And Back Again

So the way home was to follow Miss OSM’s recommended wiggly (and thus longer) way across the New Forest. Aside from that the weather was a degree or two less hot, but still pretty muggy. 

Set off about 08:45 to get the first ferry at Itchenor. Andy’s new boat with the fancy ramp at the front had engine trouble so it was the old dory and a detour up harbour to drop off a fisherman at his mooring. A lovely brief harbour tour thrown in and still arrived on the Bosham side in good time to catch the 10:09 from Southbourne.

In fact was in plenty of time to do an extra couple of k to Emsworth and have a nice cup of coffee in a cafe down the road from the station. Flat road and not yet too hot so over 20km/hr for this leg.

A train through to Southampton, no other bikes when I got on but a couple got on in Havant going to Brockenhurst for a day ride in the forest. Late middle aged and not obvious cyclists (they didn’t look obviously fit) just going for a day out off work. Nice to see, I hope they had a great time.

More bikes got on at Fareham but the train wasn’t overfull so they were able to stand in the doorway. English train operators really need to look at the bike hanging arrangement that Euan and I found in France. They could get six bikes in the space taken by two on these trains. 

From Southampton the initial route out was the reverse of Saturday but after Totton I took Miss OSM’s advice and pretty good it was too. Had adjusted the angle of the front back to improve the legibility of the screen, but still often needed a hand to peer at it and missed the odd turning. 

I had also managed to plan ahead a bit and realised I probably wouldn’t find anywhere to buy a lunch so had a malt loaf, some bars and a bit of fruit to keep me going. 

Stopped after I crossed the cattle grid into the Forest about 45mins in for a glug of water and a snackeral. This time without a carpet of holly leaves and a nice oak tree to lean against. Very peaceful and relaxing until I looked up and noticed the enormous dead bough above my head just ready to drop on some unwary swain dozing beneath. 

Not much climbing at first, but she did take us on one short bit of unpaved track – mostly a fairly well compacted gravel surface although I wouldn’t fancy it when the ground was wet as many areas were dried up mud.

Cows with calves and ponies with foals were the main hazards during the day – neither are particularly keen to move from their chosen spot obstructing the track or road until you shout at them.

The route headed south towards Lyndhurst, nicely shaded narrow lanes mostly, occasional traffic, then turned north and started to climb. Hot but manageable. At the top car parks with plenty of cars carrying off-road bikes out for a day on the forest trails.

Under the main A31 then up again for a flatish open haul before descending into the Avon valley. Stopped for a refreshment break on an oak log before dropping down. In fact there were several tempting looking pubs that we passed during the day but the thought of a three hour drive home to come prevented me from indulging in a mini pub-pedal.

Just before I set off again another cyclist passed and I followed him down, the lane was pretty rough and as he hit a lumpy patch ahead of me he almost lost it and his small saddle pack flew off. I retrieved it for him and we continued slightly more cautiously. He was a teacher from a Portsmouth school shepherding a party of DofE award pupils on a silver hike. His role being to cycle between checkpoints to meet them – nice work if you can get it on a day like today ­čÖé

At the bottom our ways parted and I turned North towards Fordingbridge up the valley.

Miss OSM wanted me to turn left – but the track through the gravel pit lakes that she wanted me to take was only a narrow footpath so I decided to press on to Fordingbridge and not bother about the 2km shorter route she wanted.

Passed a farm shop so stopped for a refill of the water bottle which was getting dangerously depleted and a nectarine from their stall.

Flat now and a good pace, but still within the cattle grid area. I was catching another cyclist as he approached a group of cows on the road, I glanced down and when I looked up he was sprawled in the road 200m ahead and the cows were scattering.

Helped him up – road burns to elbows and legs but still functional – apparently it wasn’t the cows, he had simply been reaching down for his bottle and hit a bump with only one hand on the bars.

From Fordingbridge it was just a question of retracing my pedal turns from Saturday. Although for the last bit from Cranborne Miss OSM found a much nicer route along a lane up the stream to Sixpenny Handley that she hadn’t spotted on the way out. Arrived just before 4pm and indulged in a Strawberry and Vanilla Calippo ice cream from the village shop before tacking the drive home.

Weather hot and sunny, but not quite as hot as Saturday and more shade en-route. Total ridden 76.5km at a rolling average of 17.3 and a max of 48.4km/hr

This track includes the railway from Emsworth to Southampton as I forgot to turn logging off…zoom in for detail.