Gatwick – Horley – Meath Green – Woodhatch – Betchworth – Brockham – Dorking – Leigh – Norwood Hill – Hookwood – Horley – Gatwick
This ride appears not to have been done since 2008, which seems an eternity ago, so it’s well overdue. It was originally subtitled “Moles, Voles and Deer” – an allusion to, respectively, the river Mole, which we ride alongside on Lonesome Lane in the first part of the ride, and cross at Flanchford Bridge; an animal I spotted in the delightful (and unexpected if you haven’t been there) Riverside Garden Park located improbably near the airport; and the deer I saw in the lovely Hammonds Copse Nature Reserve, a site of Ancient Semi-Natural Woodland which been wooded for over 400 years.
It is now a hybrid ride which will hopefully meet the needs of both fast and slow riders. There will be a longer route for the faster contingent which will include most of the “slow” route to the lunch stop but also feature bits of a ride I found in a book, Lost Lanes by Jack Thurston. If the “tortoises” dawdle along at 5 mph and the “hares” sprint away at 10 mph, we will all end up at the Plough at Leigh for lunch at the same time. There is also a medium-length route which allows the hares to have a short rest. After lunch, we return to Gatwick by a different route, which includes the aforementioned nature reserve, either as one group or two.
There are possible coffee and tea stops in Horley on the way there and back.
“Slow” route: About 20 miles, mostly on tarmacked roads; some bridleway; some concrete. Hills: Hardly any.
“Fast” route: About 31 miles, similar surface, short section of A25 (“ride along the roadside if it’s too hostile on the road”)
Shortened “fast” route: Short cut to avoid A25. About 27 miles.
Start at Gatwick Airport station at 10:30. Catch the 09.57 Victoria train from Brighton. In case of stroppy Southern staff, there’s also a Thameslink train at 09:42 – if you get this, leave by the lift towards the south end of the platform and wait at the top, outside the lift or nearby on the airport concourse. (If travelling to Gatwick by other means, please contact me as it may be difficult to find the route).
Trains back to Brighton leave Gatwick at 00, 10, 30, 40 minutes past the hour. Journey time 31-37 minutes.
By the way, Leigh is pronounced “lie” like the one in Kent.