Cycle Surrey Hills routes

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LinusR
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Cycle Surrey Hills routes

Postby LinusR » 23 Oct 2018, 9:25am

I did this 20 mile off-road circuit yesterday https://www.cyclinguk.org/route/cycling-uks-surrey-hills-loop thinking it would be an easy ride but to my surprise it was quite challenging (I had to walk down several steep technical descents). I normally avoid Surrey on my road bike because of the high motor traffic levels but the off-road riding and parts of the Surrey heathland are well worth exploring. I'm sorry I don't have any photos to show but Thursley Common Nature Reserve and Hankley Common are well worth a visit - sandy dunes covered with pine and oak and covered in gorse and other scrub and heath plants. Parts of it (probably due to the bright sunshine) looked like an off-road ride in Mallorca. The trails can be heavy going even with 2.3in tyres due to the sandy surface (it's supposed to be better after a bit of rain).

Then there's the Devils Punch Bowl - a very long climb with stunning views from the 271m summit. Previously a main road ran through here but it is now in a tunnel and the old road has been mostly returned to nature.

There are five shorter routes to ride (with .gpx files) https://www.surreyhills.org/discover-route/cycle-surrey-hills/

The routes are part of ‘Cycle Surrey Hills’ a project to encourage cycling in Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Anyone else ridden these?

Zulu Eleven
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Joined: 26 Oct 2018, 9:25pm

Re: Cycle Surrey Hills routes

Postby Zulu Eleven » 26 Oct 2018, 9:52pm

Glad you enjoyed it :D

The other routes are broadly similar - the Puttenham Loop had had some minor pronblems so full waymarking has been a bit delayed as we change a couple of things and resurface a short stretch, also some minor changes to one stretch near Frensham little pond to be done over the winter. Also we are pushing the elstead loop as one-direction only (in fact all the routes run best clockwise so we may promote them all in a single direction as it would simplify signage)

It’s the first project of its kind on anything like this sort of scale, with a limited budget, so we knew there would be some lessons learned and a few revisions as part of the snagging process. They’re not for everyone, I’ve had some complaints about nettles and patches of mud, to which I’m afraid there’s a real element of “that’s mountain biking” - rural bridleways aren’t all surfaced or easy or suitable for all bikes. we didn’t set out to sanitise this (nor would there ever be the funding available) and I believe that a comparison with a ‘blue’ grading remains appropriate for that reason, though we may be able to improve some sections through planning offset in the future now we have a core set of routes identified.

The broader point though, and the thing I’m particularly pleased about from your post, is that you discovered something new, and just how wonderful the off-road riding and countryside in this area is, it’s created a lot of goodwill with partner organisations, that I hope will bode well for the future - these sort of circular routes are likely to take on more importance with the public health and well-being agendas in order to encourage more people out into the countryside.

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LinusR
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Re: Cycle Surrey Hills routes

Postby LinusR » 27 Oct 2018, 9:45am

Zulu Eleven wrote: They’re not for everyone, I’ve had some complaints about nettles and patches of mud, to which I’m afraid there’s a real element of “that’s mountain biking” - rural bridleways aren’t all surfaced or easy or suitable for all bikes. we didn’t set out to sanitise this (nor would there ever be the funding available) and I believe that a comparison with a ‘blue’ grading remains appropriate for that reason, though we may be able to improve some sections through planning offset in the future now we have a core set of routes identified.


Mud, nettles, and stretches where you have to walk are part of natural trails. I'm exploring this area with a view to leading group rides aimed at leisurely off-road touring (rather than run-o-the-mill MTB-ers) so I need to risk assess the routes before leading them and find some suitable lunch stops. The rides would start from one of the nearby train stations. Monday's ride was from Farnham but I'll try the next one from Milford which is closer to the more interesting off-road routes.

Zulu Eleven
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Joined: 26 Oct 2018, 9:25pm

Re: Cycle Surrey Hills routes

Postby Zulu Eleven » 27 Oct 2018, 3:32pm

LinusR wrote:Mud, nettles, and stretches where you have to walk are part of natural trails. I'm exploring this area with a view to leading group rides aimed at leisurely off-road touring (rather than run-o-the-mill MTB-ers) so I need to risk assess the routes before leading them and find some suitable lunch stops. The rides would start from one of the nearby train stations. Monday's ride was from Farnham but I'll try the next one from Milford which is closer to the more interesting off-road routes.


(Regards nettles etc) I am glad you view it that way - yes, I agree, I also think it’s part of the ‘organic’ factor and at a deeper psychological level is an essential part of creating a bond with and understanding of nature and the wider countryside - seasons, weather, vegetation changes - there’s an argument regards ‘immersion’ and riding ‘in’ the countryside rather than through it. Getting muddy sometimes, along with stopping to smell the flowers is a big part of this.

Regards risk assessment, as I say, there should be nothing inconsistent with the top end of a forestry commission ‘blue’ grade

Image

We are working on a direct off-road link to Farnham but it would require resourcing via the district cycle plan as there is an approx 150m gap where the landowner will not agree - ultimately this needs the ROW department to use compulsory creation powers but they simply don’t have the budget to force aroute to public inquiry and compensation. At the moment the best traffic free loop route I could offer direct from Farnham you would be this:

838B9932-911E-4734-A3FA-9FAE45C83281.png


That you could of course use one of these routes out and extend from Tilford via the SH network past Frensham ponds and up to the bluebell, leading into Alice Holt and down to Bentley station, which is on the Farnham line anyway so no hassle with tickets. or you could of course ride from Farnham to Haslemere via Punchbowl, Alternatively you can ride out from Guildford via the North Downs way and pick up the route to finish at either Haslemere, Bentley or Farnham rail stations

I hope they gives you some ideas?

All those of course fit in with the shepherd and flock at the roundabout, the Alice Holt cafe, the bluebell pub at batts corner and the pub on the cricket green in Tilford. The cafe at Frensham big pond is pretty uninspiring (new visitor centre to be built there soon) the little pond cafe is better - but of course even better is the Frensham Brewery Tap Room when it’s open - I’ve not tried the pub near the golf course south of Tilford. The routes through Elstead are only a short detour from the Barn cafe in Elstead, the pub in Thursley village, again a very short detour is excellent, and of course there’s the Cafe at the Devil’s Punchbowl. (It’s almost like we had this base covered from the planning stage, isn’t it :D )

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LinusR
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Re: Cycle Surrey Hills routes

Postby LinusR » 27 Oct 2018, 11:07pm

Zulu Eleven wrote:
I hope they gives you some ideas?



Thanks for the local info. I'll do a bit more exploring on Monday.