It was beginning to rain when seven of us met up at Chichester Station: Corinne, Jim, Julian, Sean, Sikka and Tessa having travelled by train, Angela by car. Too miserable for a photo, and there was no-one around to take it.
We set off in a south westerly wind and drizzle on the South Coast Cycle Route, aka The Centurion Way. Sikka and Tessa were reminded of the start of their recent Avenue Verte trip which also starts on a disused railway.
Everyone has a slightly different opinion of the weather forecast – some thought rain would stop at 12 and sun would appear, others thought that 12 was when the rain would really start. We all had hopes for a sunny afternoon!
We stopped for a group photo at the group of Centurions. Jim pointed out that their mouths and noses were the metal fastenings that gripped and held rails onto the tracks. Their bodies look like unexploded bombs.
We came to the end of the traffic-free path and onto a small but busy road leading to West Stoke. On our right we passed what look like lakes – fields of solar panels, before turning into Lye Lane. Julian told us we had climbed to the highest point of the ride (hardly noticeable!) and ‘it was all downhill from now on’. Was he lying, we wondered?
There was one more undulation to follow, but we forgave him. Small roads with potholes and an off-road track led us to Dell Quay and the Crown and Anchor. No room inside, and blustery outside, we decided to carry on to Chichester Marina for lunch.
At the Salterns Marina we had a few minutes to wait to before we could cross the lock as three yachts entered it before heading out to Cowes.
Seven of us squeezed onto a table for four at the Boathouse Café. There were mixed opinions on the quality of the food but conversation was jolly – Angela told us about her recent tour of the Houses of Parliament which she had found fascinating.
The sun was out when he headed back to Chichester. Two adults swans and several large cygnets squatted on the edge of the tarmac of the Marina Road, perhaps for its warmth? A busy road, then smaller ones led us through Hunston to join the canal path. On Poyntz Bridge we admired the view of fields and Chichester Cathedral, screwing up our eyes to try and spot the satellite dish on the roof observed by Angela, only it was a joke!
Sikka noticed a mother and baby Coot on the canal, and some of us were sprayed with water by dogs emerging from a swim.
On arrival at the Canal Tearoom, Sean discovered he had cycled the whole ride sitting on two bananas – better than a gel saddle!
We enjoyed drinks and cake sitting under the trees overlooking the Canal Basin and arrived at the station just as our train was pulling in.
An excellent day out, thank you Julian!
More photos on Flickr