Redhill Circular via Nutfield Marsh, Caterham Viewpoint, Woldingham and Godstone
Over the last two years I have led a series of rides featuring cycle route NCN21, which in its entirety runs from Eastbourne to Greenwich, via Polegate, Heathfield, Eridge, East Grinstead, Three Bridges, Gatwick Airport, Redhill, Caterham, Warlingham, Norwood and Lewisham. In the blurb for the final leg on 1 July last year, I confessed that I had “cheated and cut out about 7 miles” of the official route, to avoid a big hill. However this omission niggled me, and I eventually decided that I’d have to plug the gap with a “final final” ride.
This, however, is not that ride. The logistics of incorporating all of the missing bit, from Caterham Viewpoint to Spring Park in Shirley, were just impossible, given the need to get home avoiding too much of suburbia (and definitely East Croydon) while making the ride manageable. So on this ride we’ll do a further 4½ miles of NCN21 only; that means there will eventually have to be a “final final final final” version to include the rest of what I think should really have been described as a 12, not 7, mile gap. (Watch this space!)
This time, then, we’ll repeat the rather nice bit of NCN21 that we did on 15 May 2011, across the newly reclaimed Moors and Spynes Mere Nature Reserves (including the path that is still almost permanently under 3 inches of water – good news is they’re building it up, hope they’ll have finished by then!) and ascend the 80 metres onto the North Downs (walking!) in one fell swoop at an average gradient of 1 in 18. We’ll stop briefly at Caterham Viewpoint to admire the view and get our breath back (but no coffee unless you bring some!) After crossing the A22 (by bridge) we then have a continuous gently-downhill stretch nearly 3 miles long (remember school geography – the Downs have “inward facing scarps”). Much of this goes through the very opulent-looking Woldingham School, who have very kindly allowed the plebs to cycle through their grounds.
We’ll then say goodbye (for now) to NCN21 and have lunch at a garden centre (a Clarion first?) – Knights Nursery at Woldingham, who do light lunches including soup, sandwiches and jacket potatoes, as well as Spitfire bitter. Feel free to pick up some potting compost as well – but remember that you will, unfortunately, have to lug it back up the hill (remember, what goes down must come up!) This will be another 10 minutes of walking (100m ascent; average gradient around 1 in 15). But the good thing about this ride is that there really are only those two hills; the rest is flat to within a good approximation (as we scientists say). So after Woldingham village it’s a big whoosh (on the scarp) down to Godstone where there is a nice tea room on the green. Finally back to Redhill, the last 5 miles being the same as the outgoing route.
Meet at Redhill Station (Platform 3/Down Side exit, Redstone Hill) at 11:00.
Length: 25 miles
Duration: 7 hours including stops
Terrain: Mostly good, hard off-road paths. Some quiet lanes. Only 2 metres underwater!
Getting there: From Brighton take the 10:00 Victoria train (arr. 10:48). From London Victoria take the 10:27 Brighton train (Clapham Junction 10:33; Redhill 10:57).
Getting home: To Brighton direct at 58 minutes past the hour; with changes, also at 12, 14 and 34 minutes past. To London at 14, 37, 49 minutes past the hour.