At last – back in the saddle

Well only for a day, but at least I have finally got around to getting a halfway decent ride in. Going over to visit mum for the weekend I decided to set off early with the bike in the car and park up about halfway then cycle for the day and finish off with a train to Chichester.

Possibly not the best idea to do it on the hottest day so far across the open top of the New Forest with no shade to be found, but so it went.

Originally planned to drop the car at Shaftesbury and set off towards Southampton but the the sight of that nasty twisty mainish road hill (15%) with hairpins on the way out persuaded me to drive on to Tollard Royal to start [Wimp-Out]. In Tollard there was nowhere to leave the car for a few days so I pressed on to Sixpenny Handley where there was parking space in the main street.

Off at 11:15; normally I’d avoid B roads, and Miss OSM was recommending a wiggly detour to the north, but the road seemed quiet so I pressed straight on to Cranborne. Sun was well out and the day warming up, but the legs seemed to work ok, and Genie was rolling nice and quiet and smooth thanks to a morning spent on cleaning and maintenance a week ago.

I had spotted on Google maps last night something called the “Ancient Technology Centre” near Cranborne which sounded interesting, so I enquired in the village shop and was directed to it. The sign on the gate said “Closed” but the gate was open so I rode on in and found someone in reception to ask about it.

The upshot was that I ended up with a personal guided tour. Fascinating place – the technologies they cover are mostly to do with structures – buildings, and the period is middle stone age to Viking. They have several buildings on site the most impressive being a Viking hall and a late stone age large round house used as a story telling place. 

The atmosphere in both these was amazing; built to a plan guided by post holes found on various archeological digs and using available technology from the period they were fantastic spaces. Unfortunately I had left the camera on the bike so no photos – but you can find some on their website 

The centre is, wonderfully, funded as an outdoor education centre by Dorset County and is primarily used for school visits. Staffed by half a dozen archeologists (yes there are interesting jobs for archeologists!) and has been around for about 30 years. No normally open to the public but they do run occasional themed open days (see website).

Anyway, many thanks to Nadda (if I spelt that right) for showing me around, but it was already after 12:30 and I had done less than 10k – must get on.

Fordingbridge – a brief stop for a rest and a pint of “Seven Arches” bitter at the George Inn by the bridge with (you’ve guessed it) seven arches. The river full of people splashing around and swimming and fishing in the hot sun and also many fish (mostly mullet that I saw I think).

Most all of the roads east-west across the New Forest are main roads and somewhat busy. Miss OSM wanted me to try some unpaved forest trails, which I’m sure would have been lovely but meant a much longer detour – perhaps on the way back. So I opted for the B3078 figuring that with the kick-off in Russia in a couple of hours it might be reasonably quiet. It wasn’t too bad. Climbing up through Godshill it came out on the top for a flat run along a ride with wonderful views but no shade to be found. 

Eventually a low hawthorn bush growing entwined with a holly provided some relief for a ration of water and a banana and a very prickly sit-down.

Down the other side I let Miss OSM guide me along a windy minor route through Bramshaw and Netley Marsh (passing The Gamekeeper next to where C&J used to live) and onto the cycle tracks into Southampton.

Arrived at the station at 15:20 to find the 15:26 direct to Chi by GWR cancelled, but got the 15:44 change at Fareham from SW trains with no problem.

After changing to the Southern at Fareham (both trains having good bike spaces) realised it was stopping at Southbourne and I would probably be in time there to ride down through Bosham to pick up the Itchenor ferry.

As indeed I did. Got there with half an hour to spare before the ferry stops running, which was a lot more pleasant than the ride out from Chi.

Total for the day 53km Sixpenny Handley to Southampton plus 12km Southbourne to Itchenor making a total of 65km at a rolling average of 18km/hr. Max 53km/hr on the descents through Bramshaw.

Arrived having run out of both water and energy (mistake not taking on any food other than a banana for a late lunch), but soon recovered.

Now for the trip home again on Monday.

Here’s the GPX track for the leg across the forest from Fordingbridge to Southampton station. Lots of little wiggles on the way in through Netley and Totton.