Please be clear that while all are welcome to join us we each take part in rides at our own risk.
Sunday 15 May 2011
Gatwick Airport to East Croydon
Gatwick – Horley – Earlswood – Redhill – Nutfield Marsh – Caterham – Purley – Croydon
“Have your fun
On Route 21 …”
This is the first of a series of special rides featuring National Cycle Network Route 21. Route 21 wends its way, in anything but a straight line, from Eastbourne to Greenwich. We are very familiar with some parts of it (e.g. the Cuckoo Trail and the Worth Way); my aim is to cover the bits we know and the bits we don’t – all of it if possible – in a series of three or four big rides, with some small gaps plugged by other rides.
With this ride we are starting off, in time-honoured tradition, in the middle. We will begin on familiar ground to anyone who has experienced my previous Gatwick rides, but continue northwards at Horley instead of turning east or west as before. In fact we will traverse, in the opposite direction, the return leg of the Gatwick–Outwood ride we did in November 2010, as far as the junction of Lake Lane and Cross Oak Lane, before we branch off onto new ground.
Route 21 beyond this point has the look of a carefully crafted cycle route which has been put there for us to enjoy, rather than (as it may seem from a glance at the map) a disjointed sequence of bits of road; in fact much of it is off-road, well-surfaced bridleway, and only a very short section (which we will avoid) has been surfaced with glass and tile shards. We will encounter no fewer than four nature reserves (if we count our old friend the Gatwick Country Park) including some that have been reclaimed from an old sand quarry at Redhill.
Lunch will be at the Inn on the Pond (www.theinnonthepondnutfield.co.uk) at Nutfield Marsh, and once again I am afraid I have had to book a table and so will need numbers – please e-mail me at email@example.com if you are coming. (And if there are a lot of us we may need to order our food in advance!)
After lunch we will have to face up to the North Downs looming above us. But Route 21 softens the blow, and we have only 80 metres to ascend (walking!) at an average gradient of 1 in 20. Then we are on top of the world, and can admire the view before the descent into Caterham.
Anyone who wants a shorter ride can in fact travel home on the train from Caterham, but hopefully most will press on to Croydon. This will be mostly on quiet suburban streets, with one additional short off-road section.
Length: 25 miles (16 miles if taking the train from Caterham).
Terrain: See above.
Duration: About 5½ hours, including lunch.
Start time and place: Gatwick Airport at 11:00 am. Rail travellers should assemble by the lifts that come up to the airport concourse from the platforms (not the additional lifts at the north end of Platforms 1-2).
Those coming by car can meet us at Horley en route, but note that as this is not a circular ride you will have to get the train from East Croydon to Horley at the end of the ride. Alternatively you could drive to an intermediate station such as Haywards Heath, and park there.
Suggested trains: (There are plenty, so we can spread ourselves out): from Brighton to Gatwick Airport at 10:00, 10:14, 10:34; from Hove at 9:54; from Lewes at 10:16; from London Bridge at 10:12; from London Victoria at 10:17 and Clapham Junction at 10:23.
Return trains from East Croydon to Brighton at 16:52, Hove at 16:36, Lewes at 17:11, Clapham Junction and Victoria at 16:40, London Bridge at 16:33.
My mobile: 07742-963239.