it’s still August and still technically summer…

Posted August 6, 2012 by surfnslide in Cycling, Family Trips

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